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The Art of Mindful Chewing: Unlocking the Secret to Healthier Eating



In essence, mindful chewing is more than just a dietary practice;

it's a gateway to a healthier, more mindful way of living.

Let's reclaim this lost art and rediscover the joy of eating—one chew at a time.


In March 2010 an article I wrote on 'chewing' was published by a woman's magazine and this weekend, 14 years on, Dr Michael Mosley has written about chewing with the provocative title of:


"WHY EATING AT A SNAIL'S PACE WORKS LIKE OZEMPIC"


So I thought I'd share an updated version of my original article. It will inspire me to slow down to a snail's pace and may motivate you to do the same. Enjoy.


I once watched a TV series about favourite diets through the ages [Ch4  ‘The diets that time forgot’], the one that came out on top was the ‘chew chew’ diet. Favoured by the Edwardians, one could eat what one liked but one had to chew each mouthful 32 times – try it, it is really difficult.


In our frantic modern lives, meals are often devoured in haste, scarcely tasted or appreciated. The stressors of daily life can turn eating into a mindless chore, devoid of pleasure and connection. But what if I told you that something as simple as mindful chewing could transform your relationship with food and, in turn, your health?


Like animals, some of us can, at times, eat as if the food will be stolen from our plate, under our very noses, at any moment.  With modern day stress, many of us eat on the hoof, not even really tasting or enjoying the food we stuff in our mouths.  We are really missing out on one of life’s pleasures and possibly damaging our health in the process.


Hmmm, can something so simple be so effective?  The answer is a resounding YES and thrice yes.

 

This month try chewing every mouthful  15-20 times [until it is an unrecognisable pulp in your mouth] putting down your knife and fork in between modest mouthfuls.

 

No more mindless munching, from now on, take your time and savour every single morsel with true appreciation, give the food your full attention, bring in all your senses: look at it, smell it, taste it, roll it around in your mouth - maximise that sensual appreciation. Eating in this way, taking your time, means you will reach your 'satiety' point after less food is eaten. If you are eating fast you will consume a larger quantity in the time it takes for your brain to 'register you've had enough. This may contribute to the fact that slow eaters were 42% less likely to be obese or have 'blood sugar spikes'.

 

Don’t get distracted with the news on the TV, family arguments, business discussions or anything stressful or negative while you are eating.  Make your meal a sacred ritual, a meditation in pleasure to be enjoyed to the full. Distraction can mean you eat more.

 

Physiologically chewing foods makes it easier on the digestion, it is nothing short of digestive magic. It grinds food into smaller bits, mixing it with enzymes released in the saliva, along with others produced in the mouth and these can digest as much as 30-40% of starches BEFORE the food hits the stomach thus putting far less stress on the lower digestive tract. Gulping food can encourage swallowing a lot of air which in turn can cause bloating.

 

Chewing is  a green neon ‘go’ light to the rest of the gastrointestinal tract and it also allows the body and brain to react to the food and a feeling of satiety to kick in before you have overeaten. It will be no hardship to eat less and without any real effort you will begin to lose weight .


Mosley reminds us that there is mounting evidence that eating fast increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

 

Finally, from an ‘energetic’ point of view the enjoyment involved in eating your food in this way strengthens certain energy flows that are involved in metabolising foods. You will process each mouthful far more efficiently which means it is not hanging around doing any damage or boring its way straight through to your hips!


In summary the hidden benefits include:


1. Enhanced Digestion

Chewing food thoroughly kickstarts the digestive process. As we chew, our salivary glands secrete enzymes that begin to break down carbohydrates, initiating the process of digestion even before food reaches the stomach. The mechanical action of chewing also breaks food down into smaller particles, making it easier for the stomach and intestines to further digest and absorb nutrients. By taking the time to chew each bite mindfully, we can alleviate digestive discomforts such as bloating and indigestion.


2. Weight Management

Mindful chewing can be a powerful tool for weight management. Research suggests that chewing food slowly and thoroughly can lead to reduced calorie intake, as it gives the brain more time to register feelings of fullness. By slowing down the eating process, we are more likely to recognize when we’re satisfied, preventing overeating and promoting healthy portion control. This simple practice encourages a more mindful approach to eating, fostering a deeper connection with our body’s hunger and satiety cues.


3. Improved Nutrient Absorption

The nutrients in food are only beneficial to our bodies if they are properly absorbed during digestion. Chewing food thoroughly breaks it down into smaller particles, increasing the surface area for enzymatic action in the digestive tract. This enhanced breakdown facilitates optimal nutrient absorption, ensuring that we derive the maximum benefit from the foods we consume. By chewing our food mindfully, we can optimize nutrient absorption and support overall health and vitality.

4. Better Oral Health

Chewing isn’t just beneficial for digestion; it also plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health. The act of chewing stimulates saliva production, which helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums. Additionally, thorough chewing promotes better mastication, reducing the risk of dental issues such as cavities and gum disease. By taking the time to chew our food properly, we can promote a healthy mouth and a radiant smile.

5. Mind-Body Connection

In our fast-paced world, mealtimes are often rushed and relegated to the side lines of our busy schedules. However, embracing mindful chewing can transform eating into a meditative practice that nourishes both body and soul.

By focusing our attention on the act of chewing, we cultivate a deeper awareness of the sensory experience of eating—the texture, flavour, and aroma of each bite.

This mindful approach to eating fosters a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for the nourishment that food provides, fostering a more harmonious relationship with what we eat.


In conclusion, the simple act of chewing our food thoroughly holds myriad benefits for our health and well-being. So, the next time you sit down for a meal, take a moment to savour each bite, slowly, deliberately, make it a truly sensual experience and let the art of chewing work its magic. Your body will thank you for it.



 


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