Nutrition Articles

Stop and Chew Your Dinner

The Benefits of Slowing Down & Chewing More

Page 2 of 2

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

  • Good thoughts…I'll have to chew on them. Ha! Seriously, I appreciate the article. Eating too fast is a bad habit for me. Now that I'm freshly aware of the problem and more educated about the benefits of chewing slowly, I will try again to break this life-long habit. Thanks! - 5/8/2016 7:37:57 AM
    How true, great article! - 5/7/2016 12:38:58 PM
    I enjoy eating mindfully, but sometimes I let myself get SO hungry, that I just want to wolf it all down! Making a meal by myself last 20 minutes is definitely a challenge! Funny thing though, when I'm with a group, I'm frequently the last one to finish my meal! - 4/27/2016 1:15:01 PM
  • I have a hard time making half a sandwich last for 20 minutes. - 12/15/2015 1:59:31 PM
  • I have discovered that the body/mind is a powerful tool to many healthy lifestyle changes. When I eat mindfully and concentrate on food I can feel the juices in my mouth. When I eat distracted I don't even notice or feel the juices come into my mouth. Mindfully is very important for our bodily functions. I am working on using mindful steps to better health. - 10/18/2015 9:25:08 AM
  • 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

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