Strategies for making lifestyle changes: Slow down and chew thoroughly

This is one thing I need to keep working on: slow down when I eat.  I eat too fast and maybe you do too?  It's not a good thing.  The food we swallow should be well chewed so that it is liquid when we swallow it.


The first part of digestion begins in the mouth.  This is where the enzyme amylase, in saliva, is mixed with starches and their breakdown begins.  If you put food in your mouth and swallow it without proper chewing, you've missed this first step of digestion and the body has a harder time digesting that food later.

Yes, I know all the excuses: "I like my food hot. If I eat it slowly it'll be cool by the time I've finished". But if you are eating your food fast, after the first mouthful, you don't even taste it, never mind being aware of its temperature.

Or then there is "I don't have time to eat it slowly".  Well, we all need to make time.  It takes just a few extra minutes to properly chew a meal as opposed to wolf it down quickly.


Take some food into your mouth and chew it for at least 30 chews.  The more you practice, the easier it gets.

Here are some studies to consider:

  • Research conducted at the university of Pennsylvania determined that diners consumed more overall food and calories when they sped up their eating pace and consumed fewer calories when they slowed down.
  • Research on thousands of Japanese office workers showed that fast eaters ate more calories than slow eaters, tended to gain more weight, and were more likely to have insulin resistance.
  • Research shows that there is a lag in time from when you have consumed enough food to trigger fullness and when you actually feel a sense of fullness. The more slowly you eat, the more time you have for the fullness signal from your stomach to reach your brain.

So how can you practice this skill?  Here are some ideas
  1. Change something at the table where you normally eat - for example, put a candle or ornament on the table. When you see that, it'll trigger a reminder to slow down.  Each night, put something different on the table - it can be something nice or something odd like a ruler or box - anything that catches your eye and makes you stop and think.
  2. Put down your utensils between mouthfuls or if it is something you are eating with your hands, put the food down between mouthfuls.
  3. Don't fill up your fork until you've finished what is in your mouth.
  4. Eat without distractions. If the television is on, or you are reading - you tend to eat quicker - so slow down and think about the taste of each mouthful.
  5. Put a clock or timer on the table and watch just how fast you normally eat.  Then chew 30 times and see how long this takes.  Seeing the clock go round is a great reminder to slow down.
Not only will these slow down tactics help you eat smaller quantities, it'll also help your digestion.

The "chew" idea is also important with foods like smoothies.  A large part of smoothies is carbohydrates and starches, so when you "drink" your smoothie, make sure you also swish it around your mouth, and use chew like action with your teeth, so the saliva can start its amylase enzyme reaction to breakdown that carbohydrate.

Let's start with our next meal or snack.  Put something on the table now to remind you.  Lets give amylase a chance!
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An apple a day...... (Part 1)

....keeps the doctor away.


  • In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was shown to be consistently associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared to other fruits.  In one of the studies, Finnish researchers followed more than 5,000 men and women for more than 20 years.  Those who ate the most apples and other flavonoid rich foods such as onions, were found to have a 20% lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the smallest amount of these foods.

Harold enjoying his "lady" apple!

  • Apples are rich in a soluble fibre known as pectin, which has been shown to exert a number of beneficial effects.  Because it is a gel-forming fiber, pectin can lower cholesterol levels as well as improve the intestinal muscle's ability to push waste through the gastrointestinal tract.

One medium unpeeled apple contains 3 g of fiber. Even without its peel it contains 2.7g of fiber.

Just adding one large apple to the daily diet has been shown to decrease serum cholesterol by 8 - 11 % Two apples a day has been shown to lower your cholesterol by 16%.




  • Apples also contain malic and tartaric acids, which improve digestion and the breakdown of fats - so combining an apple with fattier food like apple sauce with pork, or apple slices with cheese, not only tastes good but helps the body deal with the fat intake.


  • Apples are helpful in the relief of the pain of gout, rheumatism and arthritis - and also help you feel better the morning after too much drinking!

An apple on our tree last year was "picked" by one of the tendrils of the grape vines!


  • They are great to eat if you have diarrhea and are one of the 4 components of the BRAT diet used for diarrhea or food poisoning - with BRAT standing for Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast.

  • Apples are also a good source of Vitamin C and potassium.  Most of the apple's important nutrients are contained in its skin - so eating them raw and with their skin is best. 



They are a wonderful substitute in cooking and baking for oils.  In my salad dressings I replace oil with unsweetened organic apple sauce and in my baking, I frequently use applesauce to replace the oil.  Not only do I benefit from no oil, but I also benefit from eating the apple!

We have several apple trees (- an old proverb says " if you can plant only one tree in your garden, make it an apple tree")  and too many to eat when they are all ripe. So I dehydrate them.  I often leave the skin on, slice them and don't feel the need to use lemon juice. The idea is that we can then enjoy them year round but this year I think we had eaten them all by Christmas - and we had a lot!  Dried apples are a lovely snack....and you can now buy freeze dried apples which have a lovely crunch.

Have you had your apple today?
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