Benefits of Eating Your Food Slowly

Family eating breakfast

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Americans could use a tutorial on eating food slowly. In certain countries and cultures, a meal can last for hours. People sit around a table with their extended families and talk, eat, and drink until late in the evening.

In the United States, this is less likely to happen. In fact, the average American spends just over an hour a day altogether on meals. Some breakfasts and lunches last barely two minutes. But is eating fast a problem? Should we be concerned? The answer is “yes” and there are some good reasons to learn how to eat slowly.

Reasons to Eat Slowly

By slowing down your meal, you may gain potential health and wellness benefits. You're also more likely to enjoy your meal.

Increases Food Satisfaction

One obvious benefit of eating more slowly is that you will taste your food more. If you double the amount of time it takes you to eat a meal, you’ll experience more of the flavors, textures, and smells of the food you eat. Your food will become more interesting.

Promotes Weight Loss

When you take longer to eat, you might find that you learn to stop eating sooner. You might notice that you are full and don’t need that extra bite.

In fact, slower eating is associated with a lower body mass index (BMI). Studies have found that eating slowly improves satiety (the feeling of fullness and satisfaction after a meal).

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a dated, biased measure that doesn’t account for several factors, such as body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age. 


Despite being a flawed measure, BMI is widely used today in the medical community because it is an inexpensive and quick method for analyzing potential health status and outcomes.

Eating slowly may also help you to accurately remember the amount of food you consumed. The bottom line? Slow down and you may feel full with less.

Enables Better Food Choices

When you slow your eating pace, you have more time to make more thoughtful food choices. This is good because the more you pay attention to your foods, the more you give yourself the opportunity to select nutritious, healthy foods.

Many empty calorie foods are heavily processed by food manufacturers. They are often high in sodium and added sugar. These foods are carefully designed by food engineers to taste great for the first three or so bites. After a few bites, many people say that their desire for more salt and more sugar increases. Studies have shown that people often eat more when they consume ultra-processed foods.

Natural foods, on the other hand, contain no added sugar or added sodium (unless you add them during meal preparation). They have simple, but delicious tastes and textures. A strawberry starts out with a burst of juice but then stays interesting as you chew. Oranges, nuts, and vegetables are the same.

Allows for Social Connection

Eating can be a social event. Meals are a time when people gather and spend time together. Once the meal is over, everyone goes their separate ways. By taking more time at a meal, you’ll be able to talk to your friends and family more, improve relationships, and feel more connected.

Improves Digestion

Eating slower gives your stomach more time to start working on the food. When you send an entire meal down your throat in five minutes, you may find yourself suffering from indigestion. Instead, take 20 minutes to eat the same amount of food.

Your stomach will have a much easier job. Eating slower might also result in you chewing more, giving your stomach a head start in the digestive process.

Prevents Becoming Overstuffed

Researchers have found that it takes your stomach about 20 minutes to produce the hormones that tell your brain that you are full. If you slow down, you give yourself more time to feel satisfied. This gives you a better chance of stopping before you "get stuffed."

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. American Time Use Survey 2018.

  2. Shah M, Copeland J, Dart L, Adams-huet B, James A, Rhea D. Slower eating speed lowers energy intake in normal-weight but not overweight/obese subjects. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014;114(3):393-402. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.11.002

  3. Hurst Y, Fukuda H. Effects of changes in eating speed on obesity in patients with diabetes: a secondary analysis of longitudinal health check-up data. BMJ Open. 2018;8(1):e019589. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019589

  4. Ferriday D, Bosworth ML, Lai S, et al. Effects of eating rate on satiety: A role for episodic memory?Physiol Behav. 2015;152(Pt B):389–396. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.06.038

  5. Hall KD, Ayuketah A, Brychta R, et al. Ultra-processed diets cause excess calorie intake and weight gain: an inpatient randomized controlled trial of ad libitum food intake. Cell Metab. 2019. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2019.05.008

  6. Breton J, Tennoune N, Lucas N, et al. Gut commensal e. Coli proteins activate host satiety pathways following nutrient-induced bacterial growth. Cell Metab. 2016;23(2):324-34. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.10.017

By Mark Stibich, PhD
Mark Stibich, Ph.D., FIDSA, is a behavior change expert with experience helping individuals make lasting lifestyle improvements.