I had an “aha” moment last night while eating my dinner. I caught myself with too much food in my mouth at one time, and realized that I needed to slow down and chew my food more thoroughly.
This is a microcosm of my life lately. Last fall, after a particularly busy few months, my body started to give me signals that I needed to slow down my pace of life. Thankfully, I have listened to my body – I took a week off, and have upped my self-care with walks, relaxation, baths, reading, meditation, and eating slowly.
And, very importantly, I am making sure to incorporate these self-care gems into my everyday life.
Back to chewing. Chewing our food is very under-rated in our society. Life seems to be about moving fast - rushing to and from work/activities, fast food, eating breakfast on-the- run, lunch at the desk, etc.
With such busyness in life going on, it seems like there is no time to eat. Well guess what? These priorities are screwed up!
Eating is the sustenance of life, and deserves to have a place of high priority with mealtimes carved out as part of our day. As a colon hydrotherapist, I constantly get to see, through the view tube in the equipment, what comes out of the other end of the digestive tract.
And, just like your dentist knows if you have been flossing or not, I know if you have been chewing your food thoroughly or not! I have to say that I see a lot of undigested food, or rather ‘unchewed food’, sometimes very identifiable like mushrooms, nuts, seeds, red pepper.
I so often find myself talking to clients about their chewing habits. It is amazing how people pay attention when they see for themselves their own unchewed food being eliminated!
Problems arising from not chewing thoroughly include:
- improper digestion from eating too fast and not calmly;
- lack of digestive enzymes from the saliva because food is not staying in the mouth long enough;
- not getting the nutrients from these pieces of food that are not breaking down;
- undigested food in the GI tract can lead to a condition called ‘leaky gut’ which can also contribute to allergies;
- the ileocecal valve between the small and large intestine is forced to stay open wider to allow these foods through which can lead to intestinal problems.
We CAN slow down our chewing, and we do this by retraining ourselves.
Here are the chewing tips that I have taught to thousands of people:
1. Look at the size of the bite of food that you are about to put into your mouth. It should be approximately 1- inch in diameter, no bigger than a loonie. If you put in a huge mass of food, there is no way that you can chew it all thoroughly!
2. Put your fork down between each bite, and do not pick it up again until we have swallowed this bite. Simple but not easy! We are so busy getting our fork ready with the next bite and drooling over how good it is going to be. Think about it though – we are so NOT in the moment, we are actually trying to be in the next moment by anticipating it. Putting our fork down forces us to pay attention to what is in our mouth right now, the texture, how much it is chewed. Believe me, by staying mindfully in the present moment, you will even taste the food more! That is a fabulous benefit.
3. Do an experiment and Count Your Chews. First of all, put a bite into your mouth, and count how many times you chew it by doing your regular way of chewing. Secondly, put another bite into your mouth, and this time count to 40 chews. I have heard anywhere from 25-50 chews, so experiment with how many you need. The food in your mouth ought to be chewed to a consistency of a paste or a liquid before swallowing.
“How we digest food is how we digest life” Have you heard this before? I felt shocked when I read this statement. Having had my share of digestive challenges in my life, I immediately knew it was true. Helping our digestive system by slowing down and chewing thoroughly extends health and well-being to every area of our life. So let me ask you, “How are you digesting life?”
Certified Colon Hydrotherapist