“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.”
- William Gladstone
I often promote the many merits of mindfulness, slowing down and presence. This is true on so many levels. Have you ever heard the saying “The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.”? Well, one of my favorite activities, eating, is no exception! Here are a few amazing reasons why chewing more mindfully is good for you:
1. Taking the time to slowly chew your meals properly allows saliva to break down the simple sugars in the food, satisfying your sweet tooth, which in turn reduces sugar cravings.
2. Chewing for longer makes it easier to digest your food as many enzymes are released in the mouth which aid both digestion as well as assimilation/absorption of nutrients.
3. Chewing releases feel good chemicals in the brain known as endorphins which helps improve mood and relieves depression. (That’s why people often binge when they’re feeling down).
4. Chewing more mindfully is a great weight-loss tool as it allows you to become more aware of your body’s signals when you are full.
5. Chewing benefits the following functions in the body: circulation, immune system, energy levels, endurance, skin quality, and weight management.
So how can we make the most of this? Being more mindful at mealtimes includes enjoying the whole experience of eating. Before even taking the first bite, take the time to appreciate the blessing of having abundance and nourishment, notice the appearance, color, smell, and once you take the first bite, savor the texture, flavor and of course the pleasure of food.
The benefits of chewing well is so phenomenal that there are even stories of concentration camp survivors who against all odds survived with very little food just by chewing whatever little food they got up to 300 times per bite. For most of us 300 chews is an unrealistic goal, however, you can still reap the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.
Today many people eat while watching TV, or while working on their computer, iPhone, newspaper or in a noisy environment. What would it be like to just quietly pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing? This idea may sound strange at first, since we are used to multitasking and dealing with an endless bombardment of external demands. But as you nurture this new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating mindfully and with deep pleasure. You might even enjoy lighting a candle, bringing out some pretty table wear and creating an even more enjoyable experience for this delicious daily activity.
Meditation Exercise: Find a quiet place to sit down for your meal. Observe all your senses as you sit down with your meal. Mindfully chew each bite at least 20-30 times. Notice how this simple practice can help your digestion and impact your level of mindfulness for the rest of your day.