I love simple tricks for staying healthy. It’s a big part of Your Healthy Home Biz and Fit Family Together.
And when it comes to weight loss, chewing is one of the simplest and most effective things you can do.
See, when you thoroughly chew your food, you perform a mental trick as well . . . Or maybe it’s that you actually stop tricking your brain.
When you take your time to eat, you give your brain time to catch up to what your body’s doing.
When you put your food on the express train, your brain can barely process that you’ve eaten. You’re still taking in food, long after your stomach is full simply because your brain hasn’t grasped how much you’ve taken in.
When you slow down, it gives your brain time to take in messages from all over that your body is getting food. It’s noticing just the physical act of eating, chewing and swallowing. And the hormones that signal your brain that your stomach is full have time to travel through the bloodstream to the brain and get the message there.
Here’s another piece to it. When you really savor your food – roll it around on your tongue, taste the full sensation – the beginning flavor, the middle flavor and the end flavor, you gain incredible satisfaction. Undeniably we eat for the sensual experience as well. So make it that. Enjoy it and signal your body that you’re deriving some satisfaction from your food.
Not only that, keep noting how you feel after a good but moderate meal. See if you feel lighter, more energetic, more alert, more satisfied with yourself.
By focusing your attention on this experience you’re training your brain to feel fulfilled by this new way of eating. Over time, this signaling becomes routine. It becomes the standard that your mind seeks when eating. A different kind of satisfaction than feeling stuffed. And it becomes self-reinforcing.
Do the same thing when you do go and have a chocolate brownie, or down some fries and a burger, take note of how you feel. Do you feel good or bad?
True confessions: I used to be a total chocoholic. I grew up eating Ben and Jerry’s all the time, chocolates hid in my desk drawer. I depended on chocolate to “feel good”. It was one of the first things I turned to when I needed something to pick me up, energize me or help me through a stressful project.
I always had some chocolate on hand.
When I started turning my attention to how I really felt after eating chocolate ice cream, the experience wasn’t so pleasant. I had a slightly bitter aftertaste in my mouth from the sugar and I felt kind of thirsty and a little achy-headed after eating. It wasn’t terrible – but I certainly wasn’t feeling great after that initial taste sensation.
Occasionally, I still have a little chocolate. I actually enjoy cocoa powder mixed into plain yogurt with a little maple syrup and almonds. (My kids think I’m nuts).
But it’s not a craving like it used to be. And truthfully, I don’t even want this “treat” that much because sometimes I can just feel my body doesn’t want it. And I can sense how I’ll feel afterwards. It’s become instinctive that I don’t want that feeling I’ve come to expect after eating something sweet and chocolatey.
The more you focus on the complete eating experience – the smell, the entire taste sensation, and the after effects – the more you will start to instinctively want good-for-you foods and avoid bad-for-you foods.
And chewing your food thoroughly is a great way to help you do this.
Now I’ll be frank, I used to be the fastest chewer in the East. My husband jokes that I eat like a vacuum cleaner. (I attribute it to eating with toddlers around!)
But over time I’ve slowed my pace and it’s amazing the difference in how much I eat, how full I feel and how I actually notice my food in a whole new way.
It becomes easy. Trust me, this works. It may take a while to reroute old brain paths. But as a reformed chocoholic and speed-chewer I can vouch that this does indeed work.
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