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There’s more to chewing than you might think. It’s arguably the first digestive activity that we bring to a meal, and unlike the chemical processes that occur in our gut, chewing falls under our conscious control. Except of course, when we go a bit unconscious and inhale our food. But chewing is more than a digestive aid. It also has a potent psychological function that helps keep body, mind and emotions in balance. Consider the following:

Have you ever wondered why crunchy foods are so popular, why advertisers promote products on the basis of crunchiness – “super crunchy,” “extra crunchy,” “stays crunchy even in milk”? Have you noticed that whenever you eat your favorite brand of potato chips, pretzels, or crackers, they each have a similar degree of crunchiness? What advertisers understand and capitalize on is that crunching and chewing are primal activities, inborn urges dating back to the first life-forms that ever “crunched” on each other.

So important is the level of crunch that many years ago, potato-chip manufacturers developed a sophisticated apparatus to measure the perceived level of crunch that consumers hear in their heads. The most pleasurable decibel levels were deciphered, and potato chips were subsequently manufactured to these standard orgasmic crunch levels.

From a psychophysiologic perspective, chewing and crunching are natural outlets for inborn aggression.

Throw a piece of meat into a lion’s cage and the lion will likely roar at it, attack it and tear it apart as if it were still alive. The lion must do this because its nature is to be aggressive. But aggression here isn’t meant as some mean, vengeful act. A lion doesn’t attack a jackrabbit because of hate. Quite the contrary, the lion attacks because it loves the jackrabbit.

Like the lion, human beings have a distinct measure of innate aggression, and developmental psychologists often see this energy as first experienced through the infant’s desire to bite. Psychologists call the original oral-aggressive act the “hanging-on bite” to the breast. This is a biting that establishes confluence with the mother. The baby must actively hold on for nourishment and will often keep holding on even when mama has had enough. The tension it experiences when separated from the mother before it’s fully satisfied is typically expressed through crying, screaming and facial contortions.

In the many body-oriented disciplines and psychologies, the jaw is associated with anger and aggression. When these emotions are habitually withheld and left unexpressed, they may become “frozen” on the face as a perpetually clenched jaw or tightened musculature resembling a scowl. Just as a dog clenches its teeth when angered or challenged, so too do human beings channel aggression through the face. From an evolutionary perspective, the process of biting and chewing allows for the release of what psychologists call dental aggressive urges.

Many people habitually fail to chew, swallowing their food almost whole.

They tend to derive pleasure not so much from the taste and texture of the food as from the velocity at which it’s eaten. In such instances we deny an important, natural outlet for tension and fail to experience full satisfaction from a meal. In an effort to free the unreleased tension, we may continue to eat past the point of satiation, turn to other oral based habits like gum chewing, or simply internalize the tension, allowing it to build over time and eventually express itself in chronic emotional or biological symptoms. For many people, TMJ disorder is the result of unexpressed anger that’s looking for an outlet.

On another level, by swallowing food whole, we make a statement about the way we approach the world. We want our hungers in life satisfied but aren’t fully willing to take the necessary steps. This need for immediate gratification is reflected in our refusal to chew. Ironically, a side effect of the short-cut method of not chewing is more hunger. Chewing and tasting are basic to hunger satisfaction. When we limit these simple gustatory requirements, the brain screams for more food. Taste, texture, and satisfaction are literal nutritional requirements.

In one fascinating experiment, scientists deprived a group of test rats the sensation of taste. This group of “tasteless” rats, along with a control group, were placed on a normal rat diet. Both groups ate the same amount of food, and in a short time the taste-deprived rats all died. When the rats were autopsied, researchers could only find one cause of death – clinical rat malnutrition. The scientists could come up with only one explanation – that there are important yet unknown physiological connections between taste and health. Similarly, hospital patients fed intravenously or through feeding tubes that bypass the mouth often report a nagging hunger for taste, and can experience digestive, immune and other health issues. Though the mechanisms that govern these phenomena are little understood, this much is certain: to be fully nourished by food, we must experience it through tasting and chewing

In a comparable manner, to be fully nourished by any experience, we must “taste” and “chew” it thoroughly.

