1 min read

How fast do you eat? 

Do you take your time and chew your food well? Perhaps you chew each mouthful thoroughly - but even if you do it's still possible to rush your meals. 

Chewing well is not the same as eating slowly. 

If you chew at high speed rather than a slow leisurely pace the food even though each mouthful is well mushed up it won't be in your mouth long enough for the carbohydrates to be broken down by the enzymes in your saliva. 

Food needs to be in your mouth long enough for the digestive process to begin. When you swallow the food may have been physically broken down by your teeth but the carbohydrate content won’t be chemically broken down.

When you eat in a rush you also create a stress response. 

Your nervous system is like a little guard that constantly monitors what’s going on around you - checking your posture, your movements and your thoughts to determine whether you’re safe or not. 

So even though your just in a rush to get your chicken wrap finished so you can to get to that meeting or pick up the kids from their play-date your  little guard want to know that you're not about to be attacked by a sabre toothed tiger. Because as far as your guard is concerned - the most important thing is to stay alive.

When you eat quickly the message to your unconscious mind is that you are under threat. 

A fair assumption!

If you weren’t you would be relaxed and able eat slowly. When your nervous system believes you’re under threat it reacts with the release of stress hormones which put you in to a mild state of fight or flight. When that happens, energy is directed away from any body function not required to get you out of a dangerous situation. 

If you’ve read many of the other articles on LOVETUM you’ll know stress is not good for digestion. And eating quickly (even if you chew well) causes stress.

When I’m talking to a client I use my hands to explain the contrast between quick chewing and eating well. When I make snappy chewing movements with one hand and slow chewing movements with the other it’s easy to get the message across. I can’t do that here so this is the next best thing. 

Let’s take Katy and Amina as an example. 

They both decide to chew each mouthful 10 times. But Katy is a quick eater and chews twice as fast as Amina. Amina takes 10 seconds to chew each mouthful but Katy only takes 5 seconds. So although they both chewed the same number of times - Amina, who chewed slowly, had the food in her mouth for twice as long as Katy. Amina will have felt more relaxed as she ate and her saliva had twice as long to get to break down the carbohydrates in whatever she was eating. So Amina is less likely to suffer from bloating than Katy. 

If that read like a year 5 math’s problem. 

Ignore it. 

Just remember that when it comes to digestion chewing slowly is better that chewing quickly.