We all know that chewing food well helps digestion and eating less, and makes you get the most of the food you eat. Yet, go to any eatery during lunch time and observe people eating for just few minutes. What you’re likely to see is hands swooping at a speed of light, shoveling and scooping, mouths overfilled with food, tongues swirling and throats swallowing almost without chewing.
Yeah, today we are all busy. And busy people are experts in efficiency even when it comes to eating. The only trouble is, when it comes to eating, efficiency is not a good quality.
To start with, quick eating almost always results in overeating. This is so because the brain is not focused on the eating process, but on the goal of filling the stomach. And a full stomach does not immediately create satiety in the brain.
Only after about twenty minutes of eating, will you actually be able to tell if your belly is full or not, but if you’ve been filling your mouth the entire time, it is already too late.
One of the most important things you can do to help your digestive system is chew your food into soupy mixture before swallowing. Chewing breaks food down into small particles so that your digestive juices can break it down even further. Saliva also contains digestive enzymes that help the body absorb nutrients. In short, chewing well allows the nutrients from the chewed food to be more quickly released and assimilated.
If this sounds too scientific to you, I will give you few more reasons of how eating fast and without properly chewing, is not just ugly but is actually bad for you. What happens when you, for one reason or another, have almost swallowed your lunch (and God forbid dinner), is “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.
Even before you’ve completely finished your meal, you start burping. After a while you start swelling, which is then followed by few more symptoms such as irritable bowels, stomach aches and heartburns, only to be finished with the nastiest of all – farting. Sounds familiar? I bet it does.
Changing the subject to a milder issue, I will give one more motive to chew properly. When you do so, you actually eat slower, much slower. And when you eat slowly you enjoy food more. Keeping a food in the mouth longer gives tongue a chance to recognize flavors and it sends positive messages to the brain. Simple.
You can learn to eat more slowly if you want, it’s absolutely up to you. Below, I’ve listed few tips – just a small number of things that have worked for me.
Take smaller bites and chew your food thoroughly. Notice the texture of what you are eating and appreciate what it adds to your meal. This is something I need to remind myself of directly before I eat, so I keep this on my to-do list.
Put down your fork
You probably have heard it many times – put your fork between bites. It is a classic recommendation and it works. Putting your fork down forces you to relax a bit and focus on chewing what you already have.
Eating slowly and chewing well takes efforts. Both are improved by practicing. The more you practice the easier it becomes.
Eat with other slow eaters
We all have an unconscious tendency to imitate people we are near. If you are dining with a ferocious eater, you might find yourself mimicking their bad habit and eating quickly just to keep up. To help yourself to eat slower, try finding slow eaters to influence you or be the one that will influence other people – everybody benefits.
Have a pleasant conversation
When you talk with someone over lunch or dinner you actually eat slower and it’s much more difficult to talk with your mouth full. So, you tend to make longer intervals in between the bites. The only difficulty is trying to resist the temptation to swallow quickly in order to be able to answer or comment on what your companion has said to you.