I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.
With Autumn now in full force, mother nature is inviting us to slow down and let go of the fast pace and outwardly energy of the summer. It is now time to move inside, both literally and figuratively. Chewing is one of those meditative opportunities we often miss during the day. Have you considered it as so? You don’t have to seat in a meditation cushion to meditate…you can try it during your day – while you eat for example. When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted—working, reading, talking and watching television—and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.
There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food.
- Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets.
- Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
- More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings.
- It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full.
- In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight.
- Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control.
- Chewing helps you disconnect for a few minutes from the external stimuli, creating an opportunity to check with yourself and how you feel today.
- When you chew your foods thoroughly you train your taste buds to notice the nuances of foods and develop a more sophisticated palate that will reject the taste of fake and artificial substances in processed foods. You will change that way you eat by learning the taste real food.
The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. I ask myself: Is this food in my mouth liquid? If not, I chew 10 more times. Try it and see how you feel.
I have a personal ongoing dance with this habit. I ate too fast in the past, and today when I get into the speed of the outside world I get back to that behavior. By working on chewing I learnt that I brought a hectic, nervous energy to eating. What is the energy that you bring to your food? You can learn a lot from this exercise, because the energy that you bring to food is the energy that you bring to everything! My habit was rooted on my upbringing coming from a big family where if you wanted seconds you had to finish first…and I always wanted a second serving! The energy I brought to eating came from an idea of lack. I also had a chronic avoidance pull, away from the discomfort that comes with being with myself, eating my food, accepting all of ME. The sooner you put yourself in that field of resistance, the fastest you will grow. This will allow you to challenge many other self denying habits where you escape from being YOU. Chewing invites you to be present- and that is meditation in action.
Try eating without the TV, computer, phone, newspaper or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing. This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email and demands from others. But as you create a new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every day—why not learn to savor and enjoy it?
Want to learn more about living a calm and craving free lifestyle? Join me online for the Bye-bye Sugar Blues Cleanse. Register here