Slow eaters

eatingIn my family, we are notoriously slow eaters.  If there is a Froom at the table, it’s a toss up who will be sitting there last.  I have to say that right up there on top are my dad and my Uncle Max.  I have NEVER seen anyone eat as slow as they do.  Now, in my immediate group, it’s me.  I am always last and usually, sitting there alone because I’m sure everyone else is sick of sitting there when they’re done eating.  I love eating with my dad because I’m never sitting at the table eating last.

We used to go to the Erickson’s every Sunday for dinner.  All five siblings and their families.  Every single Sunday.  It was a lot of fun and it was good to see everyone every week.  We used to sit at the table, the women anyway and talk for a really long time.  Call it bonding or whatever you want to, it was really nice.  But there was NO slow eating at that table.  Paul likes to tell the tale that if they didn’t eat up, and fast, the food would disappear.  So I guess that’s not the same thing as what I’m talking about.

I’ve also heard other people who eat really fast explain it in that way too.  That if they didn’t shovel it in, it would be gone.  Big families, little food, older brothers or what have you.  Most people I know don’t eat the way I do.  Sometimes I get embarrassed and just say I’m done when I’m not.

My dad’s family were farmers.  They ate 3 big meals a day.  For breakfast a piece of toast and glass of juice just didn’t cut it.  There was porridge and homemade bread and most days, canned fruit.  I don’t mean the kind you buy in a can, my grandma canned it herself.  Then “dinner” (it wasn’t called lunch) was meat, potatoes, veggies, bread (again) and dessert.  Supper was the same thing. Lunch was a “light snack” we’d eat before bed.

More than anything around that table though was love.  I’m convinced now that they ate to communicate.  We laughed and talked.  We joked and teased.  We talked about what we did and what we were going to do.  I think nobody ate fast because we had so much fun together that we just wanted to drag it out.  I don’t think it was about eating.  

I also really taste what I eat.  I know some people who eat so fast I wonder if they even taste what anything tastes like.  I can make a bowl of peanuts last all afternoon and Paul can eat them in under 10 minutes and he’s off looking for the next thing to eat.  I’m not saying that’s wrong, only that I could never do that.

I don’t think this has anything to really do with food.  We have so many people now claiming to be obese and eating the wrong foods. What about when we ate like this?  Nobody was anywhere near fat. Or is it like they say, that when you eat slow, you get full faster as the faster you eat, your brain can’t tell you soon enough when your full until your suddenly way OVER full?

Does anyone anymore take the time to eat and converse with each other over a good meal or has this whole thing gone by the wayside?  Do you enjoy your food or do you eat only to get full?  I would give anything to have a meal at that old table again with all those people.  Where have old fashioned family dinners gone?

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22 Responses to Slow eaters

  1. SKL says:

    I am a very slow eater, too. We also had family dinners when I was a young kid. In high school, not so much, because my parents were taking night classes. At that time in our lives, it was grab it when you can. But by then, my slow eating habit was established.

    Our family of 8 used to all sit together and have an actual meal, for supper, every day. We talked about whatever was on everyone’s mind. In my grown-up life, I never really got back to that, because it just wasn’t important to anyone but me. Well, now I am “the mom” and my girls and I sit and eat together at least twice a day. They are just getting old enough to actually socialize at the table. It is a wonderful bonding experience, not to mention an opportunity to teach manners!

    As for why I eat slowly, I am not sure it’s “learned.” I couldn’t “scarf” food down if I tried – well, except for a couple kinds of yummy food that are very easy to eat. I can’t even gulp coffee. I sip a single cup for hours. My older daughter is the same way. But my younger daughter, and some other people I know, have to force themselves to chew lest they inhale their entire meal in seconds.

    I do believe there are great health benefits to eating slowly. I hope it is something that can be learned, but so far, I haven’t seen proof of that.

