In Europe, meals can last for hours. And Europeans are on average much trimmer than Americans. New research suggests the two may be linked: Scientists finally have proof that eating slowly means eating less.

University of Rhode Island researchers asked 30 women on two different occasions to eat pasta—flavored with celery, tomatoes, and cheese—until they felt comfortably full. For one meal, the women bolted down their food, taking less than ten minutes to finish.

On the second occasion, they stretched out dinner to nearly 30 minutes by chewing small bites 15 to 20 times each and putting down their silverware between each mouthful. The researchers found that when the women slowed down, they ate about 10 percent less—566 calories versus 631 when they scarfed.

And when the women ate slowly, they were more likely to report enjoying their meal and feeling full for up to an hour afterward. The poky approach could save 150 to 200 calories a day, and as much as 1,400 a week.

It's possible that slowing down simply gives your body time to register fullness, say experts. There may be other factors, says Kathleen Melanson, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition science at the University of Rhode Island. “The process of chewing may release chemicals in the brain that trigger satiety,” she says. “Also, because they had more time to savor the food, they may have been more satisfied.”

So take your time, chew slowly and thoroughly, and put down your fork between bites. Like those annoyingly slim European women, you may be able to enjoy haute cuisine minus the unsavory weight gain.

Find out how to break bad food habits

As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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