Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chew on this

My friend Mary Ellen has perfected the art of eating slowly. I could eat 10 meals in the time it takes her to get through a salad. And I know she is on the right track.

I just read a study that found that people who chew their food well eat 12 percent less than those of us who gobble it down. Watching Mary Ellen, I can attest to this. Not only does it take her an hour to eat a plate of food, she leaves half of it untouched.

How did this happen? She didn't always eat slowly. And as the mother of seven kids (yup, seven), her meals were always being interrupted. It was a life change she made about a decade ago, and one she forced herself to think about each time she sat down to eat.

It's all about mindfulness, that new buzz word that has us thinking about everything we do. But when it comes to eating, it can do wonders for our waistlines.

The goal for every bite of food you take is to liquefy it. When I have succeeded in eating this way, I am amazed by how much more I have enjoyed my food. I really get a chance to taste each morsel, discovering hidden ingredients that don't come through with gobbling.

And there's one more bene: Chewing food aids digestion, since digestion begins in the mouth. The digestive enzymes in our saliva break down starches into simple sugars. That's why chewing a piece of bread actually makes that bread taste sweet. Studies show that chewing each bite for up to a minute will digest half of the starch before you swallow.

Saliva also contains fat-digesting enzymes, so if we chew well, by the time we swallow, the process of breaking down the fats  has already started. Chewing also gets stomach acid and pancreatic juices primed, so the digestive sequence happens smoothly.

Thanks to wikiHow, here are five steps for slowing down and chewing:

  1. Give yourself enough time. Do not eat if you are in a rush. Instead, allow yourself enough time so that you can take your time and chew thoroughly.
  2. Cut the food into small portions. It is important not to put too much in your mouth at once, as this makes it more difficult to chew the food thoroughly. The smaller the bites, the better. And the longer it will take you to eat your meal.
  3. Chew thoroughly. The exact number of chews vary with the food's texture and individual salivary glands, the goal is to have the food a complete liquid before you swallow. 
  4. Swallow slowly. No gulping, which can cause choking or damage to the esophagus.
  5. Wait until you are completely finished chewing before taking another bite. While you chew, put your fork down and concentrate on what is going on in your mouth. When there is nothing left in your mouth, pick up your fork.
I'm printing this out and leaving it by my plate.

1 comment:

  1. When I needed to lose 15 pounds for my first daughter's wedding this is exactly what I did. I made sure that dinner wasn't gobbled in less than 20 minutes and made sure I counted to at least 30 between bites. I stopped counting after a while because I "felt" when it was time to take another bite. The result? I ate less. I enjoyed the meal more. I lost 15 pounds.