Scarfing food down leads to poor digestion, an inability to tell when you’re full, and overeating. Getting into the habit of chewing your food thoroughly is especially helpful as the holiday season approaches — we look forward to all the delicious fare, yet are worried about weight gain. Chewing allows you to enjoy and taste the food you’re eating and feel satisfied and satiated. Here are 5 good reasons to develop this heathy habit:
Digestion starts in the mouth. Your saliva contains enzymes that help break down the food and chewing it thoroughly allows the saliva to do its job. So overall, chewing thoroughly leads to better digestion.
Chewing thoroughly helps the food break down and benefit from nutrients. Proper chewing allows your body to more effectively absorb minerals, nutrients and vitamins. Some foods — raw veggies and nuts, for example — really benefit from entering the digestive tract properly chewed.
Chewing lets your stomach know that food is coming. Thorough chewing sends the signal from the brain to the stomach, telling it to produce the acids needed for digestion. The more you chew, the better your stomach does its share in digestion, and full circle, sends your your brain the message that you’re full. Giving more time to allow saliva to break down food also makes it easier to swallow and go down the esophagus.
Chewing thoroughly means that you’re eating more slowly. That gives you more time to enjoy your food. The faster you eat, the less you taste what you put in your mouth. This decreases the pleasure of eating and ironically, may lead to overeating. You may feel full, but you won’t feel satiated and satisfied in a psychological way. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes the signal that you’re full to reach the brain.
Chewing food thoroughly means that you’re fully present. Bottom line, really tasting and enjoying your food is an exercise in mindfulness and can prevent rather than exacerbate overeating. Especially when you’re celebrating, it’s harder to really focus on the food you’re putting in your mouth, but if you can tune in as often as you can, you won’t have as much of the “I ate too much” bloated feelings and regrets.