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3.4.16

To Chew or Not to Chew?

Bite and Chew!


        I suspect that at some stage in our lives we have all been told “Don’t wolf your food! Chew!”. Or an elderly childless relative has reminded an impatient gobbler at the table to “Chew each mouthful 32 times!” or risk indigestion. 

        With the increase in people making protein shakes, smoothies and ‘juicing’ and the availability of the ready made versions I wonder if we are forgetting how to chew? 

        Would you actually eat a banana, an orange, 2tbs milled linseeds, a scoop of protein powder and a tub of yoghurt if it was laid out in front of you? 
But when it is all whizzed up into a smoothie it is all too easy to glug down. 

        This could become a problem, as the machine has done the chewing for you, there is very little saliva mixed into the smoothie which will affect how it is digested in the stomach. Or if you make it earlier in the day for a quick boost later on, the enzymes in the fruit will start to break down the nutrients in the smoothie.

        Then again if this is the only way some people will eat fruit and vegetables, a shot of juice or a smoothie might be the way to go, but they are missing out on the satisfaction of a well deserved break and nourishment while chewing their way through their snack or meal. Having foods in smoothie form may also lead to eating more, due to lack of satiety.

        Chewing is good for us, by chewing we start the digestion process mixing the food with silva which contains enzymes that break down the food and makes it soft and wet. 
Chewing exercises our jaws and strengthens the bones that hold our teeth in place.
Chewing slowly, brings out the flavours of the food, hopefully adding to our enjoyment of the it. The more slowly we eat the sooner we start to feel full, as the brain takes 20 minutes to register what is in our stomachs.

        The Edwardian Chew-Chew diet was based on the philosophy of Horace Fletcher 1849-1919. It can be summed up in his catchy phrase “Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate!”
He was quite keen on people chewing 100 times a minute, but was happy enough to encourage an average of 32 chews per mouthful of food.
He also felt that meals should be enjoyed and mealtimes sociable, encouraging his followers to only eat when hungry, eat what they enjoyed, chew well and stop eating when “the appetite begins to slack up a bit,”
All this takes concentration, being “mindful” even, while eating. 

        The recent trend for chefs to create purées and foams to add to their dishes that include cuts of meat cooked sous vide or long and slow. This food requires little or no chewing to reduce it to a paste before swallowing. While these beautiful plates of food are delicious, each element is carefully chosen to enhance the others on the plate, I fear we may be turning them into flavourful pap for the toothless. While I don't want tough meat I am prepared to chew to break down my food.

        In our fast moving world where time is money and not a minute should be wasted on something as mundane as refuelling the body, perhaps it is no bad thing to take some timeout to chew. 
Maybe while you were reading this you were eating something? Any left? Take a small mouthful and chew 32 times………………………….. 
Well, any difference? 
It’s worth trying even for one mouthful and then maybe another?

        Eating is necessary, so why not take pleasure in it too, sit down, relax and chew!








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