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Nutrition Articles

Stop and Chew Your Dinner

The Benefits of Slowing Down & Chewing More

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For food particles to even leave your stomach though, the “gates” of the stomach, the pyloric sphincter, must open. Conveniently, chewing also aids in this process, signaling this event. And speaking of signals, just seeing your food causes your brain to send signals to the pancreas and stomach to secrete digestive acids and enzymes that are essential to digestion. And the longer your food has contact with your taste and smell receptors—the longer you chew each bite—the stronger these signals become. Strong signals mean more digestive molecules, less indigestion, less acid reflux, and superior nutrient absorption.

Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly has another benefit. It might shrink your waistline—and not just because you’ll have less bloating and indigestion. Eating more slowly gives your body a chance to tell your mind that it’s full, so that you stop eating before you go overboard. In a preliminary study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2004, study subjects ate less when they were instructed to eat more slowly.

Here are some practical tips for chewing more thoroughly and eating more slowly:
  • Give yourself enough time to eat—at least 20-30 minutes just to eat the meal, plus additional time to prepare it.
  • Don’t eat amidst distractions, like the TV, computer, or while driving.
  • Be fully present while you eat. Notice the smell, temperature, texture, color, and subtle flavor differences of each food you consume.
  • Take smaller portions, taking a break before refilling.
  • Put your fork down after each bite.
  • Eat mindfully, chewing each bite as many times as necessary to pulverize any texture.
  • If you’re eating in a group, be aware of the speed at which others are eating. Challenge yourself to be the last to finish.
Besides all of the physical benefits, perhaps the most pleasant benefit of all is that, if you allow yourself to slow down and chew, you’ll enjoy your food much more.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I have to take small bites and chew them well because of my lap band. 104 pounds as of today. Well worth it! - 10/15/2014 6:12:49 PM
  • I agree with BAIXOMUSIC. I eat breakfast and lunch with sparkpeople. In between bites I type something, scroll to read something or check out my friend feed. That's what slows down my eating. If I'm typing, I can't pick up my food.
    I eat dinner with DH so there I agree with the article. Good information about the aid to digestion. I never considered that before. - 10/15/2014 7:51:21 AM
  • I agree that less chewing causes excess gas in the colon for that is an issue for me. I often eat without my dentures and I now understand the value of wearing of dentures to eat chewing properly. - 6/23/2014 7:30:32 AM
  • SUESPA2
    I have started to SIT AT THE LOUNGE TABLE! To make my food go down better & After eating Wait for my food to go down Couple of Minutes! - 3/3/2014 1:56:43 PM
  • CURLYKAYLEIGH
    How do you eat that slwoly when you have smaller portions. AND if the food is hot after 10 minutes it's cold and not so great. I enjoy my food and portion it out correctly. I then dont eat for 30 minutes and have some tea just to make sure I am okay.

    I would like some advice on slower eating please?

    Thanks :) - 3/3/2014 7:18:47 AM
  • Great sentiment, but as I have no sense of smell, my taste is very poor, so eating is a much more mechanical process for me. No 'stop and savor the flavors' because, unless its curry, chilli, Mexican, etc there is very little flavor I can detect!!!
    However, seeing as I am always the first to finish, I need to take this on board to aid my digestion.
    Thanks for a thought provoking article. - 2/4/2014 5:31:31 AM
  • I make every effort to explain to my 14 almost 15 year old son to take his time when eating. He jokes that I am old (33) and I am just slower than eating.
    Due to the fact that I enjoy cooking and the food that I cook, not only for myself, but also what he enjoys... Yes, I take me time... Put down my fork and ask myself... 'Am I full or still hungry'. - 1/25/2014 2:05:23 PM
  • I'm not sure why the article says not to eat with the TV or computer. As a single person, it is the only way to slow down my consumption. If I sat at my dinner table with only my food, all I would have to do is eat and I would eat fast. Most of the time, I do sparkpeople when I eat. So I take a bite, then enter something. Right now I'm filling out this form between bites from my morning oatmeal. If I wasn't sparking, then I would just be eating and I would be finished by now. - 1/11/2014 10:02:14 AM
  • I am always the first one to finish my food first , and I need to slow down to , but I think it is because I am rushed or I wait to long before meals that I feel like I am starving ,then I over eat . - 1/11/2014 6:03:58 AM
  • I am always the first one to finish my food first , and I need to slow down to , but I think it is because I am rushed or I wait to long before meals that I feel like I am starving ,then I over eat . - 1/11/2014 6:01:45 AM
  • I try and take the time to make great meals and enjoy them :) When you savour your food you'll naturally chew slower, concentrating on the flavours instead of glomping down as much as you can!

    Unfortunately, this semester I have back-to-back classes and I'm forced to eat my lunch and my snacks in class ): - 1/6/2014 9:32:52 PM
  • what a great article , it makes perfect sence. i am a terrible fast eater and when my daughter lived home she use to hep me out by saying "mom ,slow down , theres no hurry" i loved it. Also the part about how chewing your food reduces the gas and bloating i never knew it ! thanks so much for the knowledge ! i'm slowing down!! - 10/28/2013 8:31:04 AM
  • I completely get this. When I was smaller, I ate slower. My Mom always made me eat slower and then I lived on my own so I'd eat slow and at the table with no distractions. Now I live with someone who eats very fast and we don't own a kitchen table and I've put on like 50 pounds since I've met him. Time to get back in to old habits is day! :-) - 10/27/2013 5:49:28 PM
  • I have attempted to tell my son that he should slow down when eating. He says that he does not rush, it is just the way that he eats.
    ~I enjoy taking my time to eat and when I get full, I put what is left in a container for another day.
    - 10/5/2013 11:12:00 AM
  • I definitely eat more quickly in groups. At least when it comes to dinner I notice that I slow down. I guess I believe that dinner time is time to talk with the people around you and not be on your phone on computer. If I'm alone then it is the opposite. - 10/2/2013 5:50:57 PM

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