When I was a little girl, my parents would often yell at me for not chewing my food enough.
I never understood why chewing was so important. My mission was to get my food in my belly; to quickly curb any hunger I was experiencing.
That mission is still true to this day, but more on the lines of preventing “hangryness.” But my parents were right from the start.
Chewing your food more not only encourages you to enjoy the taste of your meal for longer, but it may help you lose weight.
The average person chews just six times before swallowing a mouthful, according to a survey conducted by Subway.
But experts at Westchester University of Pennsylvania suggest chewing 30 to 50 times per mouthful, while experts at Ohio State University suggest chewing softer foods five to 10 times, and more dense foods up to 30 times before swallowing.
That seems like a lot of chewing, but it's not impossible.
As opposed to my normal 10-ish chews of an apple slice, I tried chewing a bite 30 times, which felt strange, but was something I could see myself doing more.
But why should I? Plenty of reasons.
It helps with weight loss.
It takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the signal from your stomach that it is full.
We often gulp down our food without realizing how much we are eating.
Chewing for a longer time will slow down your eating and give more time for your brain to get the “I'm full” signals. One study even found women reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.
This ultimately controls portion sizes and decreases caloric intake, and there are numerous studies to support this.
Another study conducted by researchers at Harbin Medical University in China found those who chewed each mouthful roughly 40 times ate 12 percent less than those who chewed 15 times.
It promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption.
When you chew, your body releases digestive enzymes and saliva in your mouth to help break down the food.
Chewing also sends a message to your gastrointestinal system to let it know food is on the way, triggering acid production to further help with digestion.
Moreover, the more you chew a food, the more nutrients you get from it.
One study found that when participants chewed almonds longer, more nutrients were absorbed by the body.
This is important to know for those trying to incorporate more of something in their diets.
For example, the same study confirmed longer chewing helps the body absorb more protein to help with muscle development.
And remember, the more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to burn fat.
If you're convinced, but are worried you won't be able to keep track of your chewing, have no fear. There's an app for that.
Citations: How Many Times Should You Chew Your Food? (Health Extremist), Chew each mouthful of food 40 TIMES to help lose weight (Daily Mail), Eating slowly DOES help you lose weight: People who chew their food properly and sip water consume nearly 100 fewer calories per meal (Daily Mail), Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women (Journal of the American Dietetic Association), 7 Important Reasons to Properly Chew Your Food (Mercola.com), How Chewing Affects Nutrition (Nutrition Diva), How many times must chew food to lose weight? (HagopScoop), Effect of bite size and oral processing time of a semisolid food on satiation (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition), Chew more to retain more energy (Science News)