As a kid, you probably remember your parents telling you to slow down and really chew your food, especially if you were really itching to leave the table!
As it turns out, they were right, but probably not in the way they were thinking. Chewing food isn’t just a means to get food into your body— it’s vital for ensuring everything goes through your digestive system as easily as possible.
Every bite should be a deliberate step towards better nutrition andproper digestion. But with our busy lifestyles, sometimes that’s much easier said than done.
How many times do we rush through a meal to get on with work, get to our next task, or drop the kids off somewhere? Maybe you eat while you’re working. In our perfectly imperfect lives, sometimes we’re just short on time. It happens to all of us!
However, stopping to really chew your food is so important not just to your digestion but to your overall health too.
Why It’s So Important to Chew Your Food Properly
Eating shouldn’t just be something we do mindlessly— it should be its own separate, sacred task.
I took some classes on chewing at theAnn Wigmore Institute, and I wanted to share some interesting information and perspectives that I discovered in those classes.
Dr. Ann Wigmore says that if we are not chewing our food well or concentrating on eating while we are eating we are wasting our time with food!
When we eat, we are releasing stored energy and nutrients in the food, that transfer into our body through digestion and assimilation. In order for that plant food to really nourish us, even if we are eating the healthiest and most organic plant food on the planet, we have to be sure we are digesting it properly. Chewing your food properly not only leads to healthy digestion, but it can also encourage healthy eating habits, like taking your time and eating slowly.
This, in turn, helps you stay at a healthy weight since it’s much easier to tell when you’re satisfied and avoid overeating.
On the other hand, not chewing your food properly can lead todigestive problems, not to mention being a choking hazard!
Chewing Your Food and the Digestive System
Digestion is a whole process that, as the adage says, the journey is more important that the destination.
Let’s go into this step-by-step by looking at each stop in your digestive tract.
An important step in digestion starts with your mouth. Chewing food isn’t just turning one big piece into many a smaller piece, it introduces salivary enzymes into each bite so that you can begin digesting them.
Nutrient absorption is also much easier when your food is sufficiently broken down before you swallow it.
When you swallow your food, your tongue pushes it into your throat and into your esophagus, where it travels to its next destination.
Upon arriving in your stomach, food is mixed with stomach acid to digest it further. When the food is digested enough, it moves from your stomach into the small intestine.
In the small intestine, food is broken down further before its nutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream. After nutrient absorption, the leftover food matter moves onto your large intestine.
Here, it encounters a diverse community of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics. These bacteria play a crucial role in processing waste, protecting you against harmful bacteria, and even synthesizing essential vitamins for your body. Incorporating probiotic supplements into your routine can further support the balance of these beneficial gut bacteria and contribute to improved digestion and overall gut health.
Your large intestine processes waste to make elimination as easy as possible. Your stool contains mostly food debris, as well as bacteria. These bacteria help your body process waste, protect you against bad bacteria, and synthesize vitamins that your body can use.
The final stops in your digestive cycle are the rectum and the anus, where waste is eliminated. Your bowel movements can actually tell you a lot about the state of your health. If you want to learnhow to tell if you have healthy poop, check out my article on the topic!
6 Things to Think About While You Chew Your Food
Digestion is not a mechanical task that always turns out the same no matter what. Digestion involves our total being, our state of mind, our emotions, and our environment. And all of that is crucial when it comes to chewing your food.
If you want to optimize your digestion and get the most nutrients out of your diet, check out my six tips below to achieve that, just by chewing your food properly.
1. Chew Chew Chew!
We’re not talking about trains here, remember what Dr. Ann Wigmore said: “If we are not chewing our food well or concentrating on eating, we are wasting our time with food!”
Or, if you don’t give chewing the time and consideration it deserves while you are eating, you’re not getting the most out of your food.
Even if you drink Green Juice or yourGlowing Green Smoothie® (GGS), you should chew your food so it mixes well with your saliva to aid the digestive process!
And as the old adage goes, solid food like salads should be chewed 40-100 times. I always used to ignore this popular adage, but not anymore! It is really amazing how much saliva you produce when you thoroughly chew your food. In one class I took at the Ann Wigmore Institute, we listened to music where every 60 seconds a bell would ring and that would signify to swallow. So it forced us to be conscious of chewing for 60 seconds, which pulverized the food into liquidity.
When you chew this well, it is amazing how full you get on way less food! Swallowing chunks of food is EXTREMELY harmful to the body, which has to waste lots of energy and additional enzymes to then break it down. Thoroughly chewing your food will also helpreduce bloating and discomfort.
If you are a fast eater now is the time to change your ways, for your own sake!
You eat with your whole body and your brain, so start by being totally relaxed. Take some deep breaths if that helps.
