"I eat my food really fast, then wonder where it all went. How can I stop?" —Veronica, 21

Q: I’m a broke college student whose mom still supports her (I’m 21). We don’t have much money so I don’t really get to eat much throughout the day. I usually eat dinner and some junk food. However I notice that when I do get the opportunity to eat, I eat my food really fast. When I am done eating I sit there wondering like where did my food go. So, my question is why do I eat my food so fast and how can I stop doing that? —Veronica

Empty dish = desperate at dinner time!

A: Oh wow. That brings back a few memories. When I was in high school, my mom and dad were divorcing and my mom was busy working and trying to make ends meet—and we didn’t have much food in the house. But when I’d go out with friends, I’d stuff down a huge burrito, fries, pizza, as much as I could get my hands on. It’s not surprising that someone who is unsure that they will have enough food would gobble it up quickly and desperately when it’s in front of them. It’s like your body and brain sense the scarcity of food and push you to eat, eat, eat in case there won’t be enough around for you later.

But the urge to stuff the food down isn’t just psychological. When we go too long without eating, our blood sugar drops and our bodies desperately crave food and energy. So, one thing I do is make sure that I have something to eat every few hours. That way my blood sugar stays even and my hunger stays under control for the most part, making me less likely to speed-eat my food.

I know you said you don’t have much money to spend, but there are inexpensive and still filling things you can carry with you and eat throughout the day. Like a banana, a single pack of peanuts from a convenience store, soy chips or Baked Lays. And good old Top Ramen and pb&j snadwiches, while boring, are pretty cheap and nutritious.

Also, have you talked to your mom about this? I know you said you guys don’t have much money, but if she knew how important it was for you to have more regular access to healthier food, she may be able to make something work. I’m sure you don’t want to put more pressure on her than she’s already under, but your health is too important not to tell her. I hope some of this helps. Let me know how it goes for you and feel free to write again, anytime!

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[pic: Scholmollmolch]

3 Responses to "I eat my food really fast, then wonder where it all went. How can I stop?" —Veronica, 21

  1. Tamara says:

    I eat really fast sometimes too, especially dinner and dessert after a long day at work. Here are some ways I trick myself into slowing down:

    -Some foods go down fast (like sandwiches, pasta or french fries) while others take time (like steak, fish, or corn on the cob). When I’m starving, I pick dishes that force me to eat slowly: utensil-intensive things, hot things, spicy things etc. You can’t just shovel in the curry, you know?

    -Start with soup or salad. The first you can’t scarf without burning your tongue and the second you have to take time to chew-they take the edge off so you can calm down for the rest of your meal.

    -Separate your groups. Don’t just lump your chicken and potatoes together, but eat one consistently until you get tired of it before starting on the other.

    -Have a fizzy or tart drink by your plate (like a cup of club soda with a splash of cranberry juice). After every few bites, take a sip to shock yourself into awareness.

    • hlthygrl says:

      I love these tips, Tamara. I definitely find that eating something that requires a fork and knife helps slow me down. Eating baked chicken and couscous and green beans naturally takes a lot longer than something like a sandwich, like you point out. Thanks for adding to the convo and sharing your insight! xo…Sunny

  2. katrina m says:

    some good suggestions here…. although i would argue that ramen noodles are NOT nutritious, and i would avoid them if at all possible. i’ve eaten my share in the money-deprived college days, but those things have almost an entire day’s worth of sodium in one package if you aren’t careful.

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.