Mom Was Right: Chew Your Food

Okay, so if your mother is anything like mine, maybe Mom was sort of right. My mother’s intention was for my siblings and me to chew our food long enough not to choke on it – a couple of quick chews and down the hatch. According to Jessica Porterbaby-84686_1920, though, we should aim to chew each mouthful of food 50 – 100 times before sending it down that hatch.

What?!?!? No, I’m not kidding. And – you in the corner – cradling your bloated, gurgling, gaseous stomach – stop laughing and listen up. I had to suppress a couple of laughs listening to Porter; mostly, though, I just giggled along with the other 25 people soaking up her stories. I even silenced that inner critic I know so well and learned a few things.

Why in the world would we want to chew each mouthful of food 50 – 100 times?

  • Chew your food 50 – 100 times and you’ll be swallowing food in liquid form, rather than as a solid. This will save the rest of your digestive system a LOT of work.
  • Chewing releases the power of our saliva. Saliva is alkaline and contains some mighty powerful enzymes that break down our food. As it mixes with saliva, our food becomes more alkaline.
  • Drinking a smoothie – swish it around in your mouth, mixing it with saliva. You want the smoothie to experience the benefit of spending some time with powerful saliva.
  • When the rest of your body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest your food, you’ll experience some great results:
    • Say good-bye to that bloated, gurgling, gaseous stomach!
    • Reduce inflammation, which helps heal a host of chronic illnesses.
    • Say hello to increased energy and the ability to focus and think clearly.

How in the world do you chew each mouthful of food 50 – 100 times?

  • Pretend your food is mouthwash and close off your throat as you chew your food.
  • Start small – eat the first 2/3 of your meal as you normally would. Chew the last 1/3 of your meal 50 times.
  • Once you’ve mastered this, chew 100% of every meal for one day 50 times.
  • Next – try it for a week and see how you feel. Call it a chew-a-thon as Porter does; making it fun helps!!
  • Never count higher than 10 – after the first count of 10, up goes the thumb. Second count, index finger, and so on.
  • Chew as fast as you want; yes, you can dance while you chew if that helps! Want to park yourself in front of the television while you eat? Go right ahead. Just chew, and chew and chew.

Never one to shy away from the uncomfortable, Porter also let us know how to handle eating with friends who will not be engaging in your chew-a-thon: Just tell them you’re going to do this weird chewing thing. No problem!

Big thanks to Lisa Silverman and Five Seasons Cooking School for hosting this evening with Jessica Porter.

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.


  1. This is an activity I’ve done before chewing 25 times. I always seem to go back to old ways though because mealtimes are always packed with discussion. I wonder if I use the finger counting method as a game, like when your talking with someone, and you hold up your finger while chewing.

    This sounds like fun!
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  2. Great reminder, Deb! I started doing this and it has helped with my digestion immensely. I like to do this especially with food that has more fat in it. It seems to help me enjoy it more. Not sure why, it just does. Thanks for sharing.
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  3. Thank you for the reminder, Deb! I used to be quite religious about this, but have forgotten. Even though I know the benefits.
    Back to it today!

  4. Interesting idea. I can’t imagine what people would think. Not sure that telling them would help but maybe. It’s about time for breakfast. I’ll give it a try. I like the finger counting idea.
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  5. My mother said the very same thing to me Deb. She told me I need to TASTE my food. It’s very interesting to learn how our saliva helps our digestive system to work better when we chew our food properly.

  6. I did not know that saliva had that kind of benefit. I believe the benefit of akalyzing and will do more swishing. And for the counting…ok have heard of this and will try again! 🙂
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  7. I never knew the thing about saliva helping digestion but I do eat very very slowly & always have. Maybe I chew longer naturally. I always take small bites. People leave tables long before me. I am going to pay attention to my chewing. I am now curious.

  8. One of my friends is a macrobiotic food specialist and a reiki master and I believe she chews her food 500 times. When I heard this I could not imagine it! It often takes her 3 hours to finish a meal. Coming from a family who literally “inhaled” their food, I tried to chew more and find it challenging indeed. We make a joke when we do small family dinners, especially ones that are meant to have a ceremonial aspect to them, at how quickly we race through the meals.

    I think chewing also requires consciousness and I believe many people are not conscious when they are eating. They are wolfing down their food to get on to the next task. Or sitting eating while doing something else. I’m guilty of that at times. My daughter has the ability to really chew and savor her meals. I have NO idea where she learned that though. 😉 With practice, I know it is possible to slow down and chew. Of course the digestive health benefits are very worth it. I wonder if my inhaling of food when I was young was a contributing factor to my own gastrointestinal health issues? Probably one of many pieces of that puzzle. Thanks for the reminder, Deb. I will consciously chew my dinner tonight.
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  9. Maybe that is my problem…. I think I eat too fast too.. so I must not be chewing my food enough… Great point.. my tummy gurgles all the dern time.
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  10. OH.. and on the smoothie thing.. I can’t swish… it’s ice cold and I have sensitive teeth.. urgh.
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  11. I may have to work my way up to 50 chews, Deb, but the evidence of feeling better is very compelling. I do try to take a real lunch break every day, so I’m not mindlessly eating while in front of my computer, but I could still stand to slow down and enjoy my meals a little more. I’m on board with reducing inflammation as well.

  12. Good reminder Deb. I knew about this but fell into the bad habits of eating while I worked or grabbed a bite as I raced to do something else. I’ve given up eating while I work and now take time out. Also, I’ve been practicing eating more slowly. Now, I will start to be more mindful of chewing more. My stomach thanks you.
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  13. Sounds like an evening in heaven to me to listen to Ms. Porter. This is so true, but I have to admit this is one thing I am bad at. I continue to work on it and someday it will come second nature. I refuse to give up.
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  14. Great post! It is important to chew your food slowly and a lot and I can totally relate to what your mom said! Thanks for sharing!
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