Slowing Down Eating for Better Digestion
In this article:
- Why eating your food quickly hampers digestion and leads to intestinal problems.
- The importance of chewing to the digestive process and what happens when you rush your meal.
- How to chew your food properly for better digestion and more energy.
Stop Eating So Fast
Most people with digestive issues tend to eat their meals very quickly. This is a problem because not chewing your food properly puts serious strain on the entire process of digestion.
When you put something in your mouth to eat, there is a whole series of steps that should happen in order for it to be broken down into usable nutrients. If any one of these steps is ineffective then all the rest will be less effective as well.
First you smell and taste your food, which stimulates saliva and tells your stomach to start secreting gastric juices. Next you start chewing up what’s in your mouth and this step is far more important than most of us realize.
Saliva is full of digestive enzymes, so chewing each bite you take not only breaks the food down into smaller pieces, it is also the begins digesting it.
Digestion is already a very demanding and energy intensive process for your body. If you’re swallowing large chunks of food, without proper chewing to mix them with the digestive enzymes in saliva, you’re making things very hard on your stomach.
Barely chewed meals, lacking in salivary enzymes, stand little chance of being broken down properly in the stomach. Instead, they are forced into the upper intestine only partially digested.
Your upper intestine can’t break down large portions of undigested food either, so it passes it on to the lower intestine. Here, finally, the food that you didn’t take the time to chew, will be broken down, or a better description would be fermented, by gas producing bacteria.
You can think of every mouthful of food that you don’t chew properly as a feast for these flatulence producing microbes. If you want to stop feeding them so well, then slow down and take your time eating.
Improved digestion is just one of the health benefits of chewing properly. Your body will also receive more nutrients as you’ll absorb more from the food you eat. In addition to this, you’ll also find yourself more satisfied with your meals when you take your time with them.
This is a very simple step to better health and effortless weight loss. All you have to do is eat your meals slowly and focus on really chewing up and tasting your food.
How to Chew Your Food for Better Digestion in 3 Steps
If you’d like to improve your chewing habits here are 3 important things to keep in mind. Consciously do each of these for a week and you’ll start making a habit of getting more from your food and less trouble from your digestive system.
1. Take Smaller Bites
It’s very difficult to chew properly when your mouth is full. Start by making your bites of food around half the size you’ve been used to.
As a bonus, you’ll get to enjoy your meals for longer and it will feel like you’ve eaten more. You’ll also be less likely to feel hungry soon after.
2. Chew Properly
Chewing should be done slowly and steadily, with food chewed up until is basically liquified and lost all of its texture.
How many times you need to do this depends on what you’re eating. A soft fruit won’t take long, but a bite of steak will obviously need to be chewed for much longer to liquify it. Make sure you swallow that mouthful before taking another bite too.
Don’t use beverages to ‘wash it down’ either. It’s saliva’s job to mix with the food and begin the digestive process. Most liquids will only interfere with that, so if you want a drink then have it before your meal (though a small cup of fennel or ginger tea are a beneficial exception).
3. Focus on Tasting and Enjoying Your Food
This sounds simple, but how often do we stuff down food, while working or watching TV, without even thinking about it?
Give yourself time to really taste each mouthful, notice the flavors and chew your food up properly before swallowing it. The only way to do this is by focussing on the process of eating and making a little extra time for your meals.
If you don’t, the chances are fatigue, intestinal gas and other digestive problems will take even more of your time later in the day. So slow down, take smaller bites, chew your food up thoroughly and start enjoying your meals again.
- Start today to focus on the process of eating. Smell your food first and really taste that first bite. Take your time chewing it up. It’s not a race so why not enjoy the meal you’ve decided to eat.
- Make a game of seeing just how long you can take with each meal this week. Eating should be an enjoyable process and time to relax and let go of stress. A few extra minutes of properly chewing up your food can make a real difference to the benefits you get from it, both in terms of nutrition and improved digestion.
Photo credit: SAM DA PLANT / Photo 2 credit: ???