  2. nikki says:

    Where have old fashioned family dinners gone? Well on a normal evening they’re right here in this house! Sitting around a table at dinner time is for so much more than eating. When I was growing up we always sat down at the table, the difference in my house was it’d almost always end up with me in tears sent to my bedroom. It was simply to eat, not converse. That’s why it’s very important for me that my family sits down together and talk about their day. I know people who don’t even own a kitchen table!! I couldn’t even imagine! When we have my 2 year old niece we ALWAYS sit down because I know she doesn’t get that at home. Her mom hands them all a plate and they eat on the floor in the living room in front of the TV. Not okay with me. She needs that bonding, that family closeness you get from sitting around a table at dinner. I’m not saying we don’t do that occasionally, eat in front of the TV. 1-2 times a month maybe.
    I’m not sure where I fall as in how fast I eat. I’d say I’m right in the middle. I don’t eat much so that’s usually why I’m done first. For the longest time my food would be cold by the time I sat down to eat. Getting everyone else loaded up and milk poured and getting up to get everything I’d forgotten. Now, no one comes to the table to eat until it’s ALL on the table and we can sit down at the same time. A warm meal is so good, I can’t believe I went so long without one! Great Post Joy!

  3. SKL says:

    Nikki, you are so right about a warm meal! I now have my 2-year-olds trained to wait until I finish my plate before they expect me to get them more milk, wipe their gooey hands, etc. Moms are people too!

  4. javajunkee says:

    my dad (RIP) came from a family of farmers too. He grew up on a farm with a lot of brothers. Still they didn’t eat fast. I can remember going to my grandmas house when I was little and we would just be like forever at the table. My dad was also a slow eater …we found out later that he was holding a terrible secret and that was that probably 10 years before he was diagnosed with esophigal cancer it was probably because he had trouble swallowing and wasn’t telling anybody. Since we had all grown up eating slow and sitting at the table forever none of us took it as a clue that something was wrong. We just knew that dad loved his food and he loved conversation.

    when we are here at home I am always the last one done eating. I can make 1 plate last as long as the others do 2 plates. When my bff and I go out to eat which hasn’t been in like forever..she’s always ready for plate 2 while I’m still on plate 1. I get to the “full” stage quicker than others I guess.

    now I’m going to be watching how quick everybody is eating. 🙂 Good question!

  5. SKL says:

    I forgot to add about having to eat fast to protect what’s on one’s plate. I have five siblings, and it was not unusual for them to covet what I had on my plate. I have the additional oddities that (a) I always eat one thing (beans, potatoes, whatever) completely until starting on the next thing, and (b) I save the best for last. So there were times when a brother would snatch the item that I wanted most, right off my plate, with the excuse that “I thought you didn’t want it, you weren’t eating it.” My family was on a very tight budget, and we usually didn’t have enough for “seconds” of the “good stuff.” So that really made me mad. It only happened a copule of times, because it was made clear that everyone needs to respect everyone else’s plate. We’re not animals, after all – though some of us do act like them more often than not. So I am not buying the idea that you have to eat fast to protect your plate.

  6. Sue says:

    Growing up, we sat down at the table to eat and chat. We didn’t eat fast, but it didn’t take hours either. We still sit down to supper and I like that. I don’t like it when Toby rushes out the door to go fishing or golfing and there I (we actually…kids and grandma if we’re eating together) sit.

    For farmers, which my dad’s family was, I think it was about taking a break so they did sit longer. They were out in the field sun up to sun down so logically the only breaks they got were at meal times. If they wanted coffee or a snack, my grandma brought it to them if it wasn’t meal time. There wasn’t extra time outside of breakfast/lunch/dinner to be sitting around.

