Chew your food!

If your childhood was anything like mine then you will remember being repeatedly told by your parents to ‘chew your food’ during almost every meal. What they probably didn’t realise was this lesson in etiquette could also play a major part in whether or not you lose weight. 

Quick fixes and fads. If you have been to this blog before you will know about my disdain for both. But it is important to recognise the difference between a quick fix, and a small change that is helping to contribute to your overall fitness.

Sometimes you can change something small and it won’t take you too long to notice the difference. But it has to be part of the wider picture so that in the end your life is comprised of these relatively small healthier choices. Now that is not the same as looking for something that will fix all your problems overnight, even if you are eating as much as you like and doing no exercise.

So how can chewing your food be considered as one of these healthy lifestyle choices? I think it is fairly obvious that the first thing it is going to help is digestion. Admittedly this might have little impact on your weight loss, but maintaining a healthy digestive system is vital.

This whole theory is based on the premise that if you chew your food, you will consume less calories than if you had otherwise just inhaled it, for want of a better word. And there is actually some substance to all of this. Numerous studies have shown that people who chew their food for longer will eat less over the course of a meal.

On average, it takes around twenty minutes for your stomach to let your brain know that you are full. Just think about that for a moment. That means you can be eating for twenty minutes after you really should have stopped. But if you chew your food for longer, you give your brain time to realise that you are full and stop eating.

And chewing isn’t the only way to achieve this. You can try having breaks during your meals or having a drink of water regularly throughout. Anything that slows down the rate at which you eat is thought to help you consume fewer calories.

Does that sound like a quick fix? I guess it might in someways. But this is a lot harder in practice than in reality. For example, if somebody says that making your handwriting neater will help your life in someway it wouldn’t be easy to just change your handwriting there and then. And research has shown that our chewing methods really might be that unique. Without even realising it you will be chewing your food in a wholly similar way, whatever the food and whatever the time of day.

But where do we draw the line? Otherwise you could find yourself sat there chewing one piece of broccoli for an entire meal, while your family tuck into their last bite. Well I have heard some crazy suggestions. For this to work it has to be realistic. Nobody is going to sit there and chew their food fifty times, surely?

Just making an active effort to chew that little bit longer will help. Anything that improves on what you are doing now will be a good thing. If you want to put a number on it then that is up to you. Maybe try and start with twenty chews, or just keep chewing for thirty seconds. Then tailor it to feel right for you.

This isn’t going to give you overnight abs, sorry. But what it will do is serve as one of those many little lifestyle choices that you need to adopt if you want to achieve and maintain good physical fitness.

Ollie Lawrence
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