While we worry about what to eat and when, what not to eat and why, obsess over dietary supplements and superfoods, and carefully negotiate the increasingly complex matter of what to eat for breakfast, we may be overlooking the simplest and most basic “how to” when it comes to healthy eating and weight loss: chewing our food slowly.
It is said that there is beauty in simplicity, but too often, and this is especially true when it comes to weight loss and nutrition, the simple gets overlooked. With obesity now a critical issue in the UAE and around the world, it seems the more serious the challenge with weight loss becomes, the more complicated and sophisticated the solutions are.
Chewing is one of the most functional aspects of our digestion, yet many of us eat quickly, hurrying through meals because of hectic schedules, or eating on the run between appointments.
Dr Harald Stossier, from the celebrity-favoured Viva Mayr Clinic in Austria, has famously said: “A well-chewed burger is better for your waistline than a badly chewed salad.”
The quickest way to a flatter stomach, then, without changing your diet or what you actually consume for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is to start paying attention to the food that’s in your mouth. Chewing slowly means it will take you longer to finish your meal, but it also means you will need smaller portions. Chewing properly gives your brain a chance to register when you are full, allowing you to stop eating instead of racing through a large meal only to realise you’re full after you have overeaten.
Here are seven reasons why you should eat slowly:
1 Your stomach does not have teeth. If you don’t chew your food properly, your digestive system won’t be able to break it down.
2 Undigested food takes more space in your stomach than digested food and creates bloating, thus slowing down the entire digestive process.
3 Chewing not only breaks down your food for your stomach, it actually is the beginning of the digestion process. Enzymes are released as you are chewing that actually begin to "prepare" the food so that your stomach has an easier job.
4 Chewing slowly also helps increases the alkalinity of the food, which is extremely important. Many people suffer from acid reflux, heart burn and indigestion, and while some foods – even if chewed well – trigger these problems, it is important to note that the longer you chew, the less acid is formed.
5 Eating fast leads to a lot of air being swallowed, causing unnecessary bloating, regardless of what you are eating, whether a fruit salad or chocolate bar.
6 Eating slowly means that your body is more relaxed, which is essential for efficient digestion and a feeling of lightness.
7 Gobbling your meal quickly under stressful circumstances – such as during a meeting at work – means diverting energy away from your digestive system, thus leading to fewer calories burnt, slower metabolism and a bigger waistline.