Chewing food well can help you AVOID weight gain, study suggests

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chewing-food-well(NaturalHealth365)  Most of us understand that what we eat (e.g., whole foods vs processed foods) and even when we eat (e.g., intermittent fasting) can have an impact on our overall health and weight.  But growing research suggests that how we eat can impact our weight loss goals.

Case in point: a recent study suggesting that chewing your food longer before swallowing may actually help you stave off obesity … in addition to being a valuable tip for food safety.

Savor every bite?  Here’s why chewing more slowly and thoroughly could be good for your waistline

It’s been known since the 19th century that chewing food slowly can help fight weight gain by controlling a person’s appetite.  Chewing well also improves digestion and, of course, improves one’s safety while eating by reducing the risk of choking.  More recent evidence has also found that slow eating can also increase a person’s postprandial (post-meal) energy expenditure, which may help further drive sustainable weight loss.

A December 2021 study from Scientific Reports investigated the effects of slow eating on postprandial energy expenditure (aka diet-induced thermogenesis).  The small randomized cross-over trial involved just 11 healthy male participants who were exposed to three separate feeding situations: (1) drinking liquid food normally, (2) drinking liquid food after tasting, and (3) adding chewing while tasting.

The authors found that what they call oral stimuli, or the duration of tasting or chewing food in the mouth, “significantly increased diet-induced thermogenesis after drinking liquid food.”

In other words, the duration of time that food stays in a person’s mouth while eating has a positive effect on the increase in energy expenditure following the meal (the longer the food stays in the mouth, the greater the post-meal rise in energy expenditure), independent of the food bolus itself.

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These findings don’t suggest that a person can overeat every day and not gain weight so long as they eat slowly, but it does offer greater insight into how postmeal thermogenesis occurs (i.e., oral stimuli).

The authors conclude that their findings support their hypothesis, adding that “overweight and obesity may be avoided by chewing and tasting via increases in [diet-induced thermogenesis].”

Another point for mindful eating?  Here’s how to bring this practice to the table

The findings of this study corroborate a growing body of evidence that suggests that mindful eating, which ties in Buddhist influences on the art of being fully present and aware during mealtime, may also help with weight loss.

Curious about how to incorporate more mindful slow eating into your daily meals?  Here are some suggestions from Harvard Medical School:

  • Make your meal last longer, say 20 to 30 minutes.  Set a timer to help.
  • If it’s safe for you to do so, try eating with your non-dominant hand.  This should force you to slow down.  You could also try using unusual utensils, like chopsticks.
  • While eating, think about all the people and steps involved in getting your meal to the table: sunlight, water, farmers, truckers, grocery store workers, and cooks.
  • Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself if you are really hungry before eating.  If the answer is “No,” or “I’m not sure,” do something else for 10 minutes (read a book, take a short walk) before heading back to the fridge.

And finally, take small bites, chew slowly, and chew well!

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