Although I have to instruct my kids on a lot of things, I never have to remind them to chew their food. They chew like champs. You see, my wife and I have lapsed into the bad habit of letting our three-year-old twin boys watch TV while they're having dinner. Problem is, they've figured out that as long as they're still eating, they can keep watching Yo Gabba Gabba! So the crafty little buggers will stretch out dinner for an eon or two by chewing their food to a fine pulp. They're the poster children for the Slow Food movement. They'll make a simple plate of mac and cheese last as long as the tasting menu at Per Se. It drives my wife and me crazy. But it turns out, my kids may be on to something.
We are a nation of underchewers. And while that may seem like a pretty minor food sinalong the lines of drinking brandy from a wineglass instead of a snifterit actually has real health implications. If we all started using our molars more, it would improve both our waistlines and our digestion. Chewing a lot would make us eat more slowlywhich, some studies show, means we would eat less. And we would get more nutrition out of every bite: A recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when people chewed almonds at least 25 times, they absorbed more unsaturated fat (the good kind of fat) than those who chewed only 10 times.
I'm currently writing a book about my attempt to be the healthiest person in America, so after hearing about the possible benefits of proper mastication, I decided to try an experiment. I pledged to become the world's most thorough chewer and see how it affected my life. At least for a week. After that, I'd reassess. I would, as the chewing community says, ruminate on it.