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Jillian Weighs In: Why the five minute lunch break is bad for your health

Have you ever stopped in the middle of gobbling down a full meal in five minutes to ask yourself, “Why do I eat so fast?” I never did until I started intuitive eating. Suddenly, it hit me: all my years of 30 minute lunch breaks and eating on-the-go led me to consume a full meal in the blink of an eye. 

In learning about intuitive eating –  which is a concept that involves eating without restrictions and listening to your body’s needs – and how one goes about that process, I found that it was hard to enjoy food and decipher how hungry I was when I ate so fast. When assessing how I could have possibly developed a habit of eating in a hurry, I thought back to my lunch breaks in high school. Although that time in my life was many years ago, it took a toll on my habits. In that time, I would spend about 15 minutes waiting in line for food, 10 minutes eating and five minutes putting away my tray and scurrying off to class. 

Some may question the importance of eating slowly. After all, it can’t possibly be that bad for you to eat meals quickly, right? According to an article published in Nourish by WebMd titled “Slow down, you eat too fast,” by Kathleen M. Zelman, MHP, RD/LD, it takes 20 minutes from the time you start eating, for your brain to signal fullness. So, when the process of eating is slowed down, it allows for more than enough time to receive satiety signals. And, when you give your body time to send signals of feeling full, you subsequently eat less than you would if you rushed the process. So, eating slowly not only allows you to calmly enjoy a meal, but it also prevents you from overeating. 

My habit of eating quickly didn’t break the second I stepped foot onto campus, though. Even when I had hour-long breaks between classes, I still wolfed down my dining hall cuisine while worrying about not having enough time for lunch. For most of my time in college, I thought eating fast and eating lots of food was normal— especially when I observed others who ate the way I did. Until I learned about intuitive eating, I was stuck over-eating. It took time and patience to slow down and allow myself the time to actually enjoy taking a lunch break. 

If you’ve had an epiphany while reading this and are looking for ways to start eating slower, common suggestions include setting utensils down between bites, taking a breath between bites, using utensils in your non-dominant hand, eating in an environment without distractions and taking the time to thoughtfully consider how the food tastes.

If you have also developed a habit of eating at the speed of light for one reason or another, do not worry; there is always time to develop new healthy eating habits.

Jillian Craig is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Jillian know by tweeting her at @JillianCraig18.

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