You’ve probably heard it said that chewing is the first stage of digestion. That’s true.  But, just knowing this doesn’t always translate into slow, intentional chewing.  As part of my START SOMEWHERE RESET, I want to eat more slowly and enjoy my food more.  Learning the benefits of chewing slowly has helped me accomplish that.

Chewing is basically an unconscious reflex for most of us. As soon as my mouth detects food, it’s chew, chew, chew and down the hatch!  For over three decades of “fixing teeth”, I’ve been committed to helping people have stronger teeth to be able to eat good food and enjoy life more.  Here are five reasons that have convinced me to take more time with each bite:

  1. Smaller particles of food are more easily digested and absorbed by the body.  This enhances nutrient absorption and may decrease indigestion.
  2. Chewing gives your teeth and jaws a “workout,” helping to keep them strong.  This stimulates saliva to help wash away the food particles from around the teeth.
  3. When you take longer to chew, your food gets exposed to more saliva.  This lubricates the food, making it go more easily down the esophagus, which decreases the chance of choking.  And, it exposes the particles to beneficial compounds in the mouth like lingual lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fats.
  4. Longer chewing helps maintain a healthy weight.  It takes your stomach at least 20 minutes to hear from your brain and register “full!”  If you want to decrease calorie consumption without feeling deprived, chew each bite 25-30 times.  It is believed that chewing slowly decreases calorie count by about 12 percent.
  5. Slowing down helps savor each bite and increases satisfaction.  My mom recently prepared a big family brunch with lots of homemade delicacies.  By chewing slowly, I made the meal last longer and didn’t leave feeling like a beached whale.  

Nicknamed “The Great Masticator”, Horace Fletcher was an American health food enthusiast who lived from 1849-1919.  Although not a doctor or dietician, he advocated chewing each bite 100 times until it became liquified.  This became known as the doctrine of  “Fletcherism” and was believed to prevent overeating, improve systemic and dental health, and consequently, save money.  People were encouraged to avoid dining when they were angry, worried, or tired and to not eat unless they were “good and hungry.”  They were told to eat any food that they wanted to as long as “the food swallowed itself”.  Doesn’t that just make you smile????  I am really laughing out loud as I type this.  

Interestingly, Horace became a millionaire as an art dealer, world traveler,  and lecturer on Fletcherism.  John D. Rockefeller and Henry James were among those who gave his claims a try.  Although he weighed 300 pounds, Fletcher participated in a series of experiments comparing his strength and endurance to college athletes.  A whopping 58 years old, he impressed them with his level of fitness at this ripe  “old age.”  He said it was all because of his habit of Fletcherizing his food.

While I don’t advocate that much chewing, I do want to work my way to 25-30 chews per bite!  Chewing slowly is likely a key to LIVING YOUNGER.  This is a START SOMEWHERE that we can all sink our teeth into!  Thanks for joining me!

Chewing Slowly

Chewing Slowly