I got my wisdom teeth out the Thursday before Christmas. I did this not only so I would have time to recover during my time off but I have to admit that part of the reason I did this was so I wouldn’t go crazy with the eating over the holidays. One of my coworkers realized what I did and told me I was “out of control.”
While I’ve been mainly on a liquid/soft food diet the last few days, I’ve started to long for the ability to chew…something I’ve never been good at in the first place. So many times I’ve “inhaled” my meals where I’ve sat down to eat and before I know it the food is gone.
Digestion doesn’t start in our stomachs, it starts in our mouths. Our saliva has enzymes that help break down our foods before it reaches the stomach. Ever have a bloated or gassy feeling after eating? Part of the reason is because yo didn’t chew enough. The more you do in your mouth, the less your stomach has to do and the fewer digestive problems you will have. Chewing not only helps us break down our food but it’s also a way for us to spend the time to enjoy our foods. And it helps us eat less! It normally takes our bodies 20 minutes to register satiety and fullness. When we take the time to chew, we give ourselves the time to realize that we are full. Eating slowly is an easy way to cut calories.
So how much should you chew before swallowing? 20? 30? 40 times? It depends on the food. Obviously a piece of cheese is broken down with fewer chomps than a cube of meat. A good rule is to chew to the point where you don’t recognize the food. If you’re chewing a carrot, chew until it’s no longer crunchy…and may be a few extra chomps? Couldn’t hurt!