Are you a lightning-quick eater or do you dine leisurely like many other cultures? The answer may play a role in your weight. A new study released in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that people who chew their food more – 40 times as opposed to the typical 15 times – consume 12% less calories. Less calories in means more weight lost.
The study also found that more chewing affected appetite hormones. Levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes you feel hungry, were reduced, and levels of CCK, which is the hormone that makes you feel full, were elevated. Less hungry + fuller faster = less food consumed. I like this math!
But, in this busy, hectic life, where we wear multiple hats at the same time – mom, dad, wife, husband, student, job, errands, kid stuff, chauffeur, cook (you get the picture) – getting in a meal is usually done quickly and on-the-fly. Who has time to sit down and dine? You do! In a perfect world, it would be ideal to enjoy every meal and snack in a quiet and focused manner. And yes, this is what I coach my clients to do, by helping them problem-solve their busy days and finding ways to slow down and nourish the body. Eating more slowly (whether you chew your food more times or not) allows you to better be in touch with your level of fullness and satisfaction. Which leads to becoming more in touch with your feelings both physical and emotional.
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In addition, setting aside time to eat without any distractions (tv, computer, email, etc.) is a way to show that you honor and respect yourself. It’s part of good self-care. If you take the time to choose or prepare a healthy meal so that you can nourish yourself properly, why are you not taking the time to enjoy every bite of that meal? Besides, 20 minutes of uninterrupted mealtime is a great way to recharge your battery, which will make you more productive in all the other areas of your life.