Don’t Forget to CHEW YOUR FOOD!
We’ve all heard this repeatedly throughout our lives. As parents you’ve most likely said it many times to your kids. But do YOU actually do it? And while it goes without saying that chewing your food prevents you from choking, are there additional benefits to it? Absolutely, and significant ones too!
I clearly remember I had uncle in Greece that spent quite a bit of time chewing his food. Each bite was thoroughly chewed before he moved on to the next one. Of course, that made him a very slow eater and the amount of chewing he did was obvious to everyone. Little did I realize that his chewing was super beneficial!
What are those benefits?
- Chewing your food can keep you healthy! According to Elizabeth Lipski, author of Digestive Wellness, chewing stimulates the glands behind our ears and jaws. This causes the glands to release hormones that eventually stimulate T-cell production. Why does this matter? Because T-cells form the core of our immune system and healthy T-cell production equals healthy immune system.
- Chewing your food will helps you digest carbohydrates and fats more effectively. Carb and fat digestion BEGINS with chewing. If you don’t chew these food groups appropriately, you are immediately setting yourself up for possible digestive distress. Why? Because you are forcing the rest of your digestive mechanisms to try and digest these foods WITHOUT the much needed enzymes that come from your saliva. This leads to …
- Nutritional deficiencies. Effectively chewing your food allows your body to more appropriately absorb and digest the nutrients in your food. While nutritional deficiencies can be a result of many different digestive processes gone wrong in your body, chewing your food is the first step in attempting to identify and correct any issues!
- Chewing your food significantly reduces your chances of having immediate digestive distresses following a meal. What does this mean? Less gas, less bloating, less belching, less acid reflux, just to name a few, and overall less digestive related flare ups.
- Chewing each bite for at least 30 seconds will allow you to feel fuller on less food, which of course, if you’re trying to lose weight is a HUGE benefit! It can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that it’s full. So one can definitely eat a huge amount of food in 20 minutes, if eating fast, resulting in over eating and weight gain.
Was my uncle thin? Yes. Did he overeat? No.
- Taking the time to chew your food relieves STRESS! There’s probably several factors that come into play here, but I know for me, forcing myself to SLOW DOWN just to chew my food, is a stress reliever on its own. Was uncle relaxed? Often.
These are just a few example of the benefits of chewing your food. Now, how can YOU remember to chew your food?
Eating fast and not chewing your food is a HABIT and takes intention and action to learn to slow down.
As children we start off chewing our food very well, keeping it in our mouths as long as needed, swallowing and moving on to the next bite when we’re ready. My children chew their food slowly and sometimes keep it in their mouths for up to 5 minutes! But as we develop and mature within a fast paced society, our eating habits also become faster and we lose the ability to naturally and instinctively chew and eat slowly. Here are a few tips that might help…
- Use a timer. This might be comical and an oxymoron (stress relief with a timer) BUT it is very easy to read this post and then, when you sit down to eat your lunch later on today, completely forget that you have even read this, let alone remember to chew, until you’rr almost done with your food! Set a reminder, or put a little note on your fridge, prior to meal times, just to be able to remember to start your meal off by chewing your food.
- Chew each bite at least 30 times. Initially, you will have to literally count to 30 every time you put a bite in your mouth, that’s how odd it feels. Eventually, you will be able to instinctively chew at an approximate 30 bite interval.
- Put your utensil down after each bite and put your hands in your lap until you’re done chewing. Then start again.
- Avoid distractions. Try not to read or watch tv while eating, especially during the beginning of your re-training. Of course, minimizing distractions can be hard, if not impossible, particularly if you eat with little children, but it CAN be done. Deal with distractions as they happen but continue to focus on your chewing at the same time.
Hope these tips help you to enjoy the benefits of thoroughly chewing your food.
Have you been chewing on foods that you feel like you shouldn’t be chewing on?! Join me on my upcoming 10 day Jumpstart for weight loss and start chewing on some healthier foods, starting Tuesday, October 4th! Click here for more information.