Chew each bite of food 15 to 20 times. This may sound exaggerated, but it’s a good exercise for everyone who tends to eat quickly. By swallowing mouthfuls of food practically whole you're skipping an important step in the digestive process: chewing mechanically breaks down the food into smaller particles. These mix with saliva, whose enzymes begin the process of breaking down the carbohydrates you’re eating.
Guzzling down food makes it harder for the body to digest it. Acid reflux, flatulence and feeling unpleasantly full are often the result. Thorough chewing can prevent this kind of discomfort. Those who have doubts as to whether they can actually chew the required number of times can practice on an apple or a carrot.
Take time to enjoy each meal ...
Chewing properly makes food easier to digest – and automatically encourages a more relaxed eating behaviour. That’s not always easy in everyday life: meals are usually consumed in a hurry, and eating has long since become something we do incidentally. We eat standing up, while walking and travelling by car or train, even in front of the TV or computer.
These are very bad habits, nutritionists warn us, pointing out how the phrase ‘mealtime’ encapsulates the idea of taking time for meals. Which also means devoting all our attention to the food we are eating.
…and cut calories
The act of focusing on eating can also have a beneficial effect on your figure. You won’t start to feel full until after about 20 minutes. Slow eaters are better at noticing when they’ve had enough. If you actually stop eating the moment you feel full, you won’t consume unnecessary calories.
Super-fast eaters, on the other hand, who gulp down everything on their plate in less than ten minutes, hardly notice the signals their body is sending. A tip for those who tend to eat quickly because they feel ‘absolutely famished’: drink a glass of water or choose a salad with a low-calorie dressing as a starter.
Eating correctly: what’s important
- Make mealtimes special – not just at the weekend or when dining in a restaurant, but also during the week, at home, after work, with friends or family, for example. The fact of coming together to enjoy a meal is what counts most.
- Make sure to eat meals together as a family: parents also act as role models when it comes to eating behaviour. And taking meals together is crucial for emotional bonding.
- Eating peacefully and creating a pleasant ambience is just as important when you’re on your own. Lay the table nicely, light a candle, sit down for 20 to 30 minutes and don't do anything except eat. In other words, don't read the newspaper, don't listen to the news, and turn off your phone and TV.
- Take small bites and put your cutlery down while you chew. Concentrate on what you’re eating: how do the individual ingredients smell and taste? What texture do they have? How do their aroma and consistency change as you chew? All this sharpens the senses – and helps you to enjoy the food consciously.