Remember when you stuffed your suitcase with clothes, make-up, accessories, and shoes—all thrown in in a rush, without folding or arranging them in any order? Well, ultimately you have to wind that mess up when your suitcase refuses to close or simply breaks open due to the hasty overstuffing?
Well, think of your digestive the same way. If you want it to work smoothly without giving you a host of health problems, you’ve got to make sure you’re eating mindfully and well—slowly.
Yep, there’s need for a lesser chewing speed
“Scientifically speaking, fast eating can create many problems in mental, emotional, and physical well-being of a person and surely needs to be stopped,” points out Ruhaan Rajput, nutritionist and founder, Gloss Clinic, Mumbai.
This is why he suggests you need to take your time with your food:
1. Fat eating can lead to digestion problems: According to Rajput, when you swallow your food instead of chewing it or simply don’t chew it long enough to break it into easily-digestible fragments-you invite multiple digestion problems like acidity and bloating.
2. It can make you gain weight: The digestion process starts in your mouth and by not allowing enough time for the saliva to break down the food into simpler sugars, you make your stomach release more acid to break it down once the food reaches it. The increased acid can make you feel hungry and in turn, make you overeat. It can even slow down your metabolism over time, further contributing to your weight gain.
Not to mention, it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to receive satiety signals and make you feel full. And chewing your food slowly gives your body just enough time to realise that you need to stop eating. This is another way you can avoid eating more than your appetite and can keep your weight in check.
3. It can lead to heart problems and heartburn: Apart from the extra weight making you obese and increasing the likelihood of you getting heart disease in the long run, even the extra acid from the stomach can give you severe heartburns, Rajput warns.
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4. It can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes: Another downside of obesity caused by fast eating is the increased likelihood of one developing diabetes or insulin resistance. Needless to say, if your blood sugar levels are not in control, your life can be wrecked.
What, then, is the right way to eat?
1. Make sure the bite-size is right: Rajput suggests keeping the size of one bite of your food equal to the gap between the tip and the middle line of your index finger for starters. Obviously, it is better to control the bite-size to chew well.
2. Move your mouth, baby: Rajput also recommends chewing one bite of food around 15-20 times before swallowing it so that the food’s broken down into smaller pieces. This way your digestive system doesn’t have to work harder to break it down once you gulp it down.
3. Lean on water for support: According to him, having two to three sips of water before eating can lubricate your mouth and oesophagus (food pipe) and support the saliva in turning the food into paste faster and more efficiently.
However, he warns against drinking water during or right after eating and recommends waiting for an hour before drinking two glasses of water to prevent bloating and improve digestion.
4. Eat mindfully: While eating, you should be focused on your meal to realise when you’re satiated and enjoy your meal properly. Hence, you should avoid any distractions like TV, newspaper, and conversations while eating.
Additionally, avoid eating in urgency or hurry as you won’t be able to chew your food properly then.
5. Practice conscious slow eating: Although it requires certain dedication, it is not that hard to incorporate slow eating habits. “Be easy on yourself and start with counting the number of times you chew the bite,” Rajput says.
“Choose healthy and light foods, especially during the night over any other options and avoid fast foods as much as possible if you still haven’t started chewing your food well,” he adds.