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Commit to this mealtime mantra: slow down!

Speed limits help keep drivers in line on highways and byways. Turns out they’d be helpful at the dinner table, too. Eating slowly may reduce your risk of becoming obese and protect your heart, according to new research. In the study of more than a thousand adults, researchers divided participants into three groups based on whether they described themselves as slow, normal, or fast eaters. Five years later, the self-described fast eaters were more likely to have metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms including high blood pressure and large waist circumference, compared with normal or slow eaters. Metabolic syndrome is bad news: it ups your risk of heart disease and diabetes even more than the individual symptoms do. The fast eaters in the study also gained more weight and had higher blood sugar. The slow eaters remained the healthiest, metabolically speaking. Shifting out of the fast lane starts with intention — keep in mind that changing habits is hard, and remind yourself why you want to slow down. Some tips for doing so: putting utensils down between bites, chewing your food well, and even eating with your non-dominant hand. Savoring the flavors and relishing the textures of your food is another choice that helps keep the mantra alive. You’ll slow down and enjoy your food more than when you wolf it down. Call it another win for the world’s tortoises — and your health!

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