Today at lunch I was feeling stressed out. I started to attack my chicken salad, trying to gulp it down as fast as possible, as usual. Then I paused. Why was I rushing it? What was the hurry? I decided to eat the food mindfully, and chew properly.
Most people don’t eat slowly enough, especially during lunch and breakfast when they’re in a hurry. This means that they don’t chew their food very well, either.
What are some of the benefits of chewing your food well?
- Improved digestion. Since you’ve already started the digestive process in your mouth, your gut will have less work to do. Digestive fluids only work on the outside of the food, so they have difficulty breaking down large particles. Some studies have linked obesity to swallowing greater particles of food.
- You’ll get more bang for your buck nutrient wise. When the food is properly broken down, more of the nutrients contained get used by your body.
- Enjoying your food more. Just try it. You’ll notice all kinds of taste sensations you never have time for if you just gulp everything down.
- You’re likely to eat less. A study compared healthy volunteers, one group of which chewed their pizza 15 times, the other 40 times. The group that chewed more needed much less pizza to feel satiated. This might be due to hormones, which are released in a complicated process triggered by the chewing and saliva. The same group found that chewing nuts properly helped the fat in nuts be digested better, which might be part of the reason for not needing to eat as much to feel as full. Another hypothesized reason was the fact that the participants hated chewing for so long, so they decided to stop eating sooner.
- Chewing properly can even have beneficial effects for your brain. When you chew, the increased motion in your jaws increases blood flow to your brain. Chewing gum has been found to improve your concentration on tests and make you feel more relaxed. Isn’t it terrible? All these years school teachers have been asking the kids to spit out their gums in class even though chewing gum might actually have improved their test results!
It might be the placebo effect but I felt sort of more peaceful after taking the time to eat and chew properly. It wasn’t easy, though. In spite of the fact that I wasn’t in a rush to go anywhere, I kept eyeing the clock, thinking “gosh, this is taking ages.” I’ll do it again the next meal, though. It’ll be interesting to see if the simple act of chewing more can affect my eating habits.