Nutrition Articles

Stop and Chew Your Dinner

The Benefits of Slowing Down & Chewing More


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.
Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 2  

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

  • Some distractions actually help me eat slowly. Right now I have to put my food down because I'm typing. Eating while at the computer is different than eating in front of the TV. It's also a difference of eating alone vs. being with others. Sitting alone chewing and thinking about my food feels weird to me. So onto the computer I go. - 9/28/2015 8:14:01 AM
  • I'm just like BUB001...always the last one finished eating at a restaurant, probably because I do so much talking too. I tend to eat meals while sitting at the computer and with the TV on (talk about multi-tasking!) and it usually takes me at least 30 min to finish. - 9/27/2015 4:57:13 PM
  • As I child and through most of my young adulthood, I was the last to leave the table. I was a very picky eater and very slow. Since I became a teacher many years ago, I became a fast eater out of necessity (no long lunches any longer). I need to rethink my eating habits again. The digestion factor is an important one. - 9/27/2015 9:42:36 AM
  • Not something I've ever had a problem with. I guess I talk too much when in a restaurant with friends or family, because I'm always the last person to finish eating. The young ones then groan if I also order a dessert. - 9/14/2015 11:20:26 PM
  • When I was teaching we only had a half hour for lunch. That's not a lot of time to get to the teacher's lounge, grab your food and eat. And if we had lunch duty, there was barely time to wolf down food before the next class. - 9/14/2015 11:04:14 AM
  • I am the oldest of 5 kids and we didn't always have lots to eat so I learned to eat fast! Now, at 58, I STILL eat fast. I try to slow down but....I will keep trying! - 9/13/2015 4:08:54 PM
  • I really lack chewing skills but an expert at gobbling down. By time I sit down at the table my family has the food half-eaten and I feel I must catch up. Is it really a race? - 9/13/2015 12:36:52 PM
  • This was so interesting! I definitely need to slow down and be more mindful... give myself a chance to feel full, too. - 9/13/2015 10:54:27 AM
  • I certainly needed this article, This is going to be a challenge that I am willing to accept.
    Slow down self...Think about this article at each meal !!! - 8/16/2015 11:28:00 AM
  • I am also a fast eater I need this article as well. Makes a lot of sense. - 4/2/2015 1:37:25 PM
    I sure needed this article. I eat fast. I have slowed down a couple time, but then mindlessly the next day-off to the races. I'm eating fast.
    I've read that by eating slowly also helps in making you feel "full", so you don't eat as much. This is great if you are trying to lose weight. - 4/2/2015 12:18:49 PM
  • I am the world's worse at eating like someone is going to grab my food away. I then sit and talk while my sister finishes eating at a leisurely pace. If I'm by myself, I will eat mindlessly at the computer. - 4/2/2015 8:30:28 AM
  • This article is for me definitely, I have always had problems with eating terribly fast, even if I'm not in a hurry, I'm not even hungry or I'm eating in a group. It takes me up to a a few minutes to eat my plate off. My dietitian told me this is a very bad habit from many points of view, but it's still very hard for me to control myself and slow down. - 4/2/2015 4:57:29 AM
  • Great article! I think a lot of us need this reminder. - 3/31/2015 8:52:05 PM
  • Take time to chew! My dad poked a tiny hole in his throat because he didn't chew properly. He had to spend 4 days in the hospital and a clear liquid diet for 2 weeks, so make sure you chew! - 1/27/2015 4:08:16 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by November 21! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.