Eating Slowly

Contributed by Dr. Damian Rodriguez, DHSc, MS



The science of satiety is a fascinatingly complex matter, which has just as much to do with the brain and its multifaceted communication pathways as it does with your stomach. Researchers are beginning to collect more evidence to suggest that the pace at which you eat is significantly associated with satiety signaling and risk for metabolically-related health conditions.

The Study

Japanese researchers recently completed a five-year trial investigating eating speed and its relationship to weight management.1 The researchers examined self-reported data from the health checkups of over 60,000 adults. During the course of the study, 36.5% of the participants had a single checkup, 29.5% had two, and 20% had three or more. The checkups included the gathering of basic health information, such as BMI and waist circumference, but also included a questionnaire that asked a series of questions about eating habits. Along with questions about timing of meals, snacking, and consistency of breakfast consumption, participants were asked to characterize themselves as fast, normal, or slow eaters.


Overall, the researchers found that those who classified themselves as fast eaters had a significantly increased risk for weight management and correlated health issues. Participants in the fast eating category were 29% more likely than “normal” eaters and 42% more likely than “slow” eaters to fall within accepted standards for obesity, exhibited higher average fasting blood glucose levels, and were more likely to have gained additional mass and waist circumference between checkups. The researchers theorized that these results are due, in part, to the complex nature of communication between the brain and the gut, that the neurological sense of satiety often lags behind mechanical fullness due to the time it takes to stimulate associated hormonal messaging. Quite simply, your mouth and your gut often work faster than your brain.


Due to the subjective assessment and observational nature of the study, there are a number of concerns about the validity and generalizability of the collected data, but the findings do support the consensus of previous research that has associated eating speed with a number of metabolically-related health conditions. Earlier studies have resulted in findings suggesting that eating speed was a contributing factor in the development of metabolic syndrome,2,3 insulin resistance,4,5 and increases in body weight.6 Related research has also found that actively reducing eating speed may be associated with increased feelings of fullness and ultimately prevention of obesity.7 Overall, there is a large (and growing) breadth of data to support the idea that eating slower helps curb calorie intake.

Being mindful of your eating patterns and behaviors can be a significant influence in developing habits that promote healthy weight. If you are looking for simple ways to promote better dietary habits overall, you may start with slowing down the process to provide ample time for the brain and the stomach to communicate.


doTERRA Science blog articles are based on a variety of scientific sources. Many of the referenced studies are preliminary and further research is needed to gain greater understanding of the findings. Some articles offer multiple views on general health topics and are not the official position of doTERRA. Consult your healthcare provider before making changes to diet or exercise.

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