It’s no accident that many of the words we use to describe eating are the same ones used to describe the thinking process. When presented with an idea, the mind will first grasp it and “chew” on it. Our conscious mind breaks it down into its component parts, “tastes” it, then “swallows” it into the subconscious for final “assimilation”. When we accept something without “ruminating” over it or when we swallow something “hook, line and sinker,” or when “biting off more than we can chew,” what we say in our metaphoric language is that just as food works with digestion, so too do perceptions work with the mind. Improper chewing of food or ideas are equally disturbing to our system.

The mouth deserves our nutritional respect. It’s the first step in the digestive process. Here the chemical digestion of starches is initiated with amylase, an enzyme that breaks down the complex carbohydrate molecules in a well-salivated mouth. The mechanical digestion of food is also initiated in the mouth with the process of chewing. The surface area increases as the food is broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. When the food reaches the stomach, the number of molecules exposed to the stomach’s acid and enzymatic environment is maximized.

If we swallow something whole, such as a piece of meat, an abnormal series of events occurs. First the stomach must churn the meat with its own muscular movements to help break it down into smaller pieces, a function it’s not ideally designed to do. Next, we go through the lengthy chemical process of breaking down large pieces of food. Because we started with one large bite, only the surface of the meat remains exposed to the stomach’s digestive juices. To digest the meat further, the stomach may secrete more acid than normal. This irritates the stomach lining, which is the reason many eaters experience acid indigestion. The condition is exacerbated if the food is high in protein. The greater the protein content of the food, the higher the level of stomach acidity required to digest it.

Chewing is a “pacesetter”. Whatever speed and number of times we chew sets in motion a rhythm that our entire body adopts. By chewing rapidly and insufficiently, we initiate an unsettled frame of mind that is reflected in the body as uncomfortable sensations in the digestive system. Chewing at a moderate to slow rate promotes a relaxed, grounded demeanor and for many, a noticeably stronger metabolism.

Full chewing need not be a discipline, but can occur spontaneously simply by eating with relaxed awareness, and settling in to an attitude of nourishment with our meals. Rather than concentrate on chewing food, eat your food, savor it, delight in it, and let chewing be a natural part of the eating process.

Can you see how chewing is more than just a digestive activity? Do you have your own personal story of how chewing food is a metaphor for how we munch on life?

Warmest regards,
Marc David
Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014

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  • Molly Ferioli, MNT

    “When engaged in eating, the brain should be the servant of the stomach.”
    ― Agatha Christie

    • Fantastic Quote! Thanks for sharing, Molly.

      Warm Regards,

      Marc David

  • Tita

    Marc, this is a really great article!!! Thanks!

    • You’re welcome, Tita!
      Glad you enjoyed it.


      Marc David

  • Monica

    Another excellent post Marc. It all makes such perfect sense. I come from a family of fast eaters and I have really struggled to change life long habits. Thank you so much for your words of advice. I will continue to refer to this post in the hope that it may help me remember to be present and enjoy each mouthful without haste.

    • Monica,

      I’m so pleased that you found this topic helpful. You and you’re family are hardly alone when it comes to rushing through meals. Like so many others, we rush through our lives as if there’s somewhere else to go and someone else to be…

      Glad to see you commit to taking your time and going your own speed. Good for you.


      Marc David

  • Senay

    This is excellent, thank you!

    • Senay –

      You’re welcome – so glad to hear it!


      Marc David

  • Prl

    You have sparked an interest in the anthropology of eating!
    It makes me wonder if humans didn’t chew what our bodies would look like physiologically?

    • Prl –

      What a lovely line of thought… could yield some very interesting discoveries!

      Warm Regards,

      Marc David

  • Michele Melloni

    Thank you Marc for the wonderful article!

    For most of my existence here on earth, I never even thought of the importance of chewing. It was just something that my body did naturally. And I went with it, unconsciously letting that reptilian part of my brain to do its thing. Looking back, I was definitely one who would not always give my mouth the nutritional respect it needed. As a little boy I felt that I wanted pleasure, but I didn’t want to work hard for it. I wanted to go out and play, but I didn’t want to do my homework first. I wanted to get the girl and kiss her, but I didn’t want to court her. I wanted to grow muscles but I didn’t want to follow a strict regimen. I wanted money, but I didn’t want to work for it. I kind of cheated my way through life avoiding the painful parts, not seeing that with a little effort and some hard work, the reward would feel more gratifying and empowering. While eating, I would scarf down my food quickly, enjoying only short moments and always looking to fill my plate with more. I would always look at other people’s plates to see if they received more food than me. I certainly missed out on the benefits of chewing. I wasn’t a real talker and I ate very quickly. Perhaps this is why I took up singing and playing guitar. I needed an outlet. The pain in my voice made the music sound sweeter to others.

