How You Eat Is A Habit

Hey there. I’m Suzy Wraines, Habit Coach for Women.  I focus on helping women overcome procrastination and proactive mindset around habits.  Today I’m going to write about, how you eat, which makes a huge difference in how you feel. How we eat has more of an impact on storing fat then we know.  If we don’t slow down when we eat, our body doesn’t tell us we are full in enough time to stop fat storage. If we overeat it is because we are eating too fast.  Thanksgiving is the best example. We eat this huge meal, usually fast because we waited all day to eat. Then a few minutes later, pain. We are too full.  

Do you think about how you eat? We are busy people and we’re running around crazy all the time. Now’s a good time to talk about it. Because we’re home we have time. Usually, we’re eating in the car or between things. We’re driving through the drive-thru and, eating on the run. Something to think about to curb cravings is to be mindful when you eat.

This means that looking at your food, smelling your food, having a place to actually eat. Before there were drive-thru, delivery, and convenience food, we would sit down to a meal and enjoy it.  Life wasn’t so busy. Guess what, the obesity rate was lower. The reason we took more time to east. I’m guilty of grabbing my food and bring it to my desk. We all eat too fast for our bodies to catch up.  When I grab my food and eat at my desk, I’m eating without paying attention to how fast. This causes me to chew less and my digestion to be off. 

There are chemical reactions that go off at different points of digestion.  When you smell your food, that’s the first digestive point. When you see food this triggers chemicals to release causing hunger.  Have you ever seen a commercial and you think that looks good? Whatever it is, on the television you want. Your eyes tell your body, I’m getting ready to eat. This starts a hunger response. Now when you smell food, it triggers chemical reactions for your saliva to start working.

The first point of digestion is in your mouth. Chewing your food starts the digestive process breaking down food with saliva. During chewing, food is being broken down and chemicals released in your stomach. What makes this so important is there are also chemicals telling your brain you like the food or not.  Habits start with a trigger, routine, and reward. When you enjoy a food that is a reward reinforcing the habit. 

So far I have talked about finding a place to eat where you can sit down and go slow.  We addressed enjoying your food. Look at it and smell it. Now I will talk about chewing.  It may sound silly to think about chewing. Don’t we do that without thinking? Yes, we do. Chewing your food is a habit.  Do you know on average how many times people chew their food before swallowing? Three to five times. Not very much. When I habit coach women, I have them try chewing their food at least fifteen to twenty times per bite.  Try it. It’s hard to do. The reason this task is challenging is we chew our food as a habit. Our swallow reflex is a habit. To create a habit to chew more, start with one meal. During that meal every day, count how many times you chew your bites.  Set your utensils down and chew. Make yourself count while you chew. If you don’t count you will forget to chew longer.

This is a challenge but easy to do if you remember.  The key is remembering to do it. As children, we learned to chew our food. Every day for how many years have you chewed your food this way?  When I first started counting my chewing I had to remind myself to do it. I recommend setting an alarm on your phone at the time you eat “chew 20 times.”  You’re going to notice your swallow instinct is going to kick in sooner than 15 to 20 times on some things. You have to push past it because your swallow instinct is a habit. Over your lifetime your habit is to bite three to five times, then swallow.  Even if your food wasn’t chewed enough. After you have been doing this for a while it will become natural to chew longer.

So what I like to tell people is test counting on a piece of cheese, fruit, or cracker. Pick something you like to snack on. First, look at it and smell it.  Now take a bite and count while chewing. Notice how that feels. Did you want to swallow before the count of fifteen? That’s okay if you did. Push passed that feeling and keep chewing.  Notice if the flavor or texture changes. Are you noticing the flavor change? When I did this for the first time I realized I didn’t like the flavor of the snack I was chewing. Before I thought I liked it.  The more I chewed it I realized I didn’t care for the flavor or texture.

After doing the test, pick a focused meal where you chew more at that meal every time.  I picked my breakfast. This allows me to focus for breakfast. At breakfast, I’m reminded to slow down and chew.  This allows me to be successful and learn without giving up. Remember, you are creating a new habit. It takes time and consistency.  When you try the chewing test, I would love to hear your comments on how it went. Post a comment telling us what you ate and how it was for you. 

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About Me

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Suzy writes each of the blog articles based on experiences she has had with coaching women around habits they want to improve.  Many of the articles come from common topics women are asking questions about.  If you have a request for an article please comment what you would like to learn more about.

Suzy Wraines

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