In today’s fast-paced world, we barely have enough time to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal without being rushed, even less time to consider how efficient we are eating. When was the last time you ate and paid attention to how you chew? Did you even know you should be paying attention?
Didn’t think so..!
The Perfect Crunch
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Chewing serves an important biological and functional purpose, and when we eat rapidly and don’t stop to savor each bite, we deprive ourselves of some really important benefits such as nutrient absorption efficiency and desirable eating habits.
Years ago (believe it or not), there was a scientific method performed on potato chips designed to find the perfect ‘crunch’ (now you know why you can never just have one!). This is how the concept of companies using words like ‘crunchy’, ‘extra crunchy’, or ‘stays crunchy even in milk’ to describe their products.
From a physiological perspective, ‘crunching’ and ‘chewing’ are biological outlets we use for anger and aggression. When we don’t fully chew our food, we withhold these emotions and they can manifest as clenched jaws, TMJ, or even a postural change to our face that permanently resembles a scowl.
Chewing can relieve aggressiveness as well as anger, and when we skip chewing, we encourage unwanted tension to reside within ourselves.
Just as chewing is an important biological function to relieve tension, it is also works in conjunction with ‘tasting’ to encourage hunger satisfaction. When we rush through meals and don’t take time to chew and taste our food, our body doesn’t register satiety like it is supposed to.
This can lead to false communication within the body that we aren’t yet full, and we can develop negative habits such as consistent overeating, phantom hunger and even weight gain.
What a mouthful!
Digestion is a process and chewing is the first step to initiate it. The chemical digestion of starches begins with amylase, an enzyme that works with saliva in the mouth to break-down carbohydrate molecules. As food is broken down through chewing into smaller and smaller pieces, the number of these molecules exposed to the natural acids in the stomach is maximized. When we don’t chew properly, it compromises the efficiency of this process and can cause a host of undesired side-effects.
Without proper food breakdown during the first step of digestion, the stomach has to work on over-drive to attempt to digest the larger pieces of food. Because of the larger food particle sizes, the stomach’s digestive juices only get to target and impact the surface of the food pieces. This then causes the stomach to over-secrete its own acids which ends up resulting in irritation of the stomach’s lining, and is why many fast eaters experience acid indigestion issues.
The act of chewing serves as a pace-setter that the entire body adapts during the digestive process. If we chew rapidly and food isn’t broken down properly, it promotes unsettling and uncomfortable sensations within the digestive system. However, if we take the initiative to chew slowly and deliberately, the digestive process is more relaxed – which promotes a healthier and stronger metabolism and digestive system.
Respect the chew
Chewing serves as a crucial biological function in the body. Understanding the ‘why’ behind mindful eating promotes the ‘how’. It can be difficult in our on-the-go lives to be intentional about slowing down.
Anxiety and stress are at an all-time high within our society and although the fast-paced nature of our lives may not slow down today or tomorrow – our chewing can!
Relieve some of the tension of everyday life by slowing down and enjoying your food. Taste it. Experience it. Savour it. Eating is meant to be enjoyed – not something to accomplish in record-breaking time.
Let your stress, anger and aggression melt away with each bite and watch your health and metabolism improve with every bite!
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Emma Pietrzak