    I also remember chewing on things like pen caps in class. I would chew them until they were flat. I even took up smoking by the age of thirteen. I had an oral fixation. It’s probably because I was never chewing my food, never satisfying my dental aggressive urges through the natural act of eating. Maybe this could also have something to do with the fact that I was never breast fed.

    Although I am chewing mindfully now, there is a part of me that doesn’t quite enjoy it as much . It’s almost as if chewing becomes a chore, taking the pleasure away from eating. Whenever anything is a chore, it’s not as fun as something you do for sheer pleasure. Perhaps I feel this way because I haven’t done it long enough and it’s not second nature yet. It takes time to undo habits that I’ve had for so many years. I also find that taste and flavor diminish as food gets pulverized into a paste in my mouth. It almost becomes bland. It’s like finding out its true colors. The veil gets removed. The courtship ends and now I start seeing the real deal, what it’s made of!

    For example, I enjoy eating chicken, meat and fish. Let’s say I prepare a chicken dish. I coat the thighs in mustard, add thyme, a little garlic, salt and a little olive oil and sauté it in the pan to a crispy brown. It smells wonderful and it tastes incredible. The texture is appealing to all my senses. Then I chew and chew, pulverizing it. What happens is that I really start to taste the chicken, the bird itself, and I think of the animal I’m eating. When all the seasonings and textures are removed, the real taste of chicken comes out. And it’s not that appealing. This is true for fish, too. Once the added enhancing flavors are gone, the fishy taste is all I’m left with and I don’t like it. This is why I avoid chewing to a pulp. Maybe, just maybe, the seasoning coats the subtle guilt I feel for eating another living thing and it would fall under the “I avoid pain and seek pleasure,” category. The taste of death doesn’t taste so sweet.

    • Michele –

      I look forward to your comments. Thanks for sharing this very open inquiry into your relationship with food, chewing and pleasure. There’s a lot here to think about.

      Also interesting to hear you discover that it’s not perhaps the meat and fish you enjoy, but the flavors – it will be interesting to notice if this repulsion is the case with all food or more prominent with meat. Lots to explore here.

      Warm Regards

      Marc David

      • Michele Melloni

        Thanks Marc!
        Your articles and questions always give me the possibility to explore my life and put the pieces of my puzzle into shape. I know you love stories and find people’s lives fascinating. At the same time, I get to share my life experiences with others and hopefully relate with someone else’s.
        Thank you for opening the doorway to self inquiry!

        • Michele –

          You’re right. I do love stories. I think sharing where we’re truly coming from gives others a peaceful permission to be themselves in return. Thank you for joining us in this work!

          Marc David

      • William Crombie

        Perhaps the following applies not only to food, but to life in general as well:
        ” The banquet is in the first bite.”

        • Hi William –

          Thank you so much for sharing this – it’s perfect.

          Marc David

    • Jen Avaz

      Hi Michele,
      I enjoyed your post. I have had some similar feelings. The article and your post have inspired me to think of the work involved in attaining what I want as fundamental to the pleasure when I get it – hmmmm – thanks for that. I also notice that with real chewing all the things we do to hide the flavour of meat, poultry and fish eventually disappear leaving the less appealing plain taste. It has inspired me to think about finding out what I really do like the taste of – for example I’m not particularly vegetarian in my tastes, but I never end up with an unpleasant taste in my mouth after beans, legumes or veggies. Hmmm. Thanks.

  • Monica Maghiar

    Extraordinary article! loved it! I am a dentist and I will share it with my patients!
    One suggestion: TMJ cannot be the result of anger, I think you were referring to TMJ disorders. (TMJ is the acronym forTemporomandibular Joint)
    All the best and I cannot wait for new thoughts from you!

