Remember when your mom used to harp on you about chewing your food? You rolled your eyes. But it looks like Mom had a point.
Aside from avoiding the obvious risks of choking, science shows that there are many health benefits to chewing your food properly. From better digestion to a fuller yet flatter belly, the practice of chewing may just change your quality of life and the way you look at food. Here are four good reasons you should chew your food more.
Reason #1: You feel satisfied. Chewing your food helps you to feel full and satiated. And when you feel full and satisfied, you'll be more likely to eat only what you need, instead of what's at your grasp. The science backs this theory, as well. Studies have shown that taking smaller bites and taking time to chew can decrease your food intake by as much as one-third.
Reason #2: You get more nutrients and energy. Chewing helps to break down food into smaller particles that your body can more easily digest. Not coincidentally, this also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
Reason #3: Your body has time to process that it's full. Chewing your food properly also allows your brain to send the message to your gut in a timely manner that you are finished eating. You will be less likely to go for that extra bite because your brain has already had time to realize that your stomach is full.
Reason #4: You improve digestion. By chewing thoroughly, your saliva breaks down food more efficiently to emulsify it before it hits your stomach. When your food is broken down, your stomach has less work to do.
How To Chew Properly
Knowing the benefits of chewing more thoroughly is one thing, but how do you train yourself to make it a habit? Here are a few tips to practice:
Tip #1: Chew each bite of food at least 25 times. Believe it or not, we only chew each bite of food about five to 10 times on average. Some experts even recommend trying to squeeze in up to 80 bites, which may be a bit extreme.
Tip #2: Rest in between bites. Focus more on the flavor and satisfaction in each bite than thinking about the next bite. Live in the present.
Tip #3: Take a drink. Take a swig of water to slow yourself down between each bite.
Tip #4: Time yourself. While it may sound silly, space your meal out over a duration of time. Darya Rose, Ph.D., author of Foodist and founder of Summertomato.com, calls this "mindful eating." She recommends setting a timer or focusing on something concrete that forces you to pay attention to the food in your mouth. Too often, we just chew and swallow without a second thought.