If you eat food then I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest there’s quite a good chance you chew your food, but do you chew your food correctly? Wait..what? There’s a right and a wrong way to chew your food? Apparently there is and hopefully, I’ll shed some light for you in this post.
Why Chewing Is Important
Chewing helps to activate the digestion system, alerting it that food is on the way and to produce stomach acids which help absorb nutrients needed by the body. When you start chewing, your body releases digestive enzymes which are found in saliva that break down the food and prepare it for nutrient absorption. Therefore chewing your food thoroughly helps achieve maximum absorption of vitamins and minerals you need.
Any larger food particles which reach the stomach, if they haven’t been chewed properly, make it difficult for the stomach to digest them and this can lead to an increase in bad bacteria in the intestines. So chewing food correctly helps the digestive system to run more efficiently.
How To Chew (yes really!)
To get in the habit of chewing food properly start by counting (in your head!) how many times you chew the food. Obviously, you don’t need to count out loud..you may get a few quizzical looks from your fellow diners! You’re aiming to chew a mouthful of food between 20-50 times until it becomes mostly liquid. This may seem far too much but once you get in the habit you’ll soon notice a difference in your digestion, especially if you’re prone to gas and/or bloating, as saliva makes food more alkaline so is less likely to create gas.
On a side note, smoothies also need to be chewed..I appreciate this sounds counter-intuitive as smoothies are already blended but as mentioned above chewing signals to the digestive system that food is on the way so your body will be ready to absorb all the needed nutrients.
Remember to breathe whilst chewing, this will relax you and help you enjoy the whole experience…even if you are just eating a sandwich! We are all in such a rush these days and particularly at meal times where we eat in a hurry and probably don’t even taste most of the food we eat. Not only is this crappy for our digestion but it’s also not great for us overall as we’re not relaxing, breathing properly whilst eating and taking proper care of ourselves.
In between mouthfuls make a conscious effort to put down your cutlery and not pick them up again until you have chewed and swallowed your mouthful of food. This does take some getting used to but I have started to make this a habit now and it does make me more aware if I’ve not chewed my food properly before I take another mouthful, whereas before, if my cutlery was in my hand, I’d already have the next forkful on the way to my mouth before finishing the food which was already in my mouth.
Phones, iPads, tablets, TV, magazines…these all distract us from our food and we end up just mindlessly eating whatever is in front of us – meaning we don’t chew properly but we also miss out on the experience of eating the food (flavours, textures). When we are distracted we are also don’t register if we are full and can often overeat.
I have been guilty of being distracted when eating and there are still occasions where I still am. However, I am more conscious now about distractions and do try to eat mindfully and it really does help with chewing. Try it and see what you notice!
I hope this post helps shed some light on the importance of chewing and gives you some tips to think about when you’re next eating.