Modern life can be hectic with so many things to fit in each day, and we are all guilty of eating ‘on the run’, with very little chewing. However, this is not conducive to good health as we are missing out a vital step.
Chewing produces saliva that breaks down food ready for the digestive juices in the stomach to work effectively.
Chewing or mastication is the process by which food is crushed by teeth . It is the first step of digestion and it increases the surface area of foods to allow a more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, the food is positioned by the cheek and tongue between the teeth for grinding. The muscles of mastication move the jaws to bring the teeth into intermittent contact, repeatedly occluding and opening.
As chewing continues, the food is made softer and warmer, and the enzymes in saliva begin to break down carbohydrates in the food. After chewing, the food (now called a bolus) is swallowed. It enters the oesophagus and via peristalsis continues on to the stomach, where the next step of digestion occurs.
Why is eating quickly bad?
- Large lumps of food passing down the oesophagus can cause indigestion, burping and flatulence.
- Fewer nutrients will be absorbed from the food.
- It can affect mindset, making us feel sluggish, out of shape and discouraged.
The MORE (physical) work your mouth does, the LESS (chemical) energy is required further down.
This will give you more ENERGY to use for other activities!
8 practical tips during mealtimes
- Slow down! Take your time eating snacks and meals. It can take up to 20 minutes for the body to signal that it feels full (satiety).
- Try to taste each mouthful – be aware of the food – is it salty, savoury, bitter or sweet?
- Put your knife and fork or spoon down between each bite.
- Breathe in between mouthfuls – be mindful to not rush
- Take small sips of water (avoid drinking too much water at meal times though, as this will dilute the action and effectiveness of stomach acid during digestion).
- Turn off the TV and leave your phone on the bench (on silent).
- During the day, sit outside if you can in the sunshine to eat.
- At dinner time, sit round the table with your partner or family, light a candle, talk about the day and enjoy your meal.