As you endeavor to become a “normal” eater, you’ll most certainly want to get your teeth and tongue working for you. They’re probably not organs you think much about, except at brushing time or when you have an appointment with your dentist or hygienist. But, they’re key body parts in regulating appetite (along with your brain) and play a major role in registering pleasure and satisfaction.
It’s pretty easy to figure out what part your teeth play in the eating process. Chewing not only grinds food into small enough pieces for your stomach to digest it, it also releases flavor. Many rapid eaters don’t chew food long enough and swallow oversized bites. Not only is this unhealthy for digestion, but it prevents flavor from being released. Although you say you love food, do you really love it enough to chew at a slow rate so that flavor bursts out of every bite? Conversely, do you habitually over-chew until there’s no flavor left? Think about masticating just long enough to release flavor and reduce food into digestible particles.
Along with chewing, it’s essential that you let food sit on your tongue. First off, that’s the organ that registers flavor and will let you know whether or not you’re enjoying what you’re eating. The tongue sends taste status messages to the brain to let it know if it's having a good time with food. If you don’t allow your tongue to do its job, you might as well eat cardboard. The second thing this organ does is register satiation. If you pay close attention while eating, you’ll notice that your first few bites have far more wow than your last bite because taste buds eventually tire of a flavor—eat one thing long enough and it will soon seem as if it has no taste at all. If you chew food well and let it sit on your tongue, you’ll recognize when taste starts to go downhill. Through this process, your tongue will sense when flavor peaks, then send a message to your brain that you’re satisfied.
Of course, you have to focus attention on your tongue to sense when it registers peak flavor. Remember, it’s not saying you’re full and have had a sufficient quantity of food. It's signaling your brain so that it will know when you're qualitatively satisfied. At that point, continuing to eat more of a food won't generate more flavor. Eating is like sex: when you’re done, you’re done and you’re going to have to wait a bit to derive maximum pleasure. Make it a point whenever you eat to chew food thoroughly (but not obsessively) and give it plenty of time to rest on your tongue. Focus on flavor and satiation and trust that this funny, little organ will help you become a “normal” eater.
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Such good points here. I used to try to count the number of times I chewed before swallowing, but that gets old. I guess if we can at least be conscious of our habits and try to slow down a little, that's a start. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks for the reminder indeed! I have noticed lately I have been taking huge bites and not chewing nearly enough. I also notice I've been overeating a lot and not enjoying food as much as I should. Note to self!