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Ask Tufts Experts December 2018 Issue

Q. My spouse keeps telling me I eat too quickly. Is this really a concern?

A. Lauren McAvoy, a dietetic intern at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers. “Gulping food and drink can potentially cause you to swallow air, which may lead to gassiness, but the biggest concern is really the risk for overeating. It takes about 15 minutes for the body’s ‘full’ hormones to reach our brain and tell us to stop eating. If you eat quickly, it could be possible to overeat before your body has time to tell you it’s full.”

“Additionally, eating quickly may be related to behaviors that tend to promote obesity, such as eating while doing other things or on the go—practices that often detach you from thinking about what you’re eating, increasing risk for poor decision-making and overeating.”

“While there has been limited research done on this topic, one observational study of diabetic patients in Japan found associations between eating more slowly and a lower likelihood of becoming obese. Because this was an observational study, no cause-and-effect claims can be made to indicate eating faster will cause negative health effects, and further research is needed.”

“Still, slowing down and focusing on what you’re eating will help promote healthier eating behaviors and will allow your body adequate time to tell you you’re full. Take the time to listen to your body and truly enjoy your meal.”

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