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The 20 Bite Rule

Woman Cooking with WokCan chewing each small bite at least 20 times really make you eat less? Maybe not, but it might make you feel more full than if you were to wolf down your meal, suggests a recent study.

In the study, 30 young women took part in two lunchtime scenarios, a few days apart. At one lunch, the women sped through a pasta meal: they ate with a large spoon and did not pause between bites. At the second lunch, the diners used a small spoon and ate that same pasta meal slowly. The women chewed each bite 20 to 30 times and put down their spoon between bites. Mealtime took about 18 minutes longer than when they ate quickly.

Before, during and after the meal the women were asked about their appetite. All the women had eaten the same breakfast and then not eaten until lunchtime. Everyone also drank the same amount of water during lunch (about a cup).

Whether the women ate quickly or slowly, they ate approximately the same amount of food – about three quarters of the pasta. When the women ate slowly, they rated they were more hungry up to 20 minutes after finishing the meal. But an hour after eating, they were less hungry and rated less desire to eat compared to when they ate quickly.

Having water freely available and giving the diners time to drink it may play a role in how much people ate, the authors conclude. Having water and slowing down eating may help maximize satiation and regulate calorie intake.

Source: Ana M Andrade, Daniel L Kresge, Pedro J Teixeira, Fátima Baptista and Kathleen J Melanson. “Does eating slowly influence appetite and energy intake when water intake is controlled?” International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2012, 9:135.

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