How well do you chew?
Chewing your food seems like a really simple, straight-forward thing to do, especially as a strategy to improve digestion and help resolve issues like bloating and pain.
Sadly, there are many reasons why my clients often tell me they don’t chew their foods very well at all. It may be a learned habit, perhaps from watching your parents’ eating habits. It can be related to the pressures of today’s lifestyles and not taking enough time out to sit and eat mindfully.
How often do you not take a lunch break at work and eat in front of the computer?
Do you eat in front of the TV or while scrolling on your phone or while driving in the car?
Or do you not prioritise your own meals and pick at what the kids have left?
It’s the distractions that generally result in less focused chewing.
If you were to sit and solely focus on your food and eating, you may notice improved digestion.
Here’s why – the sight, smell and taste of food stimulates the production of saliva and digestive enzymes, both within the saliva and also further down in the digestive tract. Surely you can relate to salivating at the smell or sight of something delicious!?
When we’re involved in cooking our own food, we naturally have the opportunity to look at and smell it for a while before we eat it, giving our digestive system a chance to prepare for what it’s about to receive.
When we barely look at or smell what we’re eating and gulp it down without chewing well, we are putting more strain on our digestive system than ideal. The more chewing and digestion that goes on in our mouth, the easier it is for digestion further down in the gut.
Take small bites
The less that we put into our mouth also helps – have you noticed that when food hits the back of your mouth you have a swallow reflex that can be hard to fight? When you put less food in, you will likely be able to spend more time chewing this more thoroughly. Putting your cutlery down between bites will also prevent rushing you to chew and swallow faster.
Chew your food to improve your digestion
Check out these simple tips to help you chew your food to improve your digestion.
- Give yourself a minute or so to look at and smell pre-prepared food before you focus your attention while eating it – don’t just jump straight in. This initiates the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes.
- Get rid of the distractions – TV, computer screens, phone, books, newspaper etc. Allow yourself the time to just eat! You’re body deserves it. When you’re in the company of others, be more mindful of chewing. Talk between bites and avoid hurrying the food down to talk.
- Chew well and aim to mix as much saliva through your food that you can. Even taking a swallow of saliva between each bite (sounds gross I realise) can help to slow yourself down. Taking smaller bites will help you chew more thoroughly too.
What can you do to improve your digestion?
Amanda Moon xx