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Eat All You Want on Thanksgiving, Just Eat It Slowly

No one is taking your plate away. And if they are, ask them to stop.

Instead of eating less this Thanksgiving, try eating slower. These are the findings of a new study presented at the American Heart Association, which suggests that slow eaters are less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which includes heart disease, diabetes and a battery of risk factors for stroke. In other words, this year you’d best save the gobbling for the Turkeys and take your time.

“When people eat fast they tend not to feel full and are more likely to overeat,” study coauthor Takayuki Yamaji, a cardiologist at Hiroshima University in Japan, said in a statement. “Eating fast causes bigger glucose fluctuation, which can lead to insulin resistance.” 

This is not the first time science has encouraged people to stop eating  like they’re cartoon characters with unhinged jaws. Previous studies have shown that eating slowly maximizes fullness and burns calories. Other studies suggest that this is an especially effective strategy to help overweight and obese individuals manage their weight. It’s not just an old wives tale that it takes 20 minutes to feel full (it seems to be about right) so slow eating helps people stop eating when they’re full but haven’t quite noticed it yet.  Other research shows that eating less could increase longevity. That’s many more Thanksgivings for those who take their sweet time cleaning their plates.

Yamaji and colleagues confirmed that slow eating is the way to go by analyzing data from 642 men and 441 women who did not have metabolic syndrome when the study began in 2008. Participants were sorted into three cohorts, depending on whether their eating pace was self-reported as fast, normal, or slow. When researchers followed up five years later they found that fast eaters were 11.6 percent more likely to have developed metabolic syndrome than normal and slow eaters. “Eating more slowly may be a crucial lifestyle change to help prevent metabolic syndrome,” Yamaji said, adding that while the research was conducted in Japan, the takeaways are likely universal.

“We also believe our research would apply to a U.S. population.”

New York University cardiologist and AHA spokesperson Nieca Goldberg (who was not involved in the study), agrees that the findings are applicable and practical, and a healthy habit to consider long after the holidays. “When you eat slowly, you’re much more aware of your eating. You’re chewing your food properly and you’re also slowing down digestion,” Goldberg told TIME.