As a child, summer vacation was something that always went by too quickly. And when you were in the midst of a gorgeous summer day, the last thing you wanted to do was come inside waste time eating lunch. So you’d plow through your sandwich, wolf down your apple, and jam a cookie in your mouth as you ran out the door. Never mind your mother telling you to slow down, and admonishing you to chew. You had things to do!

Well it turns out Mom was right. A study appearing in the January issue of Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that you may consume fewer calories over the course of a meal when you eat more slowly. The best way to slow down is to increase the number of times you chew each bite. The most recent study is backed by others; a July 2013 study found that eating more slowly lead to improved satiety, a study one month before found that prolonged chewing helps prevent diabetes, and an August 2011 study found that longer chewing results in increased levels of appetite-regulating hormones.

There are other benefits as well. Chewing sends signals to the rest of your body, telling it to prepare for digestion. Your food gets more exposure to saliva, which helps break it down further. Chewing also strengthens your teeth and jaw, and finally chewing helps discourage food-borne bacteria from entering your digestive system on plus-sized food particles.

The recommended amount of chews per bite varies, depending upon whom you’re talking to. Horace Fletcher, founder of the chewing movement and nicknamed “The Great Masticator” swore by 100 chews per bite. Most other scientists say that 40 is a more reasonable number, and less likely to drive you crazy. But all agree that you shouldn’t focus on the number, but rather chew until the food loses all texture.

I’m not saying you need to put down your smoothie and switch to carrots, celery, and tough-as-nails steaks just to make sure you get your chewing in. But the next time you sit down to a meal, slow down. Enjoy every bite of your food, focus on the flavor, and remember that food is more than just fuel.

For more information about the benefits of eating slowly, read Dr. Mercola’s article on

Image Credit: Linda Åslund