Something to chew on
Our hectic lives lead us to rush through our day and our meals. We barely acknowledge what we eat, and we don’t always take the time to truly appreciate our food. We have our meals distracted while either working, reading, walking, talking or watching television, and we pay little attention to chewing our food, and tend to swallow our food practically whole. Improved health is not just about what we eat, but rather how we eat it. The act of chewing is effective and it directly affects our overall health. Did you know that digestion begins in the mouth? It‘s true. As we eat, food comes into contact with our teeth which, along with the digestive enzymes in our saliva, start breaking down the food into smaller particles and prepares it for further digestion. Proper digestion can help eliminate many issues such as bloating, flatulence and constipation. The better the food is chewed, the better the food gets digested. (1) Chewing food properly increases its surface area which reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food. It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we chew well, we spend more time chewing and savoring each bite, and we become more attuned to notice when we are satisfied. It also prolongs the meal, allowing our body time to know when it is full. (2) To get into the habit of chewing foods thoroughly, start counting the chews in each bite. How much you chew really depends on the food and its consistency. A good rule of thumb is to chew long enough so that you cannot tell the texture of the food you consumed and it becomes liquid. A good way to do this is to put your utensils down between bites to help you better concentrate on chewing. Taking the time to chew will help you to enjoy the whole spectrum of tastes and aromas that make up the meal. (3) As you become mindful of your chewing, notice how it feels, how it changes the pace of your meal, your satisfaction, and your overall experience.To make lasting healthy changes, we need to train our mind. It’s something I’ve been working on for a while and I’m constantly reminding myself to focus on. Have patience, this is not a quick fix. It is a process of training your mind and learning to navigate the challenges that come with forming a new habit. We have many opportunities to work on this since we eat several times a day, so we have all the time in the world to practice, practice, practice... Let’s start NOW and savor every bite!