Slow food: Good for the planet and the waistline

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The slow food movement may have started as a means to support sustainable food practices but a slew of recent studies show eating slowly and mindfully has plenty of physical perks as well.

For instance, a study slated for upcoming publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that those who snarf their food may be doomed to overindulge. More scientifically speaking, the scientists found that when people ate quickly, their bodies curbed the release of special gut hormones required to trigger satiety. With less hormones onboard, a person’s internal cues to put down the spoon were muffled.

For the study, volunteers eat the same test meal (roughly 1.3 cups of ice cream) at different rates. Before the meal and at 30-minute intervals after eating began, researchers took blood samples to check on the participant’s levels of blood sugar, insulin, fats, and gut hormones.

In the end, the slowest eaters had the highest levels of two gut hormones, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide, that tell the brain when the belly is satisfied. “Our study provides a possible explanation for the relationship between speed eating and overeating,” say the authors.

This new evidence comes on the heels of a similar study published recently in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Those scientists found that people who ate mindfully, meaning they were aware of why they ate and stopped eating when they felt full, weighed less than those who ate mindlessly, meaning they ate when they weren’t hungry or in response to anxiety or depression.

In a twist, the researchers took the notion one step further and found a strong association between yoga and mindful eating. Alan Kristal, one of the study’s authors, a yogi, and a professor epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health puts it this way. “Yoga teaches you how to be calm and observant during physical discomfort, which translates to other situations, such as not eating more even when the food is delicious.”

More yoga news coming up this afternoon on Wellness. In the meantime, what does it mean to eat mindfully? Get the scoop at the Center for Mindful Eating.