How much chewing are you doing?
You know, it's funny, sometimes it's the simplest thing that can make the biggest difference, especially when it comes to our health.
Things like drinking more water, moving your body, getting more sleep... They almost sound too easy. They're obvious, like a no-brainer. Yet they can still be hard to put into practice.
I put chewing in this category, too.
Again, it sounds so obvious. Of course it's important to chew our food!
But chewing is one of THE most under-rated things we can do to improve our health.
Chewing is the first step in the digestive process and aside from the obvious action of our teeth breaking each bite into bits, chewing activates enzymes in the mouth that start the real break down of food proteins into usable forms that our body can absorb and assimilate.
Digestion begins in the mouth and if what happens there gets skipped (ie. not chewing, eating too fast, etc.), it means even more work for your stomach and the rest of your digestive system.
That's why it's important to chew even your foods that are in liquid form like soups and smoothies, because just the motion of your jaw going up and down helps to release those critical enzymes that can save your body a lot of energy down the line.
How much chewing are we talking about here?
Most of us only chew our bites 3-4 times when we should really be chewing each bite 30+ times.
I know, that probably sounds impossible (and maybe disgusting), but the idea is your food should be liquid (like soup!) by the time it hits your stomach.
Think about it - your stomach doesn't have teeth and it only has so much of what it has to work with (i.e.. digestive enzymes, HCL, etc.) to get the job done. So we should do everything we can to help and not over burden it.
It's also helpful to give your digestive system a few hours in between eating to do it's thing, and hunger level plays a role too. The hungrier you are when you sit down to eat (also key), the more stomach acid you'll have to help breakdown your food.
Up for a Chewing Challenge?
Give it a try. The next time you sit down to eat, first just pay attention and see how many times you naturally chew a bite of food.
Then on your next bite, really focus and see how many times you can chew it before swallowing. Keep it up through your entire meal and when you're done, see what you notice.
Did you fill up sooner? Do you feel more satisfied? any difference in digestion or energy? These are some of the real benefits I hear from clients when they do this exercise.
It's something so small but it's one of those small things that make a big difference.
Try it and tell me...
I'd love to know - what did you notice at first? Was it difficult? Did it surprise you? How about any change in your digestion, energy, etc.?
Share your experience, findings, etc. with us in the comments!
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.