Are you a slow or a fast eater? If you’re like most people in our culture, you eat on the run, often wolfing down your food without much conscious thought as you move on to the next event in your life.
Here are five things you need to know about how taking time to thoroughly chew your food can benefit you.
1. It supports healthy digestion
When you really chew your food, which means you break it down into a soft mash, you release enzymes in your saliva that start the process of digestion. This helps you to get more of the nutrients out of your food, and helps the rest of your digestive system to do its job. When larger food particles enter the stomach, your stomach has to work harder at breaking them down before it can pass the food on to your small intestine. Chewing your food is the first step in supporting healthy digestion.
2. It helps you know when you’re full
If you eat slowly, you’ll know when you’re satiated better than if you eat quickly. It can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to be signaled that you’re full. If you’re a chronic over-eater, eating more slowly, and chewing your food well, will help you tune in to the clues that your stomach is full, and you’ll most likely eat less food, which means fewer calories at each meal.
3. It increases taste sensations
When you eat on the run, you’re often doing what my mother calls “inhaling your food.” You may be oblivious to the vast array of flavors in your meal. Eating more slowly, chewing each bite and bringing your awareness to what you’re doing, can enhance your experience of the unique flavors, spices and textures in your food. Eating can become an experience full of special taste sensations.
4. It may prevent unfriendly bacteria in your intestines
Some research suggests that not chewing your food well can enhance the growth of undesirable bugs in your digestive system. Larger particles of food, when not properly digested, may promote bacterial growth in the small intestine that can lead to gas, bloating and changes in regularity.
5. It supports healthy teeth
Chewing your food well directly impacts your dental health by not only making your teeth stronger through the process of chewing, but also by potentially helping to prevent tooth decay. When you spend time chewing your food, you release enzymes in your saliva that help wash away bacteria in your mouth.
So the next time you sit down to eat, slow down, enjoy your food–and chew it well!