Chewing – it’s important right?
Digestion starts in the mouth. The action of chewing is a mechanical process of grinding up the food, making it small so that digestive juices can work on it more effectively.
Saliva contains enzymes that start to digest carbohydrates and starches right there in your mouth. You may have noticed that starchy foods get sweet in your mouth as you’re chewing. The longer you chew, the better it turns out.
Taking the time to chew well also has the effect of slowing down how quickly you get through the meal. And that’s a good thing. We have a hormone (called leptin) that kicks in when food signals are received in the blood stream. That’s a process that takes time, so slowing down how fast you eat not only means you’re going to get more value from your food (because you digested it better), but it gives a chance for that satiety hormone to let your brain know that there’s nutrients in the blood stream before you’ve eaten too much.
Mindful eating starts with the lifting of your hand to your mouth as well as the chewing of the food itself. Pay close attention to each flavour in your mouth and notice how the food feels and smells as you eat it. If you usually take a mouthful and then immediately begin preparing another bite to eat while you’re chewing the first bite (a version of multi-tasking!), it’s hard to be mindful of the process of chewing. Put down your utensils between mouthfuls helps you to take time.
Your focus today is on being more mindful about the way you chew your food.