    • Marc David

      Hey Monica

      Thanks for the head’s up! Yes, I meant to say TMJ disorder for sure.
      And thanks for sharing the article with your patients – I so appreciate it.

      Warmest regards,
      Marc David

  • George

    I knew that i should chew my food because that is the start of the digestive process. Also, that slowing down and chewing food thoroughly assisted in losing weight. But I had never gone further than that. Marc, your article is a revelation with so much to digest and Michele’s detailed response gives additional food for thought. I will be pondering for quite a while the connection between healthy innate aggression and love of life! thanks for this profound post.

    • Hi George,

      Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad that you also found some insight in what Michele shared. There are so many areas of our life that are waiting to be explored, it just takes a little effort and awareness to open the door to inquiry.

      Thanks for your input!

      Warm Regards,
      Marc David

  • Jen Avaz

    Love your groundbreaking work, Marc. I am 100% smell-blind as a result of an accident in 1985. I always had weight issues since I was 6 – sometimes too chubby and sometimes underweight but thought I was fat, but in fact was probably never more than 20 pounds overweight. However, after completely losing my capacity to smell I ultimately became about 90 pounds overweight. I am wondering if it is related to having lost my sense of smell which is where all sense of flavour comes from. I had also lost the sense of taste (which is awful and makes you feel like your tongue is a piece of dead meat in your mouth) and went 100% blind in one eye, but these senses came back. So I get everything on the tongue – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, etc., but no flavour (like chocolate, lemon, saffron, coffee, etc..) This article makes me worry that I will not be able to get the full nutritional value of food because my ability to taste flavour is gone and I wonder whether it could be related to weight gain and what I can do about it. Should I try to imagine wonderful flavours when I eat and perhaps trick my brain into accepting the nutrition in the food? Have I been attracted to overeating because I continue to look for satisfaction? Any insights or advice? Thank you for your wonderful work!

    • Jen –

      Wow. What an amazing and crazy journey you have been on. I so appreciate you sharing about your experience. I have worked with a small handful of people over the years who had no sense of taste and/or smell, and the most “successful” ones were able to visualize, imagine and invoke a pleasurable experience of their meals as a way to step out of overeating and a sense of loss and even depression. To me, this is the simplest self help strategy you can do, and maybe even the best. I wouldn’t worry about not receiving the nutritional value from your meals. Worry and stress are far worse for nutrient assimilation. For that reason, the more you can find any sense of nourishment, relaxation, slow and pleasure with food, the better it will be for you peace of mind, your health, and your appetite regulation.

      My best wishes to you

      Marc David

      • Jen Avaz

        Thank you so much, Marc. Given the questions your article raised for me, I’ve since done a bit of research and found that there is indeed an association between weight gain and loss of smell/taste. According to the articles it is because one keeps eating, looking for that feeling or message of satiety. So your advice makes sense – the more pleasure I can get out of my food, the less likely I will overeat. Since I’ve started following the principles in your Slow Down Diet book, which I’ve especially done more devotedly since this article on chewing, what I’ve noticed is that I actually have constant indigestion. So I am experimenting to find the foods that agree with me. Thank you for your helpful response, and especially for your compassionate understanding. I think you are the first to acknowledge some of the costs of having lost a sense completely. The doctors never tested for loss of smell and taste after my head trauma, it was me who discovered it and the doctors then confirmed but shrugged it off and offered no treatment nor any assistance with adjusting to the loss. Smell and taste senses are treated as the “invisible” senses, and brushed off as unimportant, but thanks to work like yours we are starting to understand the profound importance of these senses to our health and well-being. I am grateful for your work!

  • Susan J

    My first thoughts in response to your post centered around the Ayurvedic premise that in order to fully appreciate our nutrition inbalance with our body, all 6 sensations of food taste – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent.- are encouraged with each meal. To ingest only one or two leaves us unsatisfied and “hungry” for more. All parts of us are interested and have a “steak” (sorry…couldn’t resist LOL) in being nourished in balance with our food. In addition, our systems are also hard & soft-wired with both physical & corresponding meta-physical sensory capabilities intimately tied to nutrition – taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. (i.e., hearing related to the decibels of potato chip crunching) It takes the stimulation of all of our senses to trigger feelings of “full”-ness within the act of eating in order for me to reach the feeling that I have been fully nourished, nurtured, and cared for by my meal. Not to mention that chewing itself is an act of intimacy with what we are ingesting and sets the stage for the integration of the food energy within our system. The older I get, the more I desire to keep things simple. Seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting my food ( real food vs. chemical food) in all its glorious aspects, is an act of loving intimacy I get to share with my body multile times a day. What a gift nature has provided for us!! 🙂

    PS…I am intrigued by your certification program as well as the principles that govern it. I am a nurse healer coming into my mission and remaining life purpose and passionate about nutrition, psychology, and spirituality.