    We never had big Sunday dinners with all of the family. We saved those for holidays and we did make them last a long time. We use to get together for the football games on Sundays, but even that has peetered out. Once a month would be fun to have us all get together for a big meal. Something to think about…

  7. Joy says:

    I also “arrange” my food and “prepare” it before I start eating. I cut it in really small pieces and take small bites. If we are out to dinner and our salads come, I’m not even done cutting it up and getting my dressing spread around and stirred up and lot of people I’m with are done with theirs before I’ve even started. I am NEVER done with my salad before the main meal comes either. We had Subway last night and Paul was done with his soup and his sandwich before my soup was half gone and I hadn’t even started my sub yet.

  8. nikki says:

    I TOTALLY agree Sue!!!!

  9. Otto Mann says:

    I am a NOTORIOUSLY slow eater.

    As a matter of fact, I’m still finishing up my plate from Thanksgiving as we speak!!!

  10. Joy says:

    Me too Otto Mann!!!!! LMAO!!!

  11. Pammy says:

    I miss that family sit downs at meals.Now that my kids are grown and gone,I eat alone.Growing up,we all sat at the table for meals,discussing our day.I eat fast and at times slow,depending on the place.At home,alone I eat faster.When I have others with me and sit at a table,I eat slower.I guess its the company and conversation.When I eat out at a restaurant,I eat slow.I love to talk.Its the one time I think I actually take the time to enjoy my food.But I have never been as slow as my sister Bonnie and my dad.AT gatherings we would patiently wait for my dad to finish his main meal(only half done),so we could have our desert.It was afamily joke.I miss those days,But I still have my sister who has carried on our family tradition of being a real slooooooooow eater.So thats cool and brings back fond memories of my dad.

  12. Just a Mom says:

    We sit down for dinner at the table every night in my house. I will admit it, I am Speedy Gonzales when it comes to eating. I have a few reasons for this: Growing up our dinner table was nothing but lecture time, so the faster we got down the faster we could be excused. When I went to work in the restaurant business, I was lucky if I got 15 minutes to scarf something down. Now I just eat like that out of habit!

  13. Joy says:

    Pam, your dad was the slowest. My dad too. I’d forgotten about Bonnie. Yup, she’s up there. I miss sitting there too. Your dad always used to use so much pepper. I remember everyone teasing him about that.

  14. Pammy says:

    Years down the road we gave up waiting for him to finish his meal.We all began our desert.And by the time he was eating his desert,we were doing the dishes.But we all still had a great time visiting.And dad was the one who said we should not wait.Thats cause the grandkids came along.They tried to wait,but it got to hard.He was awesome and I miss him everyday.I am so happy Joy you still have your dad.when my dad died,i literally felt like an orphan.No parents.I no it sounds wierd,but I still do.

  15. Ah Joy, I can definitely sympathize with you! But, I am ashamed to say, I wasn’t always a slow eater like you – I used to be one of the shovelers. Only after I began to want to lose weight did I begin to eat slower and realize how much more enjoyable it is – plus how much less I eat – when I eat slowly.
    I think my favorite thing about being in the US is how my family and I linger over meals. We’ll get started slowly, eat slowly, and then take forever over coffee and dessert, only for the pure pleasure of wanting to be longer in each others’ company. I love the ritual of eating together as a way to spend time together, it’s time honored and beautiful, and one of the oldest on earth I should think.
    I love your description of the way your father’s family ate – how wonderful to have lived in a time where you didn’t gain weight from eating three hearty meals a day because the food was healthy, home grown, and you worked and moved all day so you actually needed all three meals!

  16. SanityFound says:

    I was brought up eating in front of the TV then at boarding school we were set a time limit and if we weren’t finished we had to leave it behind so it was eat as fast as you can or starve… what you describe sounds like a fairytale to me, so warm and nice!

  17. Gary says:

    When I was growing up we always sat at the dinner table together to eat our dinner. We didn’t converse much because everyone was always shoveling food into their mouth including myself.

