Slowing Down to Eat Reduces Your Diabetes Risk

If you want to reduce your risk for diabetes, slow down.

That’s what a new study presented at the joint International Congress of Endocrinology and European Congress of Endocrinology concluded.

People who mindlessly devoured their food in this study were two and a half times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared with those who slowly savored what they ate.

Researchers here compared 234 people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with 468 people without diabetes. Besides taking body measurements, they asked participants to complete a questionnaire about diabetes risk factors. Among those questions included how quickly they ate compared with their dining companions.

Other than increased diabetes risk, people who ate faster had a higher body mass index (BMI).

Are you seeing a pattern here?

I’m willing to wager too the speed eaters weren’t eating wild salmon and broccoli. More likely, they were devouring In-N-Out burgers and milkshakes.

Diabetes studies come out all the time. This one proves significant because it was the first to show how quickly you eat can determine whether you’ll develop this chronic – and in my opinion, completely reversible – disease.

Experts often look for oversimplified culprits for diabetes, including higher consumption of high-fructose corn syrup HFCS), lack of exercise, and the ubiquitous fat-salt-sugar combo that makes up most of the processed and fast food people eat.

And while these things certainly play a role, scientists often overlook that psychological factors also significantly contribute to diabetes.

We’re a fast-paced, multitasking society that hardly seems aware what we’re shoveling down our mouths as we fight rush-hour traffic while taking a cell phone call from our irate boss.

That’s why this study proves important. It provides an often-neglected component to prevent diabetes: slow down.

I get it: saying it is easier than doing it, especially in these tough economic times where you might be struggling to stay afloat and stopping everything else for 30 minutes to savor your food just doesn’t seem possible.

But it’s worth it, for peace of mind and – as we’re seeing more and more – your health. I want to conclude with seven strategies to help you put the brakes on your eating pace:

  1. Eat with slow people. You know those people who linger over their meal and enjoy every bite? Opt to dine with them rather than your friend who pounds cheeseburgers like a keg party at a fraternity house.
  2. Put your fork down between bites. Remind yourself this isn’t one of those Coney Island hot dog eating contests and shoveling down your food will only give you indigestion.
  3. Stop the dashboard dining. You know that cramming down an Egg McMuffin while sitting in rush hour traffic is hardly the best way to start your day. Whenever possible, eat sitting down (but not behind the wheel!), preferably at your kitchen table. My friend JJ Virgin has more great information about slowing down.
  4. Chew thoroughly. A new study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who chew more eat less food and absorb more nutrients. Sounds like a win-win to me.
  5. Be mindful while you’re eating. Put away your iPhone and other distractions. And establish a no-texting rule at the dinner table. Be present and listen to what others say. Or if you’re eating alone, focus on food rather than the TV.
  6. Pause before you eat. If you’re religious, you could say a short prayer before you dive into your food. And if you’re not, simply taking a moment to breathe and offer thanks can calm your mind and digestive system.
  7. Visit a gourmet multi-course restaurant. Ever visited one of those prix fixe restaurants where you linger for hours enjoying course after course? That’s a great way to learn how to slow down and savor food.