Chewing food slowly can help to reduce overeating.
The advice seems solid: eat slowly so that you have a chance to feel full and thus reduce the chance of overeating. However, when the theory has been tested in a laboratory, there have been mixed results.
A new study has looked at how the number of chews could influence the total amount of food consumed in volunteers with a range of body weights. After determining the normal number of chews for a mouthful of food for 45 volunteers, each person attended a food laboratory and ate a standard pizza meal for lunch until feeling comfortably full. Each person was directed to chew a different number of times each session. This was either at their normal rate, 50% above this or double their normal number of chews per bite.
Chew more, eat less
Compared to how much food was eaten under normal chewing conditions, about 10% less food was eaten when 50% more chews were made. At double the number of chews per mouthful, 15% less food was eaten over the meal sitting.
Whether someone was of a normal weight, overweight, or obese did not appear to influence the benefit of chewing more on the amount of food eaten. Even with less food eaten from more chewing, subjective feelings of appetite at the end of the meal and in the period after was not different under any of the chewing conditions.
"Chew more, eat slowly, eat less." - Associate Professor Tim Crowe
Zhu Y et al. Increasing the number of chews before swallowing reduces meal size in normal-weight, overweight, and obese adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2014;114:926-931