- Rhonda Keagy, FNTP
Take the Almond Test
“Chew your food!” You probably heard your mother tell you to do this when you were a kid. What she meant was “Slow down and chew thoroughly”. Why? Because chewing thoroughly is a necessity for proper digestion. You may think that digestion starts in your stomach, but the physical activity of digestion actually starts with chewing. When you chew your food and pulverize it in your mouth first, several things happening:
Thorough chewing starts the saliva process that activates your PALS enzymes in your digestive organs – protease to breakdown protein, amylases to digest carbs and lipases to digest fats. Rushing through this part of digestion can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and you will not get all the nutrients your food has to offer. In addition, if large chunks of food go through your gut your digestive system cannot break them down and is more likely to store that food as unwanted fat down the line.
Thorough chewing is alerting the brain to communicate that nutrients are coming to the digestive system. The brain is not a super-fast communicator – you have to give it time to make the connection and chewing allows for that time and communication before you swallow the food down.
Thorough chewing can help you eat less and may actually help you to lose weight, which is a hot concern for many. 1
So how do you accomplish this “thorough chewing”?
- Only eat when you are truly hungry
- Take the time to smell your food before biting
- When the food hits your mouth, pay attention to the texture and savor the flavor of the food on your tongue BEFORE swallowing
Now, start chewing……...a lot!
Don’t look at chewing as a chore, but actually as a block of time in which you can meditate and be thankfulness for your food and for your teeth as they do their job. For a list of other things that thorough chewing benefits within the digestive system, just give me a shout out and I will “share the science”. In the meantime, if you want to improve your chewing, and thus your digestion, try The Almond Test below.
The Almond Test
Give yourself a break to try this exercise. Pour out a quarter cup of almonds (or any other type of nut or crunchy snack item – try not to make it a processed food though 😊. Take a whiff, look at the shape of the almond (Does it look like an eye? It is a food that is excellent for your eyes! Ironic, hunh?). 2
Now take a few almonds and pop them into your mouth – BUT WAIT – don’t start chewing yet.
Feel the texture of the almonds on your tongue. Anticipate the crunch they will make when you do take a bite. Now, go ahead and chew.
Chew about 5 times and then stop. Once again notice the texture and feel of the food in your mouth. Start chewing again and this time, start counting.
If you are used to eating quickly, start by chewing the almonds about 10-15 times before you swallow. Each time you take a mouthful, attempt to increase your chewing to about 35-45 times before you actually swallow. At first you may feel like you have a mouth full of mush after 25 chews, but that is what you want. The more that mush is mixed around in your mouth, the more the PALS are signaled to activate for the digestion process of the incoming nutrients in your gut.
Consider expanding your “test” to your next meal and see if you notice a difference in the way you feel about eating.
If you take this test, I would love to hear your feedback. Let me know what you notice about eating the almonds and how you feel about slowing down your digestion process from the start to ensure a better outcome. Email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org