Updated: Jun 27, 2019
I know what you are thinking... "I chew my food. No need to read this post. Bye, Felicia" But, wait! There is so much you need to know about chewing. Read on.
The way we chew our food has a bigger impact on our health than we may think. Have you ever had digestive issues? Run into IBS, feelings of bloat after a meal, or even think you have a sensitivity to a certain food? How about feelings of exhaustion after a meal or consistently throughout the day?
Before you start taking over the counter meds or adding another cup of coffee to your routine, try chewing each bite of food until it is liquid. It may sound ridiculously unrelated to your persistent issue, but trust me, it is all related.
Sitting down to a meal, paying attention to it, and chewing your food about 30 times per bite can drastically improve your health. Here are just three ways that focusing on chewing and mindful eating can help you out.
Optimal Digestive Function
Everyday an estimated 70,000,000 (yeah, that's 70 million) people suffer from digestive issues. They commonly start taking a daily medication to "help". Unfortunately they just minimize the symptoms and don't solve the problem. Instead, I would love it if they just tried chewing their food more thoroughly.
Digestion is everything in the field of health. Instead of the saying, "You are what you eat!", we health ifficianahtoes often hear/use, " You are what you digest." Digestion starts in the mouth. Our mouth produces digestive enzymes- enzymes that help breakdown our food so that our body has an easier time digesting it. The longer our food hangs out in our mouth, the more digestive enzyme juices latch onto our food, making digestion easier. If we chew our food until it is liquid, we know that it has a good bunch of digestive enzymes and is ready to pass through our body efficiently.
Since close to 70% of our energy is spent on digesting our food, making the process of digestion easier gives us more energy to do other things. Say goodbye to that after lunch energy dip! You also won't have the feelings of bloat, and since your digestion is running more smoothly, your poops will become easier and more regular. Easy, regular poops are like the gold standard of health. I said it.
Improved Nutrient Absorption
Eating a big kale salad with healthy fats, lot's of fiber rich produce, topped with superfoods, and a splash of gut-friendly bacteria is awesome. What isn't awesome is eating that big plate of food and not reaping the nutritional benefits of the foods. Our food is only really good for us if we can absorb the nutrients it contains. Chewing well helps you get those nutrients.
The nutrients are packed inside the food. If you swallow a big old piece of kale, as the kale works it's way down the digestive tract, your body is trying it's best to break it down so that it can get nutrients out of it to send to different parts of your body. It will work at it, but the more it works, the more energy it has to exert, leaving your energy levels drained. Eventually your body says f-it, and lets that chunk of kale continue on down the tract, many nutrients still intact, until it comes out the other end. What a waste.
Instead, use your teeth to really grind down and chew that piece of kale until it is liquified. The nutrients are ripe for the picking and your body will quickly grab them, sending them off to improve your health. Very little nutrients go unused and you have more energy.
Decreased Portion Sizes
Have you ever grabbed something to eat on the go and then hoovered it so fast you hardly remember eating it or what it tasted like? My old teacher self would be nodding vigorously at this question with the 10 minute lunch during which I used to try to eat.
It takes about 20 minutes for our belly to send a signal to our brain letting it know it's full. If your meal is less than 20 minutes, chances are high that you won't feel full and will reach for something else to eat. Chewing your food 30 times at each bite helps slow down eating. (Seriously, when you first try it out, meals can seem really long.) When we slow down our eating, we get full faster, we feel satiated, and we don't go for that second helping or sweet snack after. This is a built in weight management tool. What diet is as easy as chewing your food well? We also remember eating the food, relish it's taste and texture, and just feel more zen when we slow down.
So, optimal digestion, improved nutrient absorption, and portion control can all be benefits of chewing your food well (with a nice side affect of improved energy levels and lots of zen). Have I convinced you to slow down and chew your food yet? Prove it!
This week I am doing a Chew Challenge and would LOVE for you to join! Here are the details:
Sit down to a meal and take a picture of it.
Chew each bite of the meal 30 times.
Between now and Sunday, June 30th, post the picture on Instagram or Facebook (either on feed or in the story) and tag @northwesthealthcoaching. If you aren't on either of those platforms, just email or text me the pic.
Your name will be entered into a drawing. I will draw one name on Monday, July 1st and send the winner a special new kitchen utensil!
You can enter as many times as you would like, just use a new picture each time, post and tag! Your name will be entered as many times as you post.
Really, all just for chewing your food!
Good luck and happy chewing!