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Chew Thy Food

Chew Thy Food

Chew Thy Food

[breakfast this morning: silverbeet and cacao quinoa porridge…sounds odd, but was surprisingly delicious! See recipe below]

I eat slow. Like reeeeeeeeally slow. Like so slow that during family dinners on Sunday nights the rest of the family grow impatient and leave the table before I finish. Yep, I get left on my lonesome at the dinner table, still a-chewing my food. I think my family should grow some table manners and accompany me until I finish. What do you think?

I’ve always been like this. Ever since I was a little girl. It’s a running joke in my family how snail-slow I feast. It wasn’t ever a conscious decision. Just the way I am. Mind you, since being married to Chris, and with little children, my eating habits have ramped up somewhat in speed (if I don’t eat my food quick enough, either Chris, Poppy or Elsie will steal it!).

I chew slow. I chew a lot. I savour my food. I enjoy.

Even though I got picked on (in a loving way) for eating slow, I knew it was good for the metabolism (or so I’d been told by my granny), so I didn’t see a need to change my ways (or get indigestion) in hopes of catching up with the rest of my family.

There are STACKS of health benefits associated with eating slow. Here are some sciencey facts:

Phases of Digestion

There are three phases of digestion – the  cephalic phase, the gastric phase and the intestinal phase. The second phase – the gastric phase – is a period in which swallowed food activates gastric activity in the stomach, while the third phase – the instestinal phase – occurs in the duodenum (small intestine), moderating gastric activity via hormones and nervous reflexes. It is the first phase – the cephalic phase – however, that I’d like to focus on.

The first phase of digestion occurs even before food enters the stomach. When you think about food, see it, smell it, taste it and chew it, the brain sends signals to the stomach which activates gastric secretion (stomach juices essential for digesting food). This phase (the phase before food even enters the stomach) accounts for 20% of gastric secretion, and prepares the stomach to receive food. It only occurs when we want or like food, and is heightened if we are actually hungry.

If you’re not in the mood for food – if you’re angry, upset, anxious, sick, or just not hungry – you will most probably do damage to your digestive system if you start shoving food into your mouth and gulping it down when your stomach isn’t ready for it. It’s kind of liking hitting a workout when you haven’t warmed up your muscles – at best, you won’t perform very well, at worst, you’ll end up injured.

The cephalic phase of digestion is super important. You want to make sure you concentrate on your food, chew it, savour it, enjoy it  – ultimately, you want to make sure you give your stomach a chance to receive it. Watching TV at dinner time, or shoving it down your gob before you dash off to work, will result in an unready stomach. Do this often and you will majorly strain your digestive system and may potentially cause long-term injury to it.

Related to the digestive phases is the nasty habit of grazing on food throughout the day. Why is it nasty? When you’re constantly sticking food into your mouth because of boredom, addiction or habit, your digestive system isn’t going to work as well as it should be as you’ll be interfering with the neural and hormonal phases associated with digestion. Again, this may cause long-term injury to your digestive system.


Some other reasons why chewing your food and eating slowly is good for you:


When you chew for longer your food is more exposed to your saliva. Saliva contains enzymes that help break down food, making it easier for your stomach and intestines to digest. Chewing food into smaller bits and partly liquefying it also aids digestion as it’s very taxing for your stomach to break down chunky bits of food.

Absorb More Nutrients

When you chew and break down your food into smaller particles, the nutrients in your food become more readily available. By the time the food reaches your intestines, nutrients will be absorbed, rather than passing through your body.

Weight Management

Research shows that the longer you chew and the slower you eat, the better it is for your waistline. It generally takes about 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full. If you rush and eat every morsel in sight, your brain won’t have time to signal you’re full until it’s too late. Take your time and take notice of when your brain tells you you’ve had enough.

Good for your Teeth

Chewing food is a great ‘workout’ for your teeth. Chewing also produces more saliva which can help clear food particles and wash away bacteria from your mouth.

All of this sciencey stuff makes me quite at ease with my slow eating habits.  I shall accept gladly the sniggers as I continue to eat alone at the dinner table…Or, perhaps these little facts might entice some to stay a little longer by my side by their dinner plate as well 🙂


Silverbeet & Cacao Quinoa Porridge

And here’s a random recipe, just because. Breakfast this morning was modified from Sarah Wilson’s  Kale & Cacao Quinoa porridge. I used silverbeet instead because I have stacks of it growing in the garden. The combo sounds odd, but surprisingly it works!


  • 1/4 cup nuts of your choice (I used almonds, walnuts and peanuts).
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut.
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds.
  • 4 silverbeet leaves, destalked.
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa.
  • 1 cup nut milk of your choice (I used raw dairy milk).
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil.
  • 1 tablespoon whey protein powder, optional.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon raw cacao powder.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
  • Natural yogurt


1. Place nuts, coconut, chia seeds and flaxseeds in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Set nut mixture aside.
2. Place silverbeet in food processor and process until finely chopped.
3. Place quinoa, milk and silverbeet in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and add coconut oil, stirring until oil has melted. Add in vanilla powder, if using, and stir to combine
4. Add cacao and cinnamon and stir through. Once porridge is thick remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with nut mixture and serve with yogurt.


Further reading