For that reason, when people ask me how they can lose body fat, I say the two magic words ...
As they stare at me in a combination of disbelief and disappointment, I tell them I will not lend them any other advice until they prove to me that they have made this a habit.
Why am I focusing on this one habit?
Why am I no longer telling them to drink more water, eat less carbs, or get a full 8 hours of sleep?
1. I believe focusing on more than one habit drastically reduces your chances of success.
2. I believe chewing slowly is a "keystone habit" that will eventually start a chain reaction towards developing several other good habits.
Why should we chew slowly?
1. Improved Digestion
"Digestion Starts In Your Mouth"
Contrary to popular belief, digestion starts in the mouth and not in your stomach.
The saliva that starts to dribble out of your mouth as the waiter heads to your table with the big tray holding your 24-oz cowboy ribeye steak is actually the first step in the digestive process.
We salivate when we see, smell, or even think about eating because saliva has enzymes that help break down your food and moisten your mouth for swallowing.
And just because I said saliva helps swallowing, it still doesn't mean you eat your meal like an orca.
As you are salivating, your stomach and intestines are also doing things to prepare for the food that they are expecting. If you eat too quickly, the food will get there before your GI tract is ready.
It's almost like you are throwing a party and your guests show up while you are still in the shower (or fighting with your wife about how to set-up the chairs around the dining room table).
By chewing, you not only give your stomach and intestines more time to prepare for the food, it also helps the food get to them in a broken down manageable form as opposed to big gigantic lumps.
2. Helps You Eat Until You Are Satisfied
"Eat Until You Are Satisfied, Not Until You Are Full"
- Every Great Nutritionist
As I mentioned earlier, chewing slowly is a "keystone habit" as it enables other great habits. One of those great habits is eating until you are satisfied and not until you need a crane to airlift you from the table.
Growing up, I knew the old adage that it took your brain about 20 minutes to let your body know it was full. And for many, many stupid reasons, I wanted to eat as fast as possible to make sure that wouldn't happen.
It was almost as if I didn't want my brain to deprive me of eating those last two slices of pizza ... because not eating those last two slices of pizza would make me a quitter ... and I was not raised to be a quitter.
Now imagine if you actually took a full 20 minutes. Think about how much less you would eat during that one sitting.
Now imagine if you did that over the course of the entire day. How much less would you have eaten?
Now imagine you did this over you entire life. Would you be reading this article while a group of paparazzi were taking pictures of your six pack.
3. Helps You Enjoy Your Meal
"I Guess You Didn't Like It"
- Every Waiter who comes to take my plate that is completely empty in 10 seconds
For a person who loves to eat, I never really took enough time to actually taste the food I was shoveling down my throat.
I knew it tasted good as I was devouring it, but I really wasn't enjoying it.
By chewing slowly, I am gaining an entirely new appreciation for how good food actually is. (Had the Cold Stone by my house not closed, I would drive there right now and appreciate the heck out of a Birthday Cake Remix.)
Ahh ... the missed opportunities.
If you are looking for more detailed articles on the benefits of chewing slowly, I suggest you check out these two links. They go into more detail on the topic, but they are light enough that you don't need 2 degrees from an Ivy League College to understand them.
Find Your Reasons
Before you can fully adapt the habit of chewing slowly, you really need to determine the cause of why you are eating so fast in the first place.
Almost all habitual cues fall into 5 categories.
3. Emotional State
4. People Around You
5. Immediately Proceeding Action
To help you on your journey, I am going to disclose some very personal information (which will no longer be so personal once this article is posted.)
My reasons for eating so fast were seldom based on hunger.
In fact, I was really trying to eat as fast as possible so I could eat as much as possible before I felt "full".
My cues almost always fell into the categories of my Emotional State and the People Around Me.
I wasn't good at many things growing up (or now), but I was good at consuming insane amount of foods.
People would be in awe of how much I could eat and would often brag to their friends about how much of a savage I was. Ever the showman, I felt I had to live up to this standard of "greatness" at any social gathering.
I should also mention that I seldom drink alcohol.
So as my buddies were pounding Coronas at Chevy's, I was eating an OOEY-GOOEY-CHEWY SUNDAE ... thinking it was a much healthier option.
Bottom line, this illogical thinking was / is the reason I eat so fast.
Had I not acknowledged it and come to grips with the fact that I don't need to be the guy who can eat a 96oz steak, I could never have begun my journey on eating more slowly.
Over the past 3 weeks, I have been laser focused on "chewing slowly".
I have lost 10lbs and dropped 1% body fat.
This doesn't sound like a lot, but it's actually pretty significant for a guy pushing 40 who eats clean (albeit fast) and trains religiously.
If you are already eating slowing, find another bad habit to fix.
But ... if you are like the majority of people I know, starting to "chew slowly" is something you should begin working on right now.
I mean that literally.
Here is what you should do.
1. Find the cue causing you to eat fast.
2. Right before your next meal say out loud "Chew Slowly"
3. Cut up ONE bite sized piece of food (do not cut up all of your food at once)
4. Place the one bite into your mouth and begin chewing
5. Put the fork down
6. Do not pick up the fork again until every bit of food is out of your mouth.
7. Repeat steps 2-7 until you feel satisfied (not full)
If you come up with any tips or tricks along the way, please share them on the blog.
Here are some that our athletes shared already
- Eat with your left hand (if you are right-handed)
- Make your protein shake with very little water, so you have to eat it with a spoon
- Text someone who knows you are doing this "chew slowly" before every meal.
- If eating with other people, make it a goal to always be the last one done.