Do you eat your meals on the run without stopping to chew them thoroughly? According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who chew their food longer eat less overall and take in fewer calories.
That works in your favor when it comes to controlling your weight.
Most people don’t chew their food very long
If you’re like most people, you eat on the run and don’t always have the time to sit down to eat a meal at a slow, leisurely pace. This means you’re probably not taking the time to chew your food thoroughly. The average person chews a mouthful of food only 15 times. No wonder so many people suffer from indigestion! Not chewing your food enough not only causes you to consume more calories, it also hinders digestion.
How long you chew your food affects appetite hormones
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers gave normal weight and obese men a meal containing 2,200 calories. They monitored them closely to see how long they chewed their food, how much they ate and what effect chewing had on levels of hormones that control appetite.
They found that the obese men chewed their food less than the normal weight men and ate more food overall. Interestingly, the men who chewed their food longer (about 40 chews vs. 15) had lower levels of an appetite hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone produced by the stomach that sends hunger signals to the brain. Lower ghrelin levels turn off the desire to eat. These men also had higher levels of another appetite hormone called CCK. CCK is produced by the small intestines, and it suppresses appetite.
What does this mean for you?
Chewing your food longer can alter your appetite hormones in such a way that they get turned off earlier, so you’ll eat less. In this study, men who chewed their food 40 times ate 12% fewer calories overall. If this were to happen at every meal, the calorie savings would really add up. Something as simple as chewing your food longer could reduce how many calories you take in during the day without causing hunger.
Slow down and eat less
Some research also shows that slowing down the pace of your meals reduces total calorie consumption. People who eat their meals slowly in a more relaxed manner feel fuller and more satisfied with fewer calories. The reason? It takes time for appetite hormones to kick in and send the signal that it’s time to stop eating. It usually takes about 20 minutes for these hormones to react to a meal. So chewing your food more and not rushing a meal can both cut your total calorie consumption, and it’s good for overall weight and health management.
The bottom line
It may take some retraining to learn to slow down when eating. Instead of rushing through a meal, take the time to appreciate its taste and texture instead of mindlessly swallowing it. Concentrate on what you’re eating. Many people eat mindlessly. This is a bad habit if you’re trying to keep your weight under control. Remember mum’s words of wisdom. Chew your food thoroughly instead of gulping it down, and be a more mindful eater.