Tuesday, October 10, 2017

"Hey man, what's the rush??

If you're a person of a certain age, you may remember fun PSA's like the one below whilst watching Saturday morning cartoons....

It might've seemed juvenile at the time but those PSA's still ring true 30 years later especially when it comes to importance of slowing down and chewing your food.  I always thought I did just fine in that area, after all, the Mr was the one who always proclaimed himself the fast eater.  Sometimes I would be shocked at how fast he ate on occasion like if we'd done a particularly hard workout.  I'd be just as hungry too but he could be halfway done when I was barely into my veggies.  (We make a point to eat our veggies first just like grandma's for generations have been telling us!)  Well, on occasion I would notice I was swallowing hard or not even remember eating a meal because I had stuff I needed to get done.  I'm actually eating lunch as I type this and last night I had a horrifying reveal the night before.  I don't chew my food properly.  If I'm eating something crunchy I tend to chew everything properly like say celery or apple slices.  But everything else?  At times, I've been one and done.  Yep. I caught myself last night taking a bite of something at dinner, meaning I stuck it in my mouth, chomped and swallowed.  For the love of God, no wonder I only "vacate" 2-3x per week!!! Something I noticed from time to time in the past was when I took a bite of an entree or more specifically meat, my tongue had this tendency to toss the first chew into the back of my throat.  Like to a point where it was basically irretrievable so I had no choice but to swallow it whole unless I wanted to yarf it from back there and I think the Mr wouldn't appreciate that bovine trick.

So a few weeks ago, I made a point to start really paying attention to each bite I took and chewing until there were no lumps left in each bite.  I also focused on intentionally keeping each bite at the front or side of my mouth so I had control over it.  I don't know if that even makes sense that half a bite can just automatically go to the back of your throat but it does for me.  I don't know if I learned that really young and just never paid attention but now I'm going to have to totally relearn how to eat. I know you're not supposed to eat while doing other things like watching TV or surfing the web but I think most of us just do.  No one really wants to sit there in silence while eating and if you work from home together, you pretty much know how each others day was so there probably wouldn't be a whole lot of chatter.  Although who knows, maybe we should turn off the tube when we're eating too. I just finished a typical lunch for me which is a fruit salad, raw veggies and some tuna fish with 5 whole grain crackers.  I'm actually full.  This is a meal that would have me feeling somewhat hungry again by the time we go to workout or at least knowing that I would be famished by the end of it.  I don't know that this meal has ever filled me up under normal circumstances so this is actually very encouraging.

In doing some research about chewing food just to see what the internet has to say about it, here are the things I've found:

1)  Just the act of chewing signals the body to begin digestion.  It ramps up the saliva to lubricate the food and move it efficiently down your esophagus.  (How many of us have scraped said esophagus with a bite of food we didn't chew enough first?)  It signals the stomach and pancreas to get ready to break everything down and even relaxes the lower stomach muscles.

2)  It allows you to actually absorb the nutrition from the food you're eating.  You know how you eat apples for the fiber and carrots for Vitamin A and sweet potatoes for beta-carotene?  Well, those things don't get absorbed when the body has to work too hard to break down what you didn't chew so it gets flushed on down the line and you get up to 50% less absorption!

3)  Not chewing food properly can result in acid reflux, weight gain, gas and even moodiness from the gas because it's painful and yes Virginia....constipation.

No, this isn't rocket science and are probably things we already know in the back of our minds but don't think about it when we're eating.  Life is so rushed and we're trying to cram so much stuff into a day that it's no wonder we're cramming our food in as well.  I know I've talked about this subject before but the whole chew or two that I've been noticing lately is just too scary for me to ignore.  I mean one of the scariest episodes of Six Feet Under to me was Emily Previn who was just a normal lady, doing her crossword puzzle eating her TV dinner and she choked on a piece of food, died and no one found her for a week.  I can relate to the no one finding her because we can go literally months without hearing from people.  We had a situation where we were without power for a week and seriously, no one came despite our house being on the news as ground zero for an event.  So if that episode scares me so bad, why on Earth would I up my chances of dying the same way?!

It's been a few weeks and the Mr has gotten on board with it.  We've said out loud before each meal, "eat slowly!"  It's very hard especially when you're super hungry and just want to inhale.  I will feel a little more full but I have to say I have a side effect I didn't particularly care for...getting hungry sooner.  If I eat at noon, I can start getting painfully hungry by 4-4:30pm and before I could easily go for six hours or so with no problem and I very rarely got hunger pain but I'm getting them now.  I'm trying to drown them with water when I feel them which might stave it off for about 15-20 minutes.  I'm proud of us for attempting to finally slay this dragon because it's been a lifelong problem for him and a more recent problem for me trying to juggle a lot work wise.  It's not like I'm eating more but I need to get on a 'regular' schedule if you get my drift.

So chewing my food, especially my entree or bigger chunks of food that I'm bad about chewing thoroughly has got to be my focus.  Obviously, it helps actually feeling full sooner too and that can help with weight loss.  I need to make sure that the first bite doesn't get rocketed to the back of my throat so I'm not tempted to swallow it like I have been.  I know this will take time to be a habit but I really think so many things could improve if I just buckle down and make it my default.

Do you rush through your meals or chew your food less than you should?

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  1. I tend to rush, but I do try to slow down when I eat at home. At work I have less than 30 minutes for lunch, way less on the days I have lunch duty. I joke about having to choose between eating or peeing (sorry) on duty days. By the time I heat up my meal or stand in line for school lunch there isn't much time left for "unecessary" things like chewing. That carries over to meals at home if I'm not careful and conscious of what I'm doing.

  2. It depends on what the food is. If its a hearty piece of meat or a bagel, I will take my time. If it is a piece (many pieces) of candy, I will get those in my belly as fast as possible. But this post will definitely make me think more about how I am eating going forward.

  3. I eat way too fast and have since I was little. It was a learned behavior as I was the one who had to clear the table, serve dessert, and wash the dishes. So I had to eat fast to start those duties, and sadly, I never learned to slow down. I'm trying to be more mindful of it now, and it helps that I've had to change the order I eat too. I eat my protein and non-starchy vegetables/fats before I touch any carbs because it slows the absorption of the carbs that way to keep my blood sugars steady. So that has helped me to slow down because I really have to pay attention to my plate more than in the past.


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