Conventional wisdom (and many a diet and weight loss expert) tells us that eating slower makes us feel more satisfied and helps prevent overeating, but a new study pokes holes in that theory: Eating slower doesn’t make you snack less, say researchers, foiling our plans at getting slim fast by eating slow.
Researchers in the Netherlands asked 38 men and women to eat the same four-course meal twice in a controlled test kitchen – once in a single, 30-minute seating, and once as a staggered meal with 20-25 minutes between courses. Subjects’ satiety hormones were measured and, unsurprisingly, they felt full more gradually when they ate staggered meals. Quick half-hour meals led to a rapid spike in the satiety hormone. The group reported feeling more full after a drawn-out meal and had a lower level of the hunger-linked hormone ghrelin.
But the big news came when post-dinner snacks were offered to the subjects: Whether they’d just scarfed their meal in 30 minutes or eaten it over the course of an evening, they indulged in snacks with equal fervor. The lesson: Long, leisurely meals don’t curb snacking, and neither do satiety hormones alone don’t curb snacking. To really keep yourself from snacking, you have to eliminate the opportunity for snacks.
Is anyone else wondering why this study is such big news? We’ve always thought that eating slowly would stop us from inhaling two times the food; not that it would keep us from eating food later in the day. And hasn’t everyone marveled at one point or another at how they suddenly have room for dessert (or popcorn, or whatever else lands on the table), even after stuffing themselves at dinner? (Hello, Thanksgiving.)