Non-mindful chewing: A confession about my days in New York City

“Chew your food,” we scolded our kids when they were growing up, “don’t swallow it whole.” Of course, their friends were standing around waiting for them to finish eating so they gobbled it down just a tiny bit slower.

Ever see somebody inhale their food? They don’t even sit down to eat. They’re always in a hurry and so busy, eating seems like a chore they need to do to quell the hunger pangs and they just gulp their food.

Uh… I have to confess I was one of them, especially when I lived in New York City and worked on Madison Avenue. They had those “convenient” places where you could stand up at a counter and eat while watching people walk by the window.

But now that I’ve been living in Taos, New Mexico, and researching how important eating mindfully with thorough chewing is to good digestion and how vital good digestion is to good health and growing younger, I’ve changed my way of eating.

There are 30 million people in the U.S. who suffer from digestive and colon problems and they could be greatly helped by paying attention not only to what they eat, but also how they eat.

The pace here is so much slower so I suspect your digestion is probably better than my friends’ back east. However, we all need reminders so here are some tips for improving your digestion or keeping it at optimum health.


  1. Pray before you eat. It reminds you to acknowledge your blessings and helps you pay attention to the process of eating. And gratitude is great for your health. Studies at HeartMath Institute, a global leader in research on the links among emotions, heart-brain communication and cognitive function, show that practicing the positive emotion of gratitude can actually improve your heart’s rhythmic functioning. Even a short prayer like my kids used to say works: “Rub-dub-dub. Thanks for the grub. Yay, God!” And if you don’t believe in God, then thank nature for providing you with the nourishment.


  1. Chew, chew, chew your food until it is liquid. You might be eating healthy, organic foods but if you’re not chewing it thoroughly, you might get only 5% or 10% of the nutrients. And if you don’t absorb all the nutrients, you could be starving your cells. When Mahatma Ghandi said, “Chew your drink and drink your food,” he meant that digestion begins in your mouth. Your saliva has an enzyme called amylase and when that enzyme mixes with food or beverage, the chemical process of digestion begins. If you don’t chew your food thoroughly, the stomach acids have to work much harder to break down large chunks of food and this can cause stomach distress and mal-absorption of the nutrients.


  1. Cut your food into small chunks and put your fork down between bites. This is something to practice in the beginning until thorough chewing becomes second nature.


  1. Chew your juice or smoothie. Freshly-made juice or smoothie, whether you make it or buy it, is a powerful ingredient for good health. Swishing it in your mouth before swallowing, especially the first mouthful, maximizes the nutrients you absorb.


  1. Be mindful when you eat. Practice being in the present moment. Just as chopping vegetables can be a meditation, so can eating if you totally focus on exactly what you’re doing at the moment. If your mind wanders, just gently bring it back.


  1. Rest a few minutes after eating. This is very important for good digestion.


Okay, so after reading this, you’re going to chew your next meal thoroughly. But what happens two days from now when you forget about it? Right now I’m chewing cashews to liquid before swallowing but will my busyness take over tomorrow and will I forget to chew well? Aha. That’s where those little sticky notes I’m always talking about come in. I’m going to print on a note: CHEW, CHEW, CHEW and place it on my dining table. That will be my reminder – it’s better than the old fashioned tying a string on my finger, which I don’t think anyone ever did anyway.

Here’s to your good digestion and good health!

5 Comments so far:
  •   April 26, 2017 - Pauline Says:

    This is so very true… and Blessing one’s food just may be the most important step of all!!! Scientific research has proven that blessing one’s food makes a molecular difference in the actual structure and value of the food we eat. Here is an excellent article to illustrate this. Enjoy! And it’s also been proven that when we eat without guilt and pure joy that the body knows exactly how to use that food for our best good! Bon Apetit!

  •   April 26, 2017 - Ellen Wood Says:

    Yes! Thank you. I rarely use my microwave oven except for the timer, but once in awhile I’ll heat up something and I was told if I bless the food before I microwave it, it will change the molecular structure and won’t harm any of the good nutrients.

  •   April 30, 2017 - Marilyn Kurtz Says:

    THANKYOU Ellen
    Aging gracefully with you!!!
    Much Love and Light!!!!

  •   May 1, 2017 - Ellen Wood Says:

    Wonderful, Marilyn. So happy to hear that and thanks for the blessings.

  •   July 15, 2017 - Joyce Says:

    So why don’t you use a microwave? I had a friend who said the microwave changes the molecular structure of food. Doesn’t heating things on the stove do the same thing? Aaand if using the microwave is bad but you think that it’s good-what then. Doesn’t the mind overcome?

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