Bodywork

Q:

Are Chopsticks Healthier than a Fork and Knife?

Everybody always says eating slowly is "better." And I can hardly get the food in my mouth with chopsticks. So does that make them healthier than the usual utensils?

Will you lose weight if you ditch the fork?     Photo: rebeccaselah/Flickr

A:Let’s start with the idea that eating slowly is “better.” It came from several studies that found self-reported fast eaters tend to consume more calories at each meal and gain more weight over time than people who consider themselves slow eaters.

Researchers theorized that eating slowly allows people to feel satiated before they eat too much, because it takes time for the gut to signal the brain that it is full. Slow eaters give their bodies that time to feel full before they overdo it.

But a recent study questions whether eating slowly is what helps those self-reported slow eaters avoid extra calories. Instead, it’s possible that slow eaters feel full faster because they pause to drink more water when they eat, which fills the stomach quickly.

To conduct the study, researchers allowed 30 women to eat as much food as they wanted for lunch, but controlled the womens’ water intake to about 10 ounces. The women ate about the same amount of calories in this experiment, regardless of whether they ate fast or slowly. It’s worth noting, however, that an hour after the meal, the slow eaters felt less hungry than the fast eaters. 

The bottom line: For every study in favor of slow eating, there’s another one that finds it doesn’t help reduce caloric intake at all. It’s possible drinking more water with your meals might help you avoid overdoing it. Eating with chopsticks, even if you stink at it, probably won’t; we know you’ll eventually develop enough dexterity to eat 65 M&Ms in one minute (about 227 calories) using chopsticks, the current Guinness World Record.

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