I’ve been thinking about chewing lately. Some people chew with their mouths open. Their mothers are not happy. My Grandpa chewed anything and everything without any teeth. He only wore his teeth on Sunday to church. The rest of the week he was toothless. Having always known him as toothless it seemed perfectly normal to me. And even without teeth he had the best smile and laugh. He told lots of jokes and always said the punch line twice and then he would just cackle. Thinking about him makes me laugh.
Babies have rubber gums. Breastfeeding moms are very glad babies don’t have teeth. And when they start getting those teeth it can be a painful experience for Mom.
I am hoping that I will get to the point soon but I am having such a good time talking about toothlessness it seems a shame to move on. Anyway, teeth are very important to our diet and chewing is even more important. I won’t go into the gory details about mastication but teeth chew up food and provide bursting-flavor-sensations in our mouths. This is the first step in the digestive process. In our hurried society we almost skip this step.
As a dietitian I am often faced with a patient suffering from low blood sugar. My job is to give the patient a quick surge of sugar to stop the decline. The standard care process is to give the patient 15 grams of carbohydrate and then retest the blood sugar after 10-15 minutes. (See, its lots more fun talking about teeth; big teeth, little teeth, red teeth, blue teeth, teeth teeth teeth…sorry.)
So anyway, what does all of this jabber mean?
IT TAKES AT LEAST 10-15 MINUTES FOR YOUR BRAIN TO REGISTER YOU HAVE BEGUN EATING and for the food to just start trickling into your blood stream! (And some people’s brains work slower than others- please see Blog on our favorite politicians.)
So, let’s look at this typical scenario. You work a long day. You are hungry. You stop at your favorite Mexican restaurant. They bring a basket of chips. You look at the menu while munching on chips. In 10 short minutes you have just consumed 1000 calories of fried chips and your brain doesn’t even know you started eating yet. You have just sabotaged your healthy diet in ten minutes.
Now back to the teeth thing.
Your Mom not only told you to chew with you mouth closed she also told you not to gulp your food. There is an old Weight Watcher’s trick: chew each bite of food 20 times before swallowing. It gives your brain a chance to catch up (unless you are a politician, then it might take an extra hour or so) and your satiety hormones will have time to kick in and tell you that you are getting full.
So, for heaven’s sake CHEW your food WITH your mouth closed, please. You will feel full and you will eat less and your weight will be more controlled.
And if you need an extra pair of teeth I think I have my Grandpa’s in a box somewhere……
Blog by Glenna Moe, Kansas City Dietitian