How many of us rush our meals inhaling our food and not taking the time to thoroughly enjoy each bite? I think most of us our guilty of this bad habit, including myself. But, with the information I’m about to present, maybe next meal we’ll take the time to slow down and CHEW.
Chewing is the first step of digestion. During this process enzymes begin breaking down food as soon as it comes into contact with your saliva. The more you chew your food, the more time the enzymes have to start breaking down your food. The smaller the food becomes, the easier it is for our bodies to break down. The more broken down the food is in the stomach, the more nutrients and energy can be absorbed. When our food isn’t broken down properly, we often get gassy, bloated, diarrhea, constipation, cramping, abdominal pain or have digestive issues.
Next meal try to practice mindful eating. Try to enjoy the smell and the flavor of the food in your mouth. Savor each bite and aim to chew 20-30 times per bite. It can be hard to remember and achieve, but even if you remember midway through you meal give it a shot. In macrobiotics, an Asian diet focused on achieving health and vitality through the balancing of yin-and-yang with food, chewing is a huge point of emphasis and many practiced chewers can chew up to 100 times per bite!
Aside from making digestion easier, chewing can also help with weight loss. The more we slow down with our eating, the quicker our bodies realize we’re full. Downing our food can lead to weight gain, because we end up eating much more than our bodies actually need. If you still aren’t convinced, chewing also helps prevent tooth decay and plaque. Saliva, produced through chewing, clears bacteria and excess food particles keeping our mouths clean.