    • Hi Susan –

      Thanks so much for you great perspective and contribution to this topic!. Eating and nourishment is absolutely a full-body experience, and we are remiss if we leave something out. All of ourselves must be welcomed to the table, all senses, all feelings are invited. I so resonate with this idea of chewing being “an act of intimacy” – after all – how much more intimate can an act be? What comes through us: our thoughts, feelings, experiences, judgments, and steaks – all of them are becoming part of the very beings that we are.

      As for information on our Certification Training, please do not hesitate to contact my staff with any questions you may have: and we will happily send some material out to you.

      We also have a very informative school catalog that you can download and print at home. I think you will find it very helpful. I’m attaching a copy here:

      Thank you so much for sharing your insights here.


      Marc David

      • Susan J

        Thank you Marc. I am honored by your comments and feel that perhaps we are of “kindred energy.” I applaud your inventiveness! I googled nutritional psychologist and found there is no official program for that specialty. I was honestly disappointed. I spoke with Emily today with some questions about your program. During the convo she related your educational opportunity to “create” that!! I truly acknowledge your vision, mission, and personal leadership!! :)) I also absolutely appreciate out-of-the-box thinkers and experiencers of life!!!!

        Thank you for the links. I plan to check them out. I am also considering your May weekend program offering in Boulder. It would be a wonderful chance to say hello!

        Warmly, in connection,

        Susan Joy

        • Susan –

          You’re so welcome. I know you’ll find some good knowledge through those links. I’m happy to have you as a kindred spirit in the field of health and nutrition. Thank you for your kind words, as well.

          It would be great to have you come in May!

          Marc David

  • This is a wonderful article, very well written and very interesting. We, as dietitians, definitely need to understand, explain and impart the importance of chewing and enjoying foods to our clients/patients.

    Understanding the physiology and psychology of chewing and digestion will help us educate others. Thanks for the really informative article!


    • Thalia –

      I’m so glad you got some good information from this piece. There’s so much we can learn from each other in this field – it really benefits our clients when we share what we know.

      Thank you for adding your thoughts and support here, and thank you for all the work you’re doing to support others on their health journeys. I checked out your blog by the way – great job!

      Marc David

  • As with all things, there is a rhythm to life and a rhythm to chewing. Doing anything quickly dismisses the activity and depletes the joy. Often times people will say they love food and yet they dismiss it with every hurried bite. When you truly love something you savor, taste and enjoy. Like digesting the whole of an experience, food deserves no less.

    • Annette –

      I love it! You absolutely got it. There’s so much we miss in life by rushing through it.
      Thanks for adding your perspective.

      Marc David

  • shell

    Very interesting article. Thank you
    My problem with not chewing my food enough is most probably the same as most people
    TIME, Yep good old lunch breaks, Only having half a hour for lunch only encourages us to eat fast and be done with it.
    I will now schedule a little longer and concentrate on savoring each mouthful and chewing.

    • Hi Shell,

      It’s really a shame how our culture is geared towards velocity when all we need to do is stop and savor the moment. I think you have a good start, chewing and enjoying our food fully is something we have to make time do however we can. Good for you!

      Marc David

  • Purneema

    Chewing is something I realise I am doing less. there r times when I concentrate and count how many times I am chewing a bite in mouth but its not happening on its own….

    • Hi Purneema –

      You have stumbled upon the key to the art of chewing: mindfulness! For now you may find that you have to count, but over time, it will become more natural. Just enjoy the process and it will being to happen on its own.

      I wish you patience and good luck!


