Too often a busy schedule has people blasting through mealtime, chewing their food as fast as possible in a rush to check off another item on the to-do list. Not only is eating super quickly unsafe (you don’t want to choke while watching an Instagram reel), but there’s evidence to suggest that chewing slowly and mindfully is incredibly beneficial—not just for your health, but as part of a foundation for a more mindful life.
Benefits of Chewing Food Slowly
People often think of weight loss in terms of what food is being eaten, rather than how the food is being eaten. But as it turns out, chewing slowly can contribute to increased fullness hormones, decreased calorie intake and associated weight loss.
Here are some other benefits of chewing slowly:
- Improved digestion
- Enjoyment of food
- Mental calmness
- Better nutrient absorption
Health Coach Institute Co-Founder Carey Peters on Chewing Slowly
HCI co-founder Carey Peters spoke with the Chicago Tribune about the benefits of chewing slowly. Here are some nuggets of knowledge from the 2016 publication:
“When I first learned about this [chewing food slowly], I thought it was completely ridiculous,” she [Peters] said.
But she explained that there’s a science behind eating slowly.
When you eat too quickly, your brain doesn’t have enough time to take in the pleasure or fully acknowledge feeling satisfied, she said.
So if you’re chomping down lunch in five minutes, you’re not realizing if you’re full in the meantime — and you’re also not giving your brain a chance to enjoy the sensation.
“Your body is eating the meal; the brain also needs to eat the meal,” she said. “If you eat it super fast, your brain is not satisfied by that experience.”
For example, think about Thanksgiving dinner, she said.
“You smell the turkey, and your mouth starts to water, your stomach starts to growl,” she said. “That’s your body preparing to digest the meal.”
She said enzymes in saliva kick off the digestive process.
Set a timer for 20 minutes, she suggests, and try to make your lunch match that.
When she first tried, she ate her lunch in three minutes. But slowly, she’s been able to make a meal last longer and reap the benefits.
“I just take my time,” she said.
Check out the full Chicago Tribune article here.
6 Ways to Eat More Mindfully
Chewing slowly allows you to eat meals in a more calm, mindful way. Mindful eating is a major component in an overall mindful life, and has been associated with positive personality traits like patience, trust, nonjudgement and acceptance.
Besides slowing down your swallow, here are some other ways to make mealtime last longer.
1. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat. This will cause you to gorge on food you don’t even like. Try meal prepping or carrying snacks with you for those extra long days.
2. Put down your cell phone! Mindless scrolling leads to mindless eating. Let the food be the star of your meal, not your favorite TikToker.
3. Sip water during the meal. This will allow for natural breaks in chewing and swallowing, plus it helps you digest the food better. Make sure not to chug the water, though, as you don’t want to get a tummy ache.
4. Set a timer. As suggested above by HCI co-founder Carey Peters, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how long you can make your meal last.
5. Meditate on your food. No, don’t literally sit cross-legged on your plate and meditate, but take a moment before each meal to express gratitude for what you’re about to eat. Pause between bites for a few deep, calming breaths.
6. Put your silverware down in between bites. This will force you to focus on the task at hand (chewing) rather than immediately scooping up your next nibble.
Become a Health & Life Coach
Are you interested in learning more about living mindfully? Join HCI’s Become a Health & Life Coach program to learn about health, wellness, diet and nutrition. For those looking to make a career shift, you can begin coaching in as little as six months. If you’re already a coach and want to advance your skills, check out HCI’s Coach Mastery program. Feel free to get in touch with one of our clarity coaches directly by calling 1-800-303-2399.