Chewing Your Food Longer Can Help With Weight Loss and More

Chewing food longer and more thoroughly has several benefits. One of those is potential weight loss. Solid food, of course, requires chewing.

In a research study, participants consumed 150 calories prior to serving themselves from a buffet meal. The ones who had been given a pre-meal snack of solid food ate about 150 calories fewer from the buffet, compared with controls.

Those given the 150-calorie snack in liquid form, though, did not decrease their meal size.

Eating fast, taking large bites, and swallowing quickly after less chewing are behaviors that tend to be associated with overeating and higher body weight.

Hard foods (raw broccoli and the like) may decrease bite size, while soft foods (ice cream, cake, pudding) tend to increase bite size. Hard foods also require more chewing, slowing down the meal.

Another study compared pizza chewed 40 times with 15 times per bite. Chewing longer left participants feeling less hungry, less preoccupied with food, and with a decreased desire for food.

Chewing 40 times per bite also increased plasma glucose. That in turn increases insulin, which triggers satiety through a feedback loop. So longer chewing time may decrease food intake at a given meal.

But the longer chewing time did not decrease intake at the next meal, given 3 hours later.

Not surprisingly, longer chewing needs to be repeated at each meal to reduce calorie intake successfully.

Chewing May Increase Dining Pleasure

Chewing is a large part of mindful eating, which includes savoring the aroma, anticipating each bite, and experiencing each bite fully. Longer chewing releases more flavors from foods, and longer contact with the taste buds may lead to greater satisfaction with the meal – as well as a greater sense of fullness and satiety.

All of this can decrease the total amount of food eaten at a meal. The pleasure from a given food decreases during the meal. It’s commonly referred to as the “satiety cascade,” but I learned it in science journals as “aliesthesia,” a decrease in a food’s palatability as hunger subsides.

Staying more aware of the change in taste sensation by chewing longer could focus the meal on quality instead of on quantity. That may be particularly true if and when the meal slows down.

Again, choosing harder foods with crunch and texture will take longer to eat and may contribute to increased satisfaction with the meal.

Increase Your Oral Processing Time (Say What?)

Keep food in your mouth longer. Here are guidelines.

  • Eat when you’re physically hungry so your body is really ready for food.
  • Include plenty of harder, crunchier foods, like vegetables.
  • Take small bites.
  • Don’t chew right away. Hold the food in your mouth for a moment or two before starting to chew.
  • Slow down. The method that seems to work best is to start the meal at a normal rate until the initial hunger has passed. Then slow to about half speed.
  • Chew longer! This may be an individual thing that takes some explanation. Here it is:
    Apparently, we don’t like chewing food more than we have to, and that can vary with a given food. In the pizza study above, researchers postulated that 40 times per bite changed the characteristics of the food enough to make the food less appealing and decrease appetite. Some foods may be thoroughly chewed with fewer chews per bite.

Maybe it’s necessary to get used to this new eating practice by counting at first. Once the habit is there, instead of counting chews per bite, just chew till the texture of the food – not the taste – no longer reveals what the food is. For example, if you can distinguish between a broccoli stalk and a floret in your mouth, you need to keep chewing.

Whatever your reasons for chewing more – better digestion, better health, greater dining pleasure, increased satiety, weight loss – all of them can start with this one change.

“Nature will castigate those who don’t masticate.” – Horace Fletcher (1849-1919)

If you’d like help with eating behaviors and/or nutrition, I’d be happy to help. Please visit and request a free Food Breakthrough Session. It’s free, and there’s no obligation.

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