“Chew your food, baby”, I instructed my toddler.
When I introduced solids to my baby, I made sure that she is chewing the food. However, at times, she used to gulp down the food without chewing. Such days would be troublesome for me as she used to puke the swallowed food. Chewing food is quite important.
We have been blessed with as many as 32 teeth. I used the word, ‘as many as’ because not many have the advantage of keeping those 32 intact. I got 4 of my teeth removed, so they didn’t have to fight for space and get crooked in anger. Jokes apart, in the bid to teach my toddler how to chew food properly, I forgot how to chew it myself. This is because life had become so busy that I had less of time on hand. Eventually, I had to face many problems. But, I have promised myself that now onward I will make sure that I am chewing the food properly – to inspire my tot to do the same.
This seems to be an interesting question. Why chew when we can swallow it? Why chew when our stomach is capable to digest it? The answer is that chewing has several health benefits. In fact, if you do not chew food properly, you might end up suffering from health problems. You might end up with excess of stomach acid or even digestion related ailments or other difficulties. On the other hand, there are so many benefits of chewing food properly, ranging from nutrient absorption to weight loss.
How Many Times Should You Chew?
There is no fixed number on the number of times one should chew. It all depends on the type of food you are eating. However, experts maintain that softer foods should be chewed for around five to ten times while the solid ones should at least be chewed for thirty times. The more you chew, the better it is for your health.
How to Get into the Habit of Chewing?
- Do not eat in a distracted environment while eating meals. This means that there should be no television, email checking or talking to someone during meals.
- Sit down properly while eating.
- Before you begin eating, remind yourself that you need to chew the food properly.
- Take smaller bites so that it is easy to chew. If your meal has bigger chunks, try to cut them down before you sit for your meal.
- Make a conscious effort of chewing the food properly.
It might seem difficult in the beginning. However, once you get into the groove, it is much easier to eat food this way. Plus, you will not suffer from problems related to digestion if you follow these steps.
Beverages During Meals
Do not drink beverages or water until and unless you have chewed the food properly. However, it is advised to avoid drinking any kind of beverages while eating. This is because presence of more than adequate amount of liquid in the stomach reduces the speed of digestion. Have you seen a semi-automatic machine working? If you fill up the tank with more than adequate water, the process of cleaning is slowed down. Even the clothes are not cleaned properly if the water is high. Get into a habit of drinking water twenty to thirty minutes prior to having a heavy meal. Make sure that you drink water after thirty minutes post a heavy meal.
Aids Weight Loss
At times, we are not able to ascertain the exact reason for weight gain. And in spite of exercising, the weighing scale does not buzz from the previous number. One of the reasons for this could be improper chewing of food or lack of it completely. Chewing food in the right manner helps shed extra pounds. Many people, especially the employed ones, have the habit of eating for specified number of minutes. At times, they utilize the spare time that they have in eating more.
For instance, Raven takes 10 minutes to finish off the lunch. However, when he has spare 5 minutes before the lunch break ends, he uses it to munch a nutri bar. He does not realize whether he is hungry or not. He just thinks that if the food has finished off in just 5 minutes, I must be hungry as I usually take 10 minutes. I should munch something to avoid getting hungry in the middle of the working hours. Does this happen to you? When you chew food properly, smaller morsels travel to the stomach. In this situation, you eat the same amount of nutrition but in smaller bites. This prevents stretching of tummy beyond a certain limit. If you do not chew properly, your tummy gradually stretches and you eat more to fill the more space created. This means that if you chew more, you can prevent chances of gaining unnecessary weight.
Controls Portion Size
Your brain is not able to signal immediately that your stomach is full while you eat meals. It takes some time, as many as twenty minutes, for your brain to make you realize that you are not hungry anymore. At times, you utilize this time to eat more food. If you eat slowly, then you have spare time to realize that you are finally full and do not want more. This helps you feeling full and therefore, avoids over stuffing your tummy. This even prevents consuming unrequired calories.
Helps in Digestion
Have you noticed that when you dice fruits or vegetables in smaller chunks, then it is easier to juice them and in lesser time? The same happens with our body. If we chew the food properly, then our system does not need to undergo the time-consuming process of breaking it down and digesting it. This even helps save energy, which can be used in accomplishing other tasks.
Experts maintain that when the food is not chewed properly, it can result in heartburn or acidity. Further, it prevents problems related to digestion. Even I observed that when I eat food in a hurry, I feel heavy and bloated. People who do not chew food properly often complain of acid reflux. Not chewing food also results in a bad mood. This is because non-chewed food means incomplete digestion process and this result in gastric issues and reportedly, a bad mood.
Boosts Nutrient Absorption
When the food is not broken completely, the task of nutrient absorption slows down. If you do not chew food properly, the stomach first breaks it down and then extracts required nutrition. While completing the task of breaking the food, your stomach is not able to accomplish the task of nutrient absorption in a better way. Food that goes to your body in bigger chunks is not absorbed by the blood stream, but rather goes to the system directly. In this way, your body is not able to get as many nutrients as it should have acquired. Smaller chunks of food and properly chewed food are easier for your body as well. It can absorb all the nutrients present in the food in the best manner possible. The more you chew your food, the better are the chances of nutrient absorption by your body.
Promotes Teeth Exercise
My mother advises me to churn some raw salt in the mixer grinder once in a while in order to sharpen the blades. This means that tougher the task, the better it is for the machine. In the same manner, our teeth are the machines. They need some tough exercises on a daily basis to maintain their sharpness. By chewing the food, your teeth get adequate amount of exercise. Continual exercise even prevents building up of plaque on teeth as the bacteria are removed regularly. Ultimately, you can stay away from tooth decay and other ailments.
Contact with Saliva
Did you know that the food you eat needs to get sufficient amount of saliva to make its journey in the body easier? This is because saliva present in your mouth has several digestive enzymes present in it. When you chew your food, these enzymes come in contact with your saliva. This contact helps in better digestion. If you do not chew your food properly, the food does not get required time with saliva. Such food when passes through the stomach and intestines, it is harder to digest by the organs. The enzymes help in nutrient absorption, digestion and even breaking down the fats present in the food along with other assistance.
And in the End
The best benefit of chewing the food is that you get to enjoy it in the way it should be. If possible, close your eyes while eating a morsel. When all the other senses are put to rest, the sense of taste is heightened. If you might have noticed that when you eat something tasty, your eyes are closed automatically. This is because you want to enjoy it, bite by bite. If you do this regularly, you will enjoy the food all the more. Food that is enjoyed also leads to better health. Happy chewing folks!