In a high paced society of fast food, super-sized fries, and instant breakfasts, we’ve been trained to not only get the most out of our money, but also out of our time. Most people eat at least one meal a week while driving in their car, working, or doing other various efficiency-oriented routines. It is this multi-tasked mindset which turns our food and dining experience into just another item to check off from our overextended to-do list. However, could this shifting of a biological need into a check off item have repercussions on people’s overall health? Science says it might.
On February 22, 2010, New York Times reported, “Researchers have found evidence over the years that when people wolf their food, they end up consuming more calories than they would at a slower pace. One reason is the effect of quicker ingestion on hormones.”
The hormones the researchers are speaking of are insulin and glucogon-like peptides. Both of these enzymes are vital in the regulation of satiety and cell nutrient absorption. Another problem not mentioned in this study is that with fast eating comes fast foods. Fast foods contain high amounts of fructose and fructose further downregulates insulin, leptin, and ghrelin. This suppresses appetite signals even more and causes the body to store fuel as fat. A viscous cycle.
Another problem with eating too quickly, or on the go, is that your body enters a fight-or-flight stress response. This is the exact opposite nervous system response you wish to ignite for healthy digestion. In fact, stress hormones down-regulate all the enzymes mentioned above and instead activate catecholamines and stress hormones. High stress hormones can lead to insulin resistance and cause an increase in glutamate receptors in your brain. Glutamate increases anxiety and down-regulates serotonin, this may further contribute to the viscous cycle of weight gain, especially for emotional eaters.
So the equation of stress + chocolate chip cookie while driving = increased PROBABLITY of weight gain (and probably inflammation from stress) is one reason to learn to slow down and enjoy your food. A further reason is that with all this rushing and doing in life, there’s no time to smell the roses, bond with family and friends, and enjoy a good meal. This leaves us feeling empty, depleted, and lacking of true social connections. This is not good for our heart-literally. Studies cited by Dr. Dean Ornish show that social isolation is the NUMBER ONE predictor of heart disease holding all other risk factors constant.
It’s time for a food revolution America! Not just what we eat, but HOW we eat. This means, we need to change our priorities and do as the Europeans do- remember to pause, rest, bond, and enjoy delicious real food with loved ones.
Scientific journal links:
Peptitde YY and Glucagone-like-peptide 1 increased with slowing down (Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism)
For more information on fitness, check out my website with a contributing article by the founder of menopause360, Gail Edgell.