Most of the moms will agree that we are always in a “rush”, running from one activity to other, often multitasking. I don’t know how and when this rushed lifestyle has become a habit and have impacted multiple aspects of my life, including meal time. When I started learning about our digestion in more detail and understanding how important chewing is for the overall process, I realized how little I chew my food compared to the recommended guidelines of turning it into a liquefied state.
The chewing process is the first step in our digestion, and is one of the most important aspects of digestion. How long you chew, can significantly impact your health.
Most common benefits of chewing well:
More nutrients and energy absorption from your food: When food is in smaller pieces, it is easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food particles.
Aids digestion: As you know that digestion starts with chewing. When we chew our food, the saliva is secreted from our gland. Saliva contains digestive enzymes, so the longer we chew, the more time these enzymes have to start breaking down your food, making digestion easier on our stomach and small intestine. The enzyme lipase helps break down fats and enzyme amylase begin to digest starches so the digestion of food starts in your mouth itself.
Reduce digestive problems: If you don’t chew well or long enough, the enzymes in the saliva that break down food cannot do their job and you could end up with poorly digestive foods in your stomach. When large particles of improperly chewed food enter your stomach and intestines – the bacteria and yeast will feast on them, potentially leading to gas and bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive problems.
Weight loss: If you are eating all the right foods, exercising and still not losing weight – have a look at your chewing habit. Research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less which ultimately leads to weight loss. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and if you are chewing well and eating slowly then you will receive the right signal to stop eating at the right time and prevent overeating.
Now that you understand how important is chewing to your overall health, I hope you will be more mindful during eating, paying attention to the state of the food when you swallow. I can tell you from my experience, this is one of the most difficult habit to change because it is so easy to fall back to old habits, especially when you are in a hurry.
Here are some helpful tips to incorporate this change:
- Dedicate enough time for your meals. When you sit down for meals make sure you have assigned atleast 20-30 minutes to finish your meal.
- Don’t eat on the go. Usually when we are distracted, we tend to chew less and quickly gobble up big chunks of food.
- Be prepared to be the last one at the table – when you are chewing well, you might end up to be the last one to finish the meal at a social setting. Don’t be embarrassed, just remember you are doing a favor to your body in the long run.
- Take deep breaths before the start of your meals because when you breathing allows your body to relax, focus on digestion and utilize the nutrients in your food.
- Take smaller bites of food as it’s easier to chew smaller morsels. It becomes easier with practice. You can initially start by counting how many times you chew. 30- 50 is an ideal number that works for most people.
- Keep your spoon down between bites as a reminder and signal for your body to chew well first before putting next bite in your mouth.
I hope you try this simple lifestyle tip to improve your overall health.