Are you guilty of scarfing down your meals? Maybe you’re always the first one finished with your meal and realize everyone else is halfway through with theirs?
It’s important to properly chew your food because the digestive process starts in your mouth – it’s called mechanical digestion. It’s an essential first step so that food can be swallowed easily and properly digested in the stomach.
So, first, it’s the mouth where your salivary glands make saliva, a digestive juice, which moistens food so it moves more easily through your esophagus into your stomach. Saliva also has an enzyme that begins to break down starches in your food.
Then food travels to the esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine and large intestine.
Besides better digestion, the following benefits have been linked to properly chewing your food:
- Absorption of more nutrients and energy from your food
- Maintaining a healthy weight because you don’t overconsume calories before satiety kicks in.
- It’s good for your teeth. The bones holding your teeth get a better “workout” the more you chew. This helps to keep your choppers strong.
- Less excess bacteria lingering in your intestines.
- You enjoy and taste your food better.
So what happens when you don’t chew your food properly?
Larger particles enter the digestive tract causing digestive problems such as gas, bloating and constipation. And that’s no fun at a dinner party!
Here are some things to try if you are someone who wolfs your food down:
- Practice slow chewing – 32 times is the recommended number before you swallow.
- Sit down for your meal. Standing, walking and moving around is more of a “rushed” situation.
- Put your utensil down between bites.
- Be present. Don’t eat when you are on your phone (scrolling through social media, etc.), working at your desk or watching TV.
I’m guilty of inhaling my food, so I am challenging myself to really slow down. A big thing for me is not doing something else while eating. But, it’s actually been nice to just “be” when I eat.
Who is with me?!