The Importance of Chewing

 In Healthy Living

BasketballRecently, I had my 12 year-old nephew visit me for the weekend. There is an indoor basketball court in my building, which is a huge sell for visits – especially during the winter. He spent hours playing, so much so that I had to remind (and force) him to fuel his body.

I reluctantly persuaded him to come upstairs to have a big bowl of pasta. By the time I went to my bedroom and returned to the kitchen, which took less than 3 minutes, his plate was completely licked clean!

Before questioning him, I checked the garbage expecting to find a portion thrown out, but there was nothing there. I gave him a perplexed look and asked, “Where’s your food?”

His response, while holding the basketball in his hands, “I ate it.”

Thinking about how he inhaled it, oppose to properly chewing and swallowing it, I asked, “Do you know the importance of slowly eating your food oppose to chopping and swallowing?” Yes, I was ready to explain to a 12 year-old tween boy about the importance of chewing, while he holds a basketball in one hand and door handle in the other, with one foot inside the door and the other outside. Clearly letting me know that he’d rather play basketball oppose to listening to another healthy pep talk from his amazing aunt, I decided to instead save this lecture for you!

As busy adults, we’re just as guilty as my nephew. How many of us actually eat properly: chewing, savouring and enjoying each meal? Myself included, there are days when the chop-and-swallow technique seems like the only option, because I’m running to a meeting with a client, or late for an appointment.

Here is more information about the mechanics of chewing, and why we should eat slower and practice what we preach:

When we chew, we are breaking down the food that is then mixed with saliva. This saliva contains enzymes that help break down large food particles into small particles, making it more easily digestible. This also makes it easier for your intestines to absorb nutrients and energy from the food particles as they pass through, while preventing improperly digested food from entering your blood and causing a wide range of adverse effects to your health.

Foods that are swallowed without being properly chewed can lead to digestive problems, along with leave you feeling gassy and bloated. When you swallow your food without properly chewing it, you tend to gulp a lot of air, which is swallowed with your food and will also leave you feeling bloated or gassy.

Notice that when you sit around a table, eat slowly and converse with others – you’re that much more full. This isn’t just from the stimulating conversation; it was because you simply took the time to enjoy (and chew) your meal. When you take the slow and steady route, it gives your appetite-hormones time to tell your brain that you are getting full. This means: you’re also eating less!

The next time you’re tempted to chop-and-swallow your food, think about these tips about why we should slowly eat and savor our food.

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