Being surrounded by so much food on Thanksgiving probably only makes you want to do one thing: Make like a turkey, and gobble through your meal. But there’s a scientific reason to slow down at this year’s feast.
While it can be hard to pace yourself when your food is ridiculously delicious, the American Heart Association discovered slow eaters are less likely to become obese or develop metabolic syndrome—which can increase your risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—compared to those who shovel in their meals.
After five years of analyzing the eating speeds of 642 men and 441 women, researchers found fast eaters to be 11.6 percent more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to 6.5 percent of normal eaters and 2.3 percent of slow eaters. Additionally, fast eaters tended to weigh more, have a higher blood sugar level, and sport a larger waistline.
“When people eat fast, they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance.” —Takayuki Yamaji, MD
“Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” said study author Takayuki Yamaji, MD, in the press release. “When people eat fast, they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat. Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance.”
How can you prevent the occurrence of speed-eating–related damage? Make it your mission to slow down—and according to one doc, that means taking at least 30 minutes to finish your meal.
And while you’re at it, eat mindfully: “Eat in a situation where it’s conducive to eating. If it’s at your desk, you really need to not work at the same time you eat,” Nieca Goldberg, MD, NYU Langone cardiologist, told Time. “Even if it’s as short as a half hour, it’s better than doing it in 10 minutes while you’re answering your emails.”
Not only will slowing down enable you to really taste and enjoy your meal, but it will also help you stay healthy in the process. And, don’t worry—there’s more than enough pumpkin pie to go around.