The simple act of chewing for longer and eating slowly has many benefits, and all it takes is a few extra minutes to start gaining these amazing effects:
1. Lose weight. Studies have shown that you consume 88 fewer calories when eating your food slowly compared to eating it fast. In addition, eating slower increases the feeling of fullness for longer. This is due to a variety of hormones and feedback loops. Leptin, for example, is a hormone secreted by the adipocytes in direct proportion to high calorie intake. Leptin triggers the release of melanocortin from the hypothalamus, and melanocortin then acts to decreases the appetite, preventing overeating and giving you the feeling of fullness. This feedback loop takes about 20 minutes, so eating fast doesn’t give the body enough time for this process to work, and we continue to eat.
2. Improve digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth through the process of mastication (chewing), and by the digestive enzymes in the saliva. Chewing for longer breaks the food into smaller particles, while the saliva lubricates and soften the food particles making them easier to digest, and therefore more nutrients are taken up by the cells.
3. Less stress. Leptin has also been shown to interact with the neurotransmitter dopamine to regulate food intake and mood behaviours. Leptin raises dopamine levels and thus the rewarding effects and pleasure of eating the food. Not giving enough time for this response to occur by eating fast, means that more food is consumed to feel better.
4. Reduces the risk of diabetes. Chewing for longer (number of chews), or chewing slower, and thereby eating slower, has also been shown to prevent the occurrence of diabetes. This can be associated to a lower tendency to be overweight because of the feeling of fullness, making it less likely to eat unless you are actually hungry.
5. Enjoy good food. Taking your time and being mindful of what you eat will enable you to really enjoy and savour the complex flavours of foods. Processed foods that rely on tasting great when eaten quickly, will taste rather bland when you eat them slower. You will find yourself making better meal choices and enjoying the higher quality foods more by simply chewing for longer.
Taking your time to chew your food and eating slow is not easy when you are used to eating fast, but shouldn’t the benefits of adopting this simple act into your lifestyle make it worth a try?