      Marc David

  • Pat

    Marc thanks for this great article…. I try so hard to chew but then my mind wonders and before I know my plate is clear… I think the TV is terrible for this, my plan is now not to watch TV and eat at the same time, and concentrate on chewing

    • Hi Pat –

      You’re so welcome. When it comes to learning to chew your food, know that it takes practice. I think you have the right idea: no distractions. Make your meal time an occasion – put on some nice music, light some candles, deck out the table. Who says every day and every meal shouldn’t be celebrated?

      Marc David

  • Hi Marc,
    As an eating disorder specialist, I see this phenomenon over and over again.
    Many of my clients who have repressed anger will often reach for, or binge on food that is crunchy. It appears that they are trying to express their misplaced anger through the chips, pretzels, even celery! Then, when are finished with the food, they feel a sense of calm. It is a maladaptive coping mechanism. When they can be enlightened about what they are doing, it is often a first step toward expressing anger in more effective ways.
    Also, many who binge or eat extremely fast, feel the need to keep on eating in order to feel “done”. They are completely disconnected from the mind-body connection that we need to get when we are eating for “nourishment”, and are trying to feel satiated. My clients often tell me that they eat fast on purpose, taking large mouthfuls, to get to the point where they feel physically ill, yet emotionally calm. Such fascinating work.
    Thank you for all your wonderful posts. They always relate to what I see with clients, and referring them to your posts helps support what I am telling them.

    • Hi Donna,

      Thank you for sharing your professional experiences here with us. I’m so glad that my articles corroborate what you’re seeing in your patients. Thanks for your kind words and all the work you’re doing in the world to serve others and help them heal.

      Best Wishes,
      Marc David

  • misha

    Hi Marc,
    Thank you for such a fascinating and revealing article. My question is, what do you have to say about people who have an eating disorder that consists of “chewing and spitting?”
    Thank you!

  • Hi Misha –
    I wish I could give you a general answer.
    As with all eating disorders it needs to be addressed on an emotional, physiological, and psychological level. I’ve found different correlations for the clients I’ve worked with who chew and spit. For a lot of them it starts with a desire to get the taste of food they have labeled “forbidden”.
    It can quickly become compulsive. I have seen clients who do it for hours a day. For a lot of them, it’s also a way to move energy and satisfy their orality. It can quickly put the jaw out of alignment and definitely confuses the body, because the brain thinks it’s getting food, and so the digestive systems starts the process of producing stomach acid and the food never comes. For a lot of people, they’re trying to avoid the calories in the food, but ultimately the body gets so confused there can be non-caloric weight gain – via insulin response, bloating, swelling in the cheeks etc…The saliva already begins to break down the food as soon as one starts to chew it so depending on the food being chewed, sugars etc start to be absorbed into the system. I hope this is helpful.

    Emily Rosen
    CEO, IPE

  • Pam

    I find that if I have a focus on the sensations of the food traveling through my mouth toward my throat, I don’t have to count my chews. It’s rather amazing to feel how the teeth and tongue sort of naturally move the food further and further back in the mouth until it is so far back in the mouth that swallowing is just inevitable. When I am able to slow down and be mindful about eating, I focus on these sensations, rather than on counting chews. Any time I’ve tried to count chews, I find that counting becomes something of an obsession that I can’t seem to get out of my head. I stick to the physical sensations of the food moving through my mouth, and my minfulness work is to let that happen, rather than forcing the speed of chewing and swallowing.

    I realize I haven’t practiced this mindfulness of chewing in a very long time. It’s a good time to bring this back to my mealtimes.

    This was a truly wonderful article, with a totally new perspective on the subject, as all of your articles are, Marc. I’m very thankful to have found out about you, your website, and your work. I feel “fed” by your compassionate approach and alternative perspective.

    • Pam

      I will add to this by relating a little chewing experiment that I did during the evening after my original post. I set a timer to see how long my mouth would decided to chew on a spoonful of coconut chips … the sort that are about 1/2 inch wide and 1-1/2 inches long.

      That’s a fibrous food, and it turned out that my mouth chewed on that for over 5 minutes before it was satisfied that it was ready for swallowing!

      The next morning I had some scrambled eggs as a part of my breakfast. I chewed this mouthful of scrambled eggs with the intention of noticing the difference in how fast my mouth decided to chew these vs. the coconut chips. My mouth was complete with the scrambled eggs in five chews.

