Do you ever think about how much you chew your food? How many bites do you take when you eat? C’mon, REALLY think about it. Is it 5? 10? 2? Do you even chew at all (or do you just gulp and swallow)?
Most people totally take digestion for granted, but it is in fact is one of the essential jobs of the human body, and a critical component when it comes to managing your weight. And it all starts with chewing.
Yes, you have a mouth for a reason! Chewing is one of the very FIRST steps we take to start the cascade of actions that begins that process of digestion.
Chewing involves not only the mechanical breakdown of your food, but a chemical breakdown as well. Not only is your food dissected into smaller and smaller bits by your teeth, but your saliva produces enzymes that further break down your food’s molecules. Your saliva also contains softening agents to allow the food to be molded into a ball (called a bolus) for swallowing. In addition, the act of chewing alerts the rest of your digestive system to start its engines.
Well-chewed food glides easily through the esophagus and into the stomach. Dried and unchewed food has a more difficult journey through the entire digestive and metabolic chain reaction. There is no question that the longer you chew, the easier digestion is on the rest of your body.
Chewing alone can eliminate bloating, gas and abdominal pain. Other great benefits include:
- Promotes weight loss by creating an automatic “delay” factor into a meal. Your body doesn’t figure out that it’s full until after a lag of about 20 minutes. The longer you chew, the longer it takes to eat, causing you to eat LESS quantity in a 20 minute time frame. Prolonged chewing is a fabulous way to prevent dangerous overeating.
- A cheap and easy way to increase the overall functioning of the digestive system and increase your energy levels. By freeing up the energy of the digestive system in this simple way, it frees you up to have the energy to do other things.
- Helps the body to release more enzymes and produce more hydrochloric acid. What happens when we have more circulating enzymes is that the food is more readily broken down and delivered to the cells. This also helps the body to feel full and satiated as well.
We are not going to kid you that this whole chewing thing is easy. It’s not, and it takes practice. So we are going to give you an exercise that can help improve your chewing habit. It involves conscious chewing.
The act of chewing consciously allows you to appreciate, enjoy and savor all the complex and subtle taste sensations of the food you’re eating. So here we go. Try this for just one meal of the day and see how you do:
- As you enjoy a meal, take the time to chew each bite fully, until it feels like mush in your mouth. The objective is to liquefy your food. Depending on the texture of the food, this may take more or less chews to get to this state.
- Focus on the taste and texture and how they might change and sweeten the longer you chew.
- Go slowly and really savor the experience. The added benefit of this meditation is that you can actually enjoy the food MORE as it lingers in your mouth.
We will leave you with this thought: DRINK YOUR SOLIDS, AND CHEW YOUR LIQUIDS. This means that you should aim to chew your solid foods until they are in a liquid form, and when you drink liquids (like a smoothie), go ahead and “chew” them first when they are in your mouth before swallowing. So don’t forget to “chew” your soups and smoothies!