Eating too fast is a common problem for many people nowadays, owing to a busy lifestyle. For instance, a busy delivery driver can finish his lunch while waiting for two red lights. However, eating too fast can contribute to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, and may lead to other conditions.
Do you pay attention to how many times you chew your food during each meal? Do you only chew very few times before swallowing your food? Beware because this small habit can slowly undermine your health, leading to dangerous chronic diseases.
While eating, one’s stomach stretches and expands with the incoming food. This stretching motion will send a signal of satiety to the brain—a process that takes about 20 minutes.
If one eats too fast, one’s brain does not receive the signal of satiety in time. One will continue to consume too much food before he/she feels full.
As a result, one will not only consume too much food but also take in an excess amount of sugar and fat. This will lead to a higher fluctuation of blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance in the long run. 
Many studies have shown that eating too fast can contribute to obesity, high blood lipids, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
One meta-analysis found that eating too fast has a positive correlation with being overweight. Compared with slow eaters, fast eaters have twice as much of a chance of becoming overweight. The mean difference in the body mass indices (BMIs) between them was found to be 1.78 kg.m(-2). 
A 2019 study showed that eating speed was positively correlated with the prevalence of hypertriglyceridemia in 792 men and women aged 55 to 80 who were at high risk for cardiovascular diseases. Those who ate fast were 59 percent more likely to develop hypertriglyceridemia than participants who ate slower.
Hypertriglyceridemia is a type of hyperlipidemia. In addition to causing heart diseases, hyperlipidemia is also closely related to chronic diseases such as stroke, hypertension, and diabetes.
Dr. Liu Chungpin, a cardiologist and director of Yuping Clinic in Taiwan, shared that eating too fast could increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Fast eaters could experience chest tightness and chest pain after meals.
He explained that right after a meal, blood flow would be diverted to the stomach, leaving relatively less for the heart. Therefore, eating too fast would increase the burden on the heart. People with weak hearts, including those with stenocardia and coronary heart disease, would have an increased chance of angina pectoris after a meal.
In some cases, chest tightness may not be a heart problem. Some people eat too fast or have chest tightness after eating too much. It may be due to gastric acid reflux. As the esophagus is located right behind the heart, the discomfort caused by acid reflux feels very similar to that of the heart.
In addition, a large study conducted in Japan in 2019 pointed out that eating too fast was an important risk factor for Type 2 diabetes in the Japanese population. Another study showed that people who ate fast are 152 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who ate slowly.
Dr. Liu also stressed that in the case of some patients, their blood sugar levels remained high or they could not lose weight. Some patients stated, “I did not eat a lot. I only ate very little.” As more details were revealed, it turned out that these people were eating too fast.
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, people who eat too fast are not only prone to being overweight and diabetic but their autonomic nervous system and endocrine system are also affected. When the situation persists, their constitution can become obesity-prone.
Traditional Chinese medicine has the theory of the five elements, where the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water constitute the myriad of things in nature, including the human internal organs. A systematic understanding of physiological and pathological mechanisms and inter-relationships between internal organs can be derived from the theory.
The element “wood” is characterized by an intrinsic nature to reach upwards and all around. The wood element corresponds to the liver and gallbladder, as well as the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nerve is responsible for maintaining the normal functions of the organs, such as blood circulation, digestion, metabolism, and endocrine dredging.
The element “earth” nurtures all things and corresponds to the spleen and stomach. The human body obtains nutrients through digestion and absorption from the spleen and stomach, which in turn nourish other organs.
Traditional Chinese medicine speaks of “earth stagnation and wood depression.” Chia-Ling Li, director of Aroma Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Taiwan, explained that when a person ate too fast or too much for a prolonged period of time, his/her spleen and stomach would be burdened with too much food and water, which could cause “earth stagnation,” or accumulation. Earth stagnation would further cause “wood depression,” which would then affect the autonomic nervous system, as well as digestion, metabolism, and the endocrine system.
For example, bile can help decompose and metabolize fats. Eating too fast will prevent the autonomic nerve from dredging bile, thus clogging the gallbladder meridian. Insufficient bile secretion will slow down fat metabolism, causing obesity.
When nutrients cannot be utilized or metabolized in the body, fat will accumulate in the body and become “phlegm,” and the accumulated liquid will become “dampness,” forming a “phlegm-dampness constitution.” According to traditional Chinese medicine, obesity and metabolic syndromes are related to the phlegm-dampness constitution.
A phlegm-dampness constitution will lead to an interesting phenomenon, in which fast eaters become obese while not eating much. Li said with a smile, “If you talk about this concept with a doctor of Western medicine, he or she will definitely consider it nonsense, wondering how can one become obese when consuming so few calories?” However, it has indeed been observed that such cases do exist in her patients. It happens because metabolic and digestive problems are related to a phlegm-dampness constitution.
Li, who also specializes in complex gastrointestinal conditions, shared that some diseases and symptoms that seem to be unrelated to the intestines or stomach are actually related to eating too fast.
Insomnia: Eating too fast can disturb the autonomic nervous system. Some patients suffer from insomnia, along with discomfort along the gallbladder meridian. These patients can obtain better sleep by improving their digestive function and dredging their gallbladder meridian. There is no need for sleeping pills.
Soreness on the outside of the thigh: Some patients suffer from soreness on the outside of their thigh for no apparent reason. When taking their pulses, Li found that the patients’ gallbladder meridians were clogged. She asked the patients how fast they ate, and they told her that they usually took only 10 to 15 minutes to finish a meal. As a result, their body manifested soreness, rather than endocrine disorders.
Epoch Times PhotoEpoch Times Photo
There are 12 meridians in the human body. The gallbladder meridian lies on the outer side of the thigh. According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain can be a result of a clogged or blocked meridian. The clogging of the gallbladder meridian had caused the pain on the outer side of the patient’s thigh.
Bitterness and sweetness in the mouth: Some people taste a sense of bitterness or sweetness in their mouths when they are not eating. This is a condition that can be a result of eating too fast. Eating too fast can clog the gallbladder meridian or accumulate phlegm and dampness, resulting in a change of taste in the mouth. Bitterness in the mouth is possibly caused by the clogging of the gallbladder meridian, whereas sweetness in the mouth can be a manifestation of phlegm.
Continuous hiccups: Eating too fast can easily lead to hiccups or abdominal bloating, which usually heals on its own. However, one patient continued to hiccup for several months, while no abnormality could be found with standard hospital examinations. He eventually came to Li for help. She knocked on the patient’s stomach and found that he was not bloated. She then checked his pulse and learned that his gallbladder meridian was clogged.
It turned out that this patient also ate fast on a regular basis. Based on her diagnosis, Li made a prescription to unclog the patient’s gallbladder meridian, together with acupuncture practice on the acupuncture points of his gallbladder meridian. The patient’s hiccups were soon cured.
Eating too fast will bring about many problems, and there is only one way to improve it, that is, to eat slower.
Here are some tips to help you slow down when you eat:
It can be difficult to break one’s eating habits. However, thinking about the immediate benefits this simple change can bring can help you during this process.
A study released by Kyushu University in Japan found that eating slowly could prevent obesity. The study pointed out that slow eaters were less likely to gain weight than fast eaters, and that eating slowly was associated with a lower BMI and smaller waist circumference.


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