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Chewing Your Food


Minimizing the weight of foodstuff to bring during long trips, taking vitamin-mineral pills and protein powdered-drinks are just part of the solution to staying well nourished. A key point is to maximize the utilization of whatever food we eat.

Remember that adage drilled into us during the elementary school years (it was during my time) about chewing your food at least 20 times before swallowing? Well, it still applies, but most particularly when we are on limited food supply by choice or by necessity.

This tip has to do with two facts about eating:
Digestion starts in the mouth;
Hunger pangs are both nutrition-driven and ‘feel-driven.’
The body sends hunger signals when it lacks nutrients it could normally get via the act of eating. Choosing the right food and supplements to bring should initially take care of this nutrition-driven hunger-pangs. Chewing food very well should complete the satisfaction of this hunger and as well take care of the ‘feel-driven’ hunger.

Chewing food very well until these are well masticated to about a third of original size allows the salivary enzymes to do the job of pre-digesting these before it enters the stomach. The tougher the food, the more it has to be chewed very well (e.g., meats, nuts and raw foods). The practice has several benefits:
It allows one to savor the food very well, especially if it is good tasting;
It allows the stomach to do its job of extracting nutrients more efficiently, i.e., more nutrition with less food. ;
There is less probability of suffering indigestion which brings not only discomfort but is also a waste of food.;
It gives the stomach more time to send signals to the brain that it has had its fill.
Since there is a time lag from when the stomach is actually full to when the brain receives the signal, fast eaters have the tendency to over-eat.

Over-eating is a waste of food since, at best, the body will not be able to fully extract the nutrients before passing these on, and at worse could result in bloated feelings and even physical disgorgement (throwing up) and hard stool.

Note that the practice of chewing food very well is one of the usually unsaid components of good diet plans. It is not enough to choose the right food combinations, the mechanical act of eating must also be done right. Unfortunately, in a rush-rush world, the practice, or art, of eating elegantly (I say this not refererring to the choice of chinaware or silverware), of chewing well, and savoring each mouthful (remember that taste buds are in the mouth, not in the stomach) has been lost.

One last note: It is easier and comfortable to chew well when the spoonfulls are not so full.