‘Stop and Drop’

by Kellie Dye

No, I’m not talking as if you are on fire. I’m actually talking about your fork. You have probably heard before that it takes approximately 20 minutes of eating before your stomach and brain signal that you are full. In regards to fullness, other things come into play as well. The amount of chewing, tasting, swallowing and thinking about food also impact how we feel full.

The problem occurs when we mindlessly eat too fast. Compared with other countries, our meals are remarkably fast-paced. Our country would rank No. 1 in speed eating, and that’s not a good thing. A study commissioned by the American Dietetic Association revealed that the average length of a meal eaten alone in a fast food restaurant was only 11 minutes. We spend 13 minutes for a meal in a cafeteria setting and 28 minutes eating in a sit-down dining restaurant. The meal time doubles if we add three or more people to the table.

Now think about the clean-your-plate club. Most people eat visually. They think about how much they are going to eat, and only when the food is gone do they consider whether they are full or not.

If you ask Europeans why they stop eating, they will tell you they stop eating when they are full. Ask an American why they stop eating, and they might tell you they stop when the plate is empty.

It’s the same as if you decided to walk two miles. You won’t stop because you are tired; you will most likely stop when you have completed the two miles. You don’t stop every few minutes to assess how tired you are. But when it comes to eating, you should stop every few minutes to assess how full you are.

To help you to eat less and determine how full you are, it is important to slow down your eating. One of the best methods for doing this is called “Stop and Drop.” Pick up your fork and take a bite of food. Put the fork down. Do NOT pick your fork up again until you have chewed and swallowed that bite. Once you have swallowed, then pick up your fork and resume with the “Stop and Drop” while you eat your meal.

This method really helps to slow down your eating. You will never be able to determine how full you are unless you slow down and pay attention. Many good things happen when you slow down your eating. Not only will you eat less, but also you will most likely feel satisfied because you savored a meal for a change.

Because of time constraints and schedules, it may not be possible to “Stop and Drop” at every meal, but try it whenever you can. It also allows for a good opportunity to teach kids to slow down their eating and learn to recognize fullness.

Kids get a kick out of making sure that mom and dad do the “Stop and Drop.” Try it as a family at the dinner table tonight.