nom nom nom : the sound made when someone is eating or chewing something and really enjoying it. ~ Urban Dictionary
When I was a kid, I remember my grandmother telling me that I should chew every bite 40 times. I also remember rolling my eyes at her…well, not so that she could see. I thought it was silly…she thought chewing 40 times preventing choking and I thought it was something an old person should do, but not me.
Over the years, every once in a while, her advice would pop into my head and I would try to chew 40 times and found it not only hard to do, but kind of gross. And I still thought it was silly.
As I’ve said here on this blog several times, Tim eats slowly and the other night I noticed (not for the first time), that he tends to chew a lot. I know that his father has a fear of choking, and he told me that it’s because, as a child, it was his job to make sure his own mother (who had Parkinson’s disease) didn’t choke when she ate.
I thought, perhaps, that Tim’s Dad had instilled the lesson, and that Tim didn’t think it was silly. And have I said lately that Tim is what I consider to be a naturally thin person?
And have I said lately that I’ve been thinking a lot about eating more slowly myself, but also seem to forget, even with a reminder?
So getting back to the other night, I asked Tim to count how many times he chews each bite. After taking several bites, he said he counted between 30 and 50 chews, depending on the size of the bite!
So I made myself count my chews and at first, I was chewing maybe 15 to 20 times and that was with me focused on chewing more! But as dinner progressed, I was able to chew 40 times or more, again, depending on the size of the bite. I also made a point of putting my fork down in between bites.
I felt like a recalcitrant child who was finally learning a lesson.
So after dinner, I googled “40 chews per bite” and was impressed with the information I discovered. There were plenty of articles and blog posts about a study done in China that revealed that chewing more can cut calorie intake by 12% and that those who chew more had lower levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone produced in the stomach.
Not only that, but chewing more reduces digestive issues and helps us taste our food more, and when we taste more, there is more satisfaction and pleasure, which, as I said in Slow Is The New Sexy* , is linked to all kinds of good things.
I also made myself a new sign.
I want to close this post with something I remember reading in the book The End Of Overeating by Dr. David Kessler (paraphased): Not only are foods (especially in restaurants) spiked with lots of salt, fat and sugar, they are also processed to make them easy to swallow, minimizing the amount of chewing required. One food industry insider quoted in the book calls it “adult baby food.”
And in this interview , Kessler says, “it’s almost as if it’s predigested. It goes down in a whoosh, because the food is so highly processed. We used to chew about 20 chews per bite. Today, it’s two or three. Food is now designed for a quick disappearance; the food industry understands that rollercoaster in the mouth. When that food goes down easy, you reach for the repeat.”