Who hasn’t found themselves standing at their kitchen counter and inhaling their meal? Many of us don’t take the time to sit down and enjoy our mealtime. When it comes to making sure you chew your food well, it’s time to pay attention.
Chewing, the first step in a long digestion process
Our body works hard to be able to use the nutrients contained in the food we eat. Digestion is a long journey that begins in the mouth, continues in the stomach and ends with the intestines and colon.
When food enter the mouth, it is chewed and mixed with saliva. At this stage, the digestion of carbohydrates begins with the amylase enzyme. Chewing also sends a message to the brain to prepare the stomach for the arrival of food. The digestion of carbohydrates continues in the stomach using the enzymes and acidity present. At this stage, proteins and fats will also be digested. The various nutrients will then be absorbed through the intestinal wall and sent into the bloodstream to be used by the body.
Why should we take the time to chew our meals well?
In order to optimize digestion and the absorption of nutrients
As you now know, chewing food is an important first step to properly begin digestion, and the better the digestion, the more the body can benefit from the nutrients contained in what you eat. Note that if you suffer from gastrointestinal disorders such as bloating, reflux, gas… chewing well and taking your time at meals could greatly help.
If you take the time to chew well, then your meals will last longer, and this will allow you to better listen to your signals of satiety and fullness. It may be that you don’t need to eat as much. Taking the time to chew could help you to lose weight, as it allows you to be more attentive to your body signals.
To discover the pleasure of eating again
Taking the time to chew well helps you to enjoy every bite and enjoy your meal to the fullest. Take the time to make beautiful meals, with lots of colors and different food textures. Your 5 senses will be fulfilled!
To maintain your jaw
And yes, to maintain your muscles you have to use them! The best way to work your jaw is to chew non-processed natural foods that crunch under your teeth such as vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts and seeds or even whole grains for example.
Five tips to help you remember to chew more:
Allow plenty of time for your meal. The ideal would be to allow 30 minutes. If you have little time to eat, plan your meals in advance by cooking good home-cooked meals on the weekends for example, our meal plans are available to help. Also, when it comes to your lunch break, you can give yourself the time you need by sitting at the table and not running around. Plus, make sure you have a balanced meal instead of just fridge snacking.
Avoid eating in front of the TV, when you are reading or working, this disconnects you with your satiating signals, and you will tend to forget to chew well.
Choose different textures on your plate. We want to eat our food! If you opt for a soup or smoothie, avoid drinking it too quickly, take the time to savor it and leave it in your mouth so that it can mix with your saliva.
Challenge yourself. Why not take the challenge of allowing 10 more minutes than usual for your lunch, or chewing each bite 30 times.
Teach your children to adopt good habits from an early age. Why not play games with them at the table to help them become aware to chew well. For example, take a raw carrot and count how many times it can be chewed. Try to eat as slowly as the one who usually takes the most time to eat. Or think about putting your fork down multiple times during the meal, the one who forgets loses a point.
If you want to get your eating habits back on track, but don’t know where to start, our dietitians are available to help, as well as our balanced meal plans.
Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian graduated from the University of Montreal in December 2018 and is a member of the Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec (OPDQ). She believes that the quality of our food choices has a direct impact on our health and energy level. Her goal? To help people improve the quality of what they put in their plates, for their better well-being and greater pleasure.
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