Even the best diet and exercise plan goes out the window if we tune out our body’s signals for hunger and satiety. Thorough chewing plays a key role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and learning when enough is enough.
Benefits of chewing
- It takes the brain about 20 minutes to register fullness after eating a meal. Chewing thoroughly slows eating down and allows the brain more time to realize you’ve had enough to eat.
- Digestion begins in the mouth with the salivary enzyme amylase. Chewing activates amylase and signals our other enzymes to get ready.
- Chewing breaks down food into smaller pieces, increasing efficiency of our digestive enzymes by creating more surface area on food particles for enzymes to attach.
- Some health professionals think thorough chewing reduces the risk of developing food intolerance. Mixing saliva and enzymes in the mouth with food makes it more recognizable. It also breaks down large protein molecules into smaller pieces that might otherwise pass through our intestinal barrier and into our bloodstream whole.
- Provides an opportunity for awareness. Eating can be hypnotic. People tend to tune out and disconnect from their mind-body connection when they eat. Paying attention to chewing food thoroughly brings attention to the process of nourishing your body.
5 mindful eating DO’s
- Take small bites.
- Don’t pick up another bite of food until you have chewed and swallowed your last bite.
- Chew your food until it’s liquid.
- Make food choices you would brag to your nutritionist about.
- Learn that food is for fueling, not a healthy means of changing your mood. Find a healthy substitute besides food to alter your mood (i.e. exercising, journaling, listening to music, going to the theater, reading).
Chewing is a great way to encourage permanent weight loss. The better you get at slowing down and listening to your body while you eat, the more satisfied you’ll be with reasonable portions and the better you will get at registering fullness.