in Balance Wisdom

Time and Eating – AFL Podcast

In an article called Time Compression and Productivity – Mindfulness of Moments I talked about how we seem to alter the flow of time based on how we feel about the moment we are experiencing.  Stuff that we are dreading seems to take forever, and stuff we like goes by too quickly – “Time flies when you’re having fun.”

Go take a look at it, or listen to it when you get a chance.

Welcome back or thanks for not leaving, as the case may be.  Anyway, with that in mind I thought I’d offer a helpful tip to those of you that sometimes struggle with diet.

Diet is king

It’s way beyond the scope of this media to go into my thoughts on diet and exercise, glycemic impact and all that stuff.  Instead I’m just going to say that diet is king – it will and does trump any exercise you do or fail to do. What you eat, how much you eat and how often you eat all play a part in how you store and process food, and how it ultimately makes you feel.  Those are a lot of variables.

You may be eating too much.  You may be eating too much sugar.  You may be combining two foods that don’t process well together.   That’s a lot to think about when you just want to lose a few pounds and have more energy. Right?


Simple – use time

So then, let me keep things simple.  Since my over arching goal is always to distil things down into the essence of what you need to know and always hand you something tangible I will give you this valuable tidbit.

Use time.  That’s it.  Instead of portion control, counting calories, going on a special diet, denying yourself something you are craving you can use time to manage all of those – they will all cascade off of this.  In fact they are all symptoms of what you might be doing wrong.  In four words:  You’re eating too fast.

Besides all the documented issues caused by this – increased acid reflux, chest pains and other fun things – there are the real world tangible effects of the speed you eat.

As you’ve been told and almost certainly ignored, theres adelay between when you eat something and when your stomach signals that it’s “got it” and thus tells you you’re full.  So it’s easy to sneak in a bunch of bites before the stomach tells you.  Like a train conductor that doesn’t check the tickets at ever stop, and at the last stop 40 extra people squeeze on.  Now the trains moving and its too late for those people to get off.  And for you, your stomach hurts again.

If you eat slowly, truly slowly, you can address all of those things mentioned above.

If you eat slowly, you will eat less.  Because you give your stomach the time it needs to tell you how full you are, you will operate on its instructions, instead of voracious cave man kill it and eat it quick before the sabertooths return.

If you eat slower you will eat better.  Why?  Because you won’t be so motivated to “make it interesting” near the end of your meal, looking for additions, eating only the saltiest or sweetest stuff, or glopping on some sort of condiment to stay interested.  You’ll just be done.

If you eat slower you’llsave money.  No, really.  Once you’ve done this a few times you’ll see that you actually want less.  Then when you believe it, you’ll make yourself less, or order less.

You’ll be happier.  Yes, really.  When you eat slower and eat less you will enjoy the meal.  You now know that the wolvesare not just a few steps behind you, ready to take your food.  You’ll enjoy the meal and if eating with friends it will take a back seat to the company, and quality time will win over food consumption.  And as an added bonus, later you may be hungry again, naturally, and you can have a snack.  You can even have a treat.

One Cake to rule them all

Ever notice that thinner healthier people are always talking about and thinking about food?  They won’t shut up about it!  That’s because they hve a natural, healthy hunger.  When they eat they eat slowly, and are satisfied.  Then later they can fantasize about Food Porn.  The person that exhibits Olympic Level Food Stuffing to get in the maximum food in the minimum amount of time (before the train conductor checks for tickets) spends his time doing two things:  1) gorging on food and not really tasting and 2) regretting said gorging and suffering.   Ever done that?

So while you’re suffering and promising yourself to eat less, or exercise more, or change your diet, your little skinny friend won’t shut up about cake, or the new Starbucks drink.

Yes, and it’s due mainly to the speed at which one eats.



So how do you do this?  You can’t just say “I’m gonna eat slower this time.”  Those wolves are all too real to you.  Instead to start with you can do a few things.  My suggestions where appropriate:

  1. Split your meal in half. Literally.  Have various portions?  Cut ’em in half.  Then promise yourself that you will come up for air when the first half is done.  THis works well because the physical barrier of half causes you to stop.
  2. Set a timer.  Yes, a timer, or an alarm.  If you’re feeling rally experimental you can start a stopwatch on your phone.  Then when you eat you can watch the seconds tick by and go “holy crap I’m almost done and its only been two minutes.”  Yes you’re an amazing speed eater.
  3. Combine option one and two.

Try it.  Adjusting the time will actually do everything I mentioned above.  If you are a naturally fast eater, and struggling with weight, heartburn or even worse you’ll find this helpful.

How much time is ‘normal?’  That’s up to you.

Resistance is futile

Be prepared for disappointment and resistance.  You may experience minor disappointment that you didn’t finish a meal, or are even wasting it.  Your brain will be confused and try to make you finish it so you “don’t waste food.”  Your friends will also provide resistance.  “You’re not going to eat that?” they’ll ask, surprised.  “What’s wrong?  Not feeling well?” and they may even offer “You’re not on a crazy diet are you?”

You can say to them that you can eat anything you want, and intend to.  You can even pre empt this by offering them a portion when your food arrives – sort of like a food bank for the food you’re going to end up wasting anyway.  Then later when you start talking about a snack, or the delicious dinner you will plan they will say “Well you should have eaten all of your food and you wouldn’t be hungry now.”

Just smile, and next time offer them even more of your plate.


About Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford developed a system to recover time, energy and resources in your life called Alchemy For Life. He writes, coaches and speaks on the subject. For more information, tips and tricks, like Alchemy For Life on Facebook, follow Alchemy For Life on Twitter. Articles are posted regularly on AlchemyFor.Life, and LinkedIn.