Does your day revolve around the meals you eat, or is your schedule so tight that you give food little thought? Whatever your situation, you don’t likely put much thought into what happens as you eat.
That bite you take is just the beginning of digestion. Chewing the bite not only breaks up the food but mixes it with digestive juices. Swallowing sends the food down your esophagus into your stomach where it meets highly acidic stomach acid to continue the process of breaking the food down into constituents that can eventually be absorbed. When liquefied, the food (now called chyme) passes into the small intestine where it is joined by digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the gallbladder. The small intestine is where absorption begins, finishing in the colon before excretion of waste.
What is your normal practice when you are eating? Not chewing well is one of the major causes of digestive distress. Think about it … we eat on the run, standing up, while on the phone or working. We eat without giving a moment’s thought to the foods we are consuming, and then wonder why we experience gas, bloating and discomfort after the meal. That’s because your body is in “fight or flight mode” and digestion is shut down so that the body can react to demands.
Want to improve your digestion? Give your body a chance to “rest and digest.” Take time for your meals. Sit down and pay attention to the food you are eating. Put a small bite – not max capacity size – in your mouth and begin to chew. You will probably have the urge to swallow after just a few chews, but pretend you have gum in your mouth and hold the food in your cheek while you swallow the saliva … then keep chewing. Notice how the taste and the texture of the food changes.
Give yourself a basic number of chews – say 10 for soft foods and 20-30 for meat – and focus on relaxing while you are eating. If you spend at least 20 minutes working through a meal this way, you will find yourself feeling full without actually eating as much, thanks to the release of the hormone leptin, also known as the “satiety hormone.”
Oh, I hear your thoughts. “I don’t have time to sit down for a meal.” or “Are you kidding?” No, I’m quite serious. You don’t have time to fight brain fog, sluggish energy, or illness. YOU – and your health – are worth taking time to chew and digest.
Give it a try and let me know how your body responds!