    Sitting at the dinner table together and conversing about the day while eating has become an important part of the day in my house. Over the years, I have learned to slow down while eating and actually ENJOY the food I’m eating. I’m usually the last one to leave the dinner table at my house as well. 🙂

  18. Amy Hunter says:

    I eat breakfast and lunch at a reasonable pace. At breakfast, I’m half asleep and just have a bowl of cereal. Weekdays, I work while I’m eating lunch, so I nibble, then type, nibble, then type. Dinner, however, I usually eat pretty quickly. I don’t always eat all my dinner at once, though. I tend to eat two or three smaller amounts during the evening, rather than one big meal.

    Years ago, I took a meditation class and one of the exercises was to eat very slowly so that you really tasted each bite. I found that I sometimes don’t like the taste and texture of food if I eat too slowly. If something is mushy like meatloaf, for example, it can start to gross me out if I chew it too much.

  19. Joy says:

    That’s so funny about chewing slowly Amy. I’ll bet some things would taste gross after a while of chewing. I don’t chew slow but I cut things up in very small pieces. The way most people would cut meat for example, I’ll cut it into fourths of what they would put in their mouth. I can’t put to much in my mouth. I love small bites.

  20. Doraz says:

    Those old fashioned dinners are around, most of the time at my house. It depends on everyone’s schedule. I really enjoy talking with everyone at the table over what is happening in their lives. I think we are all too rushed , that when we do have a chance to relax and eat slowly and enjoy what we are eating, we should. I grew up in a big Italian family! With us, it was all about eating and talking. We did a lot of smacking around , too! Ha Ha Ha I loved this post. It brought up many memories!

  21. Karen Joy says:

    Hi believe Pam and Joy said all I wanted to here.Yup,our Dads were slow eaters Joy!And I am so amuzed when i eat with Bonnie..soooo slow!Though I must say I get restless when we are out at a restaraunt and I have to sit and wait patiently for her to be done!
    Amy’s comment about taking a class and being told to chew slower,I relate to.Some diet guru I heard once said to chew I think 20 times each forkfull.GROOOOSS!My husband and I tried it and besides being bored as we sat and stared at eachother chewing it was aweful…MUSH!I will remain the semi-fast eater that I am.

  22. Healthy Eating: A New Approach
    Last night I experimented with an idea for healthy eating with pretty good results.

    First, here’s the background (which is not really directly related to the healthy eating idea so you can skip this part if you want although towards the end this part does come back around to the point).

    We were invited to a friend’s house for dinner last night. Four couples – (two of whom we had not met before – all shrinks except for me and one other guy who is a pediatrician). At first I thought I really missed the dress code memo because one woman was wearing a black skirt and had on dark stockings with like a design thing going on and a red cashmere sweater and her husband was wearing an olive colored suede sport coat kind of thing. But my wife was wearing jeans and so was I and so was another woman. I also had on a black turtle neck which was a little dressy that I had bought right after Christmas at Nordtroms when they were practically giving stuff away (I also bought two winter coats at the same sale for $90 at the “two for one” rack and have even gotten a compliment on the jacket). But I had worn my slippers because I rushed out of the house and they were comfortable and then shortly after we arrived I felt self conscious having shown up in slippers so I took them off and was just in my socks for the rest of the night. I imagine people noticed but no one said anything. (I was glad I did not wear my second choice shoes – my son’s really beaten up Timberlands which are a size and half too big for me but I think look really cool and he says chicks dig them but they are really beaten up and are splattered with paint and I correctly at the last minute figured they were not appropriate for a dinner party so went with the slippers instead).

    At dinner people compared notes on movies though no one but me had seen Lars and The Real Girl or Waltzing With Bashir which are the only movies I have anything to say about at the moment but I did explain the historical setting of Bashir to the woman in the fancy stockings who said she wanted to see it. There is only so much you can ask a shrink about their work and when I say I am retired people inevitably ask, ” Well, what do you do?” and to me that is like asking, “Tell me in detail, everything you ate this week.” (I mean I do not recall exactly what I eat in any week but I know I ate). I am not even sure how to answer the question, “Lets see… the last few weeks have been pretty busy because I read a friend’s screenplay in progress a bunch of times as closely as I could as he sent successive drafts plus I have been reading a lot of fiction, and I met with a friend who wanted some financial advice and that took a whole afternoon and the plumber installed a new water heater because the old one broke and since it broke on a Saturday it was not easy finding someone to replace it right away and that took a day, not to mention current events which is like “Whoa, what is going to happen today”, etc etc”.

