Electronic Utensils Help Fight the Battle of Obesity

mindful eating, HAPIfork, weight loss
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How would you like a personal coach with you while you eat to help you slow down, enjoy your food, and potentially consume fewer calories? Look no further than the HAPIfork and HAPIspoon introduced this week at the Las Vegas International CES, an annual showcase of the latest electronic devices.

The HAPIfork contains a motion sensor to determine when it is being raised to the mouth. If you are eating too fast, its vibration and a blinking light will warn you – eventually teaching you to slow down so that your meal time slows to an idea of 20 to 30 minutes. Between meals, the utensils can be connected to a computer via USB to upload data for tracking your progress.

Eating mindfully and more slowly is one proven weight loss technique. The stomach takes about 20 minutes to signal to the brain that it is full at which point it sends out signals for us to stop eating. Some studies suggest that this one simple tip can potentially be enough to cut calories equivalent to a weight loss of 20 pounds in a year without making any other changes.

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Eating more slowly can also improve digestion. “Faster eaters take larger bite sizes and chew less before swallowing,” says Kathleen Melanson, not involved with the HAPIfork but who has presented data on slower eating at a 2011 meeting of the Obesity Society in Orlando. This can lead to conditions such as gastric reflux. Also, another study found that our digestive systems are 30 to 40% less effective when we eat too quickly or are less mindful about our meals.

Slowing down for meals can also improve your mental health. The dining experience itself is more pleasurable and taking the time to truly taste your food can bring about a satisfaction with your food that may help cut down on cravings. We have all eaten a meal too quickly and barely remember what the food tastes like which tends to make us search out more food.

The HAPIfork and HAPIspoon, made by HAPIlabs based out of Hong Kong but with offices in the Phillipines, Indonesia, France and the US, will be available for shipping around April or May 2013 and will cost $99 each. The utensils can be washed by hand, but a dishwasher is not recommended.

Don’t have that kind of cash to spend on a special fork and spoon? There are other ways to slow down during meals that cost considerably less:
• Eat with chopsticks.
• Eat with your non-dominant hand.
• Chew your food 30 to 50 times per bite.
• Eat without TV, newspaper or computer.
• Eat sitting down.
• Put the proper portions of food on your plate and try to make the meal last at least 20 minutes (set a timer if you need to)

Resources:
HAPILabs, Inc. (Picture credit: Courtesy of HAPILabs)
The Center for Mindful Eating
Brigham and Women's Hospital

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