If weight loss is on your 2018 resolution list, but the well-known methods are known to, well, not work (I’m winking here – dieting!), what a girl/boy to do?! It looks like a dead end, but it’s not – if it took you a while to gain the weight, it’ll take just as long, if not longer, to lose it, so brace yourself and start the “baby-steps” journey of eating mindfully, incorporating more veggies and plant foods in your diet, cooking more at home and… chewing your food longer!
That’s right, chewing each bite at least 30 times and for as long as 100 will turn solid foods into liquid, which will be swallowed without effort. This method was introduced by an American physiologist and self-taught nutritionist Dr. Horace Fletcher at the beginning of the 20th century, who was once diagnosed with obesity, cardio-vascular disease and digestive issues. He managed to reverse his conditions and achieve great health by increasing the time he chewed his food. Proclaimed The Great Masticator, Dr. Fletcher noticed, when comparing 35 with 10 chews per mouthful, we showed that higher chewing counts reduced food intake despite increasing chewing speed, and despite doubling meal duration for achieving a subjective reference point for feeling ‘comfortably full’. He also noticed improved digestion – he suggested there was less mechanical work requirement applied to the digestive organs, therefore the process got a lot smoother.
Fletcher experimented with 2 groups of army men – overweight officers and underweight soldiers. He prescribed identical meal plan for both groups and instructed them to chew their food as per his protocol. Results were astonishing! While the first group managed to lose weight, the second one gained and restored their weight back to normal healthy numbers. A big fan and devoted follower of Fletcher’s method was a famous millionaire John Rockefeller, who lived till 98 years old.
The benefits of properly chewed food were well known to yogis from the great Orient, who suggested that digestion and even energy metabolism of food starts in the mouth. Only the food well processed by the teeth and saliva will be assimilated and broken down into absorbable nutrients, benefitting your body and health. Yogis chew their food 100-200 times each bite and some professional “chewers” can easily satisfy their hunger with just 1 banana or a slice of bread.
A study published in Elsevier in 2013 suggested that longer chewing at meal times reduced later snack consumption. (1) Another study found that eating slowly at mealtimes led to eating less during those same meals. (2) That reminds me of a 20 min rule – you know, the one that says wait 20 min after eating to reach full satisfaction. While you might not have 20 min to wait before asking for helpings, you can just slow down the rate at which you eat, and satisfaction will come naturally with a much less portion. The biggest challenge in my experience is actually remembering to chew more. Set a reminder on your phone and do it for 21 days – the time it takes to develop new habits… and watch the extra weight fall off!