We’ve all heard of the five second rule, right? Where if you drop food on the floor, if you pick it up within 5 seconds of dropping it, it’s socially acceptable to eat the food! Next question: How familiar are you with the 20 minute rule? This rule suggests that eating more slowly can help one feel fuller longer and maintain a healthier weight. Specifically, the 20 minute rule advocates for slower eating with more chewing and less consumption of food, in comparison to if foods are eaten quickly.
Feeling satisfied is a two fold component. First, the satisfied feeling one’s stomach, but also digestive hormones that are secreted by the gastrointestinal tract must also send signals via digestive hormones to the brain of fullness.
When the stomach is filled with food or water, stretch receptors signal the brain through the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and brainstem. After hormonal signals are released in the form of partially digested food, called chyme, it enters the small intestine. Examples of such hormone signals include cholecystokinin (CCK) and leptin. Based on the amount of the body’s energy stores, leptin’s produced by fat cells that communicates with the brain about long range needs and satiety with the brain about long-range needs and satiety. In addition, leptin amplifies CCK signals to enhance satiety. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. It’s suggested that eating too quickly can limit the ability for this complex hormonal “communication” system enough time to work.
Eating slower should not be solely synonymous with weight loss, as overweight or obese may have leptin resistance, which inhibits responsiveness to satiety and/or pleasure signals. Furthermore, sensitively to environmental cues (i.e. inviting smell of chocolate chip cookies or the TV commercial advertisement of a juicy burger) can be too enticing to resist.
For those of you not familiar with mindful eating or Brian Wansink, it’s a technique that I firmly believe is a successful technique for more enjoyable, quality eating! So, next time you’re eating, why not wait at least 20 minutes for second helpings or to double up on portions. What are your thoughts about this theory? Has chewing slowly enabled you to feel full faster?