This post is an installment in our 52 Health Hinges series. Remember, “Small hinges swing big doors.”
This may seem like a crazy question, but do you chew your food?
In our fast-paced culture, it’s easy to make the mistake of mindlessly inhaling a meal rather than taking the time to relax and enjoy our food. Is eating just “a means to an end” to get your body fed before running to the next commitment?
It’s easy to fall into that pattern, since chewing is such an unconscious reflex. Besides missing out on the pleasure of enjoying a delicious meal, did you know that gulping down your food is also detrimental to your health?
Yes, it’s true. Carbohydrate and fat digestion actually begin with the chewing process. Chewing sends signals to your stomach, intestines, and pancreas that the digestion process has begun, helping to maximize the absorption of nutrients from our food. Conversely, if food is not properly broken down, it can remain undigested and cause gas, bloating, bacteria overgrowth, and other digestive problems.
So how, exactly, does one properly chew their food? According to Lino Stanchich, author of Power Eating Program, You are How You Eat, try counting the chewing of each bite 30 to 50 times, until the food becomes liquid. This not only makes it easier on the stomach and small intestine to digest, but also creates less gas. To help give yourself the space for this extra chewing, try setting your fork down in between bites.
This is more difficult than it sounds. I’ve been working on it for a year, and I still catch myself gulping my food like a starving animal, especially if I’m under pressure to cram in a quick lunch.
Funny story…last fall, the entire Healthful Elements gang went out for dinner. It was the first time I’d been out in ages, as my littlest guy was around 9 weeks old. Not accustomed to being able to take my time while eating, I inhaled my delicious meal, sat my fork down, and looked around the table to find that everyone else at the table was at most halfway done. I laughed out loud at my ridiculousness!
How about you? Has your busy life “trained” you to inhale your food? Have you ever even thought about it?
This series is all about small changes; when I catch myself mindlessly inhaling my meal, I bring my thoughts back to what I’m doing. I haven’t come close to Stanchich’s suggestion of chewing each bite 30 to 50 times, I just try to chew more than feels natural. Remember, every small step (and bite) counts.
Good luck and happy chewing!