    One guy at the dinner takes photographs as a hobby and has been in a photography show and has a web site with his pictures and he showed us the site during a lull and I thought his stuff was really, really good but ever since digital cameras were invented photography has really gone down hill in my opinion because almost anyone can produce something so terrific now that its all like so what unless maybe you use a primitive pin hole camera which would impress me a lot and I think would be interesting and challenging. But, as I said, his stuff was very bold and abstract and strong and in a sense seemed to be a pretty good expression of his personality (to the extent I could tell what he is like because, as I said, this was the first time I had met him.) Anyway, as I was leaving he said to me, “Hey, since you are not doing anything maybe you would like to be my rep.” And I said, “What is a rep?” and he said, ” Present my work to galleries” and I said, “Are you being serious?” and he said, “Yes” but kind of looked a little sheepish which I thought meant either he was joking but realized I did not get the joke or he was serious and realized I was confused and I said, ” Well, I am generally open to stuff but I am not sure that is my thing but let me look at your web site some more.” but I decided on the spot that I hate sales and this sounded like sales to me and I do know a photography gallery owner in the city and thought of making an introduction but decided that was not a good idea because knowing a gallery owner socially does not qualify me to recommend anyone to her.

    So here’s the food healthy eating idea: (I had gotten this idea because at one point in the conversation we were talking about driving fast and how many speeding tickets people have gotten and where they get them and how what a racket that is and how much over the speed limit you can go without getting a ticket and maybe showing a cop your special PBA card but what exactly do you say when showing it to him and one guy is very into sports cars and his wife said if he gets one more ticket his license will be suspended and he said that was not true because speeding tickets only stay on your record for 39 months (that seems like a very specific thing to know off the top of your head) and they used to have a really souped up mini cooper but for some reason they got rid of it and now they have some sort of hybrid that is out of production and I thought their interaction about how many tickets he has was winning in a Jackie Gleeson Honeymooners kind of way and I decided they remind me of Alice and Ralph Kramden because they seem to buy odd cars and are thinking of selling their house (at the worst time in history to sell a house) and, I don’t know, it all kind of put in my mind something Ralph would come up with and Alice would get caught up in until she pulled Ralph back down to earth (at one point I lost track of what everyone was saying because I was making these parallels but no one noticed that I was lost for second and I got back on conversational track pretty quickly) and anyway my friend, the pediatrician, commented on how slowly I drive (I am a really slow driver although I have started to drive a little faster lately which he, my friend the pediatrician, also mentioned) and all this talk about speed gave me this idea about eating slowly and I realized that if I ate at my usual pace I would be finished eating before anyone else and would then help myself to unnecessary seconds and/or also be kind of stuck with nothing to occupy my hands at the table so instead I challenged myself to eat way slow, I mean, way slow. One bite, fork down, small bites to see if I could not only finish last but finish last by a lot and see if anyone noticed how slow an eater I am. Well, it went really well, I put down my fork after each bite and I became pretty conscious of the flavors of the food (great home made Indian food – really good) because I knew it would be a while until I put another bite in my mouth so I made each bite and the flavor last. Also, because I was involved in this slow eating contest with myself my mind was focused (or maybe “anchored” is a better word to describe it) in the contest and the food so my thoughts kind of stayed on the food and I was maybe out of the 8 people there number 1 or 2 from the bottom in terms of saying stuff and when we left I felt like I had left something on the plate, so to speak, which was a good feeling…

    So my new idea about healthy eating is to see if I can eat more slowly.

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