Relax your jaw (most of us clench) and even say the vowels first to fully loosen up the muscles in the face. Move your hands to your stomach to prepare it to receive food. This also puts us mentally in touch with our digestive organs and we become more connected to our body.
Smell your food first before eating it, and really look at it. Your body starts to produce important enzymes simply by smelling food! Hopefully, you meals are vibrant and beautiful with lots of natural enzymes. Sometimes the body needs a little extra support, especially when you’re older and producing less stomach acid or are eating foods with fewer natural enzymes.
Taking digestive enzymes before you eat to help break down macronutrients like protein, fats and carbohydrates can help you get even more nutrition from your food and improve digestion.
3. Be Conscious of Your Food Before You Start Eating
Poet, peace activist, teacher, and monk Thich Nhat Hanh once said:
If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.
He’s right! Mindful eating not only connects us to the food we eat, but it is so important for healthy digestion too. A few things to consider before you start eating may include:
Where did it come from?
How was it grown?
Who were the people that grew it?
Under what conditions did it grow?
When I was eating Energy Soup at the Ann Wigmore Institute, I started really thinking about the sunflower sprouts that it contained that grew in the greenhouse there. We had classes on growing them and I saw how full of amazing, vibrant energy they were and how they turned their beautiful little heads toward the light— like us! We want to always turn toward the Light! :)
So when we really think about our food, we become more grateful for it. When we eat in a state of gratitude, our food digests better and nourishes not only our bodies but our emotional, mental, and spiritual sides.
Food is energy, and energy affects us on all of these levels. There really is something to the idea of making food with love, and when someone makes something for you with love it does taste better! That’s why I always bless my food first.
I know, deep, right? Quite a contrast to people that jam the fast food they just bought at the drive-thru into their mouth as they keep on driving!
They’re not thinking about how that food came from the factory farm to the slaughterhouse to their packaged container, or the suffering and pain that the animal endured to become their meal. This suffering and pain would very much transfer to you if you were to eat the animal’s carcass.
Bad energy from your environment transfers also, which leads me to…
4. Don’t Eat in a Loud Place!
Clanking sounds and chairs and loud talking do NOT make for good digestion. If a place does not have peaceful energy, chances are that your food was made in a non-peaceful, rushed or agitated way as well. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want food with that energy in my body! If I sense that, I won’t eat there.
Many trendy restaurants are like that, so if I have a business meeting there or am meeting with friends, I’ll just get something to drink.
Don’t worry about what others think— the choices YOU make affect YOUR body.
5. Avoid Eating if You Are Angry, Sad, Agitated or Stressed Out
Life is stressful sometimes, I totally get it! But in order to optimize our digestion, it’s important to avoid eating as much as possible if you’re in a negative emotional state. Not only will you be much more likely to overeat (especially with unhealthy comfort foods like potato chips or ice cream), but it can impact how well your body digests your food and absorbs nutrients.
If you eat while you’re stressed, angry, agitated, or sad, your body will not assimilate the food in a good way! It’ll essentially work harder to achieve poorer-quality nutrient absorption.
With how stressful (and busy!) life can be sometimes, it can be hard to not eat if you’re not feeling great. It really is better not to eat in these conditions though— just wait or put it off, and your body will thank you!
6. Don’t Work, Watch TV or Read While You Are Eating
It’s just like Dr. Wigmore says, chewing your food should take your full concentration.
If you do anything else while you eat, your attention is diverted from the process of digestion and you will not assimilate the food in the same way. Talking should be limited also. This is really hard because eating and socializing have been very much integrated into our culture, and we always want to talk with our friends if we go out to eat together. I often eat with others, but I try to concentrate on my food when I’m actually chewing and swallowing.
Once I finish chewing and swallowing, I’ll put my fork down and talk for a minute and then go back to eating.
Chew, Cleanse, and Nourish: A Holistic Approach to Digestive Wellness
As you savor your meals and prioritize the power of mindful chewing, it’s important to recognize that this practice isn’t solely about your time at the table.
Chewing your food is a crucial step in aiding digestion, but it’s just the beginning. Remember that detoxification plays a significant role in promoting healthy digestion and gentle elimination. Incorporating a natural detox supplement can provide you with immediate benefits by helping your digestive system eliminate waste and built-up toxins effectively. That’s why I don’t skip a day without taking my Feel Good Detoxy!
If you’re really looking to kickstart your digestion, my 3 Day Waterfall Cleanse can give your body and mind a complete reset! Embarking on a cleans isn’t just about aiding digestion; it extends to emotional and mental clarity as well!
Remember that the term “food for thought” isn’t just a figure of speech. The way we chew our food, the nutrients we absorb, and the overall health of our digestive system profoundly impact not only our physical well-being but also our mental and emotional states. So, as you savor your next meal, consider the wisdom in the simple act of chewing—it’s more than just a mechanical process; it’s the gateway to nourishing both body and mind.