      Amazing differences. I love that my mindful chewing practice has been revived after reading this post. My mouth, tongue and teeth know how much chewing each food needs. My work is to let them have their autonomy, and keep myself out of it!

      • Hi Pam —
        I love this description of your presence during your meals.
        I agree that counting can get tiresome for some, it can be helpful to create new habits for others. Thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your perspective.


  • Sachin

    My father is the one who finishes his meals very quickly and reading this this article actually gave me the real reason behind his short tempered nature, He eats so fast that i wonder if he chews it or not, as if there is a competition in finishing meal first. This explanation how psychologically it fuels anger every-time you don’t give your teeth a chance, is very neatly put, I am now more aware with my chewing and focus on enjoying it longer than looking at it like a task. Benefits are much more than we can imagine as its the first and basic step and creates a domino effect on more crucial digestive processes.

    • Hi Sachin,

      It always makes such an impression when we can relate these psychological facts with personal experience. Thanks for sharing about your dad. This is a helpful example for many, I would imagine. I often find that eating habits of this nature often track back to our past, for some, even childhood. It makes sense that our eating behaviors are very important to our wellbeing throughout our life.


  • idris

    Thanks Marc for this article.

    chewing food till liquid will also helps body focus energy towards other things other than digestion
    I think lots of diseases can be prevented if one chewed food till liquid; cancer, indigestion, memory loss, abnormal aging, obesity, and etc….

    keep up the good work.

    I also recommend people to fast regularly like 12 to 16 hours a day so our body has chance to assimilate nutrients from digested food and repair damaged cells or use them as fuel if they cannot be repaired and rejuvenate and also become fat adapted (meaning to be able to use body’s stored resources as oppose to carps and energy running in the blood stream)

  • Inde

    Dear Marc,

    I find it tremendously annoying that YOU reply to every single post! And, moreover, just say the
    same congratulatory thing! You should take a hint from Chris Kresser, who writes even more terrific articles and has a tremendously knowledgable reading public! When he does reply – giving us the sense that he does read and care about what his readers say – its a TREAT of additional insight and information!. It doesn’t make you want to just scroll down to get away from the same thing YOU justs repeat!

    • Hi Inde,

      I’m sorry you feel that way. Not every comment needs a big response. I want to make sure that everyone knows that I do read every comment, and that they feel heard and acknowledged. Each person that takes the time to read the article and comment on it deserves the respect of a reply, no matter how short or long that reply may be. I’m super busy, yet still do my best to maintain some kind of personal touch.

      I’m glad you have found insight with Chris Kresser’s articles and I hope you can see that not everyone in this field needs to be carbon copies of one another – we all have our own unique style of relating to our readers.


      • Devora

        I agree with you Marc. It is so rewarding to feel heard and to know that our comments were read and thought about. It’s an effort to make a comment, especially if it involves some introspection, and it’s really nice to know that our efforts weren’t for naught! I think your taking the time to care to respond shows sensitivity and consideration!

  • Christine

    Hi, I’m curious as to what advice you have for someone in remission from bulimia with severe restriction, being DX T1 diabetic 33 years ago then learning how to man uplifted food 3yrs after DX. It’s been 4 years actually July 10 will be, but chewing is not my big YAHOO. Type of thing especially when I predigested there.. There are days still I get stuck on safe foods soup eggs yogurt … Any advice? I do love this page…

    • Hi Christine,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you have gone and are going through. Unfortunately, I can’t give specific advice, but I would recommend you think about connecting with one of our graduates, or any qualified practitioner. You can find the directory here:

      Good luck with everything going forward, and thanks again for sharing your story.


  • BRS

    Are there references for this article? The author mentions a study, but doesn’t say which one or where readers can look it up. Is there a source for the statement that TMJ can result from not expressing anger? Or is that the author’s opinion? Love this piece, but would also like just a bit more info.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, BRS! There are actually many studies that show a connection between TMJ and anger (and other emotional factors, as well). You can go to the US National Library of Medicine website here and search “TMJ anger,” and you’ll see many citations to follow up on! Hope this helps! Warmly, Marc

  • Thanks for your kind words, Devora! It truly is a joy for me to read the thoughtful comments that people share on this blog, and to connect with the members of our online community in this way! Warmly, Marc

    • RambleOn

      I’ve only just now found this article & was thinking how wonderful it was that you replied to each comment. I was just thinking how special that was when I got to this post. Just shows how different things work for different people, i guess.

      • Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to read the article. Please let us know if you have any questions.
        Warm regards,
        IPE Team

  • Gill

    Hi Marc, very interesting article… What is your opinion on the current craze of juicing?

    • Hi Gill, great question! I think juicing can have great benefits for so many people. And it can have drawbacks for some people as well, so as with anything, it’s best to follow your own body’s wisdom and guidance. But overall, I think juicing is a fine nutritional strategy! Warmly, Marc

  • rahul_sharma

    Hi Marc,

    Thanks for this article. We have been told in India by our parents and Grand parents that one should chew food at least 36 times for good digestion. But, frankly it is boring as the process of counting steals the taste of the food, also, chewing 36 times aches my jaws. But again I know there are benefits too, like I realized that if I chew for at least 36 times, I tend to eat less (or the right amount, I don’t know). It made me think that do we eat a lot more than required if we do not chew enough?

    One more thing, I have also observed that eating raw foods like sprouts, fruits, some vegetables etc. requires more chewing, so we invariably eat less.


    • Thank you so much for this great comment, Rahul! It’s true that the process of chewing each bite 36 times slows us down and helps us better sense when we are full — but you’re also right that the counting itself can be tedious and can interfere with our taking pleasure in food. My sense is that once you are used to chewing that many times, it can become more of an intuitive process — and you can just chew until you feel “done.” Thanks again for posting! Warmly, Marc

  • Micaela

    What a fantastic article Marc! As always you have such wonderful insight. I’m so grateful to have found this website and to be a recipient of all the wonderful work you do. I have suffered from TMJ for the last few years and the issue of repressed emotions and anger is spot on. It made go ‘wow’ as I read it and the penny finally dropped. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us and keep it up!

    • Thanks for your feedback Micaela–I’m so glad that you enjoyed the article! Thanks for being part of our community 🙂 Warmly, Marc

  • Rohit Kishor

    I agree with you. Chewing food properly
    prevents people from much disease, increases digestive system, and properly
    transports nutrients to our body parts.

    • Thank you for your feedback, Rohit Kishor! And, thank you for being part of our community 🙂 Warmly, Marc

  • Carol, thank you for sharing your insights. Sounds like you’ve discovered some crunchtastic snacks 🙂

  • insightplease

    I am recently having this occasional weird need to bite into something strong and hard and chew it through, often my mind wanders for good piece of steak or crunchy chips and these is not for satiety needs.

    • Hi there! Thanks so much for taking the time to read our article and comment. Your urge to bite into some food is very interesting, but not uncommon. There can be many reasons: feeling anxious, cravings, a craving for a specific nutrient your body might be missing, high stress, or the need to slow down more and savor food or even life experiences. Biting and chewing are such important parts of digestion and enjoying food, having thoughts about it can signal something your body is really yearning for. It’s worth exploring and being curious about! We really appreciate you sharing and hope you find this useful. 🙂
      Warm regards,
      The IPE Team

  • NoGMOs

    My boyfriend seems to think women eat faster in general Is this suppressed anger, getting our share from the big boys or do we feel we have to clean up the dishes and that weighs on our minds?

    • Hi! Thanks for your comment and for a really interesting question. 🙂
      We can’t say without a doubt that either women or men eat faster than each other. In our experience, it is an issue that can affect anyone regardless of gender. It’s more of a symptom of someone’s learned experience, stress levels, and their reaction to their lifestyle if they follow a fast paced schedule. If you observed your mother eating fast so she could rush to clean up the table, it makes sense that you might do the same thing. This can also apply to what you observed your father doing as well. The main point is to recognize the urge or tendency to eat fast and challenge yourself to take some deep breaths and to slow down as much as possible. Make the meal the priority, not what you feel pulled to do right after.

      I hope this helps! Let us know if you have further questions.

      The IPE Team

  • murder melody

    hi. Well i have a tendency to bite people. now normally its my friends ,i’ve done it to them for so long they all kinda just go along with it. But its been more than once were i have bitten myself if left alone. I also notice just over the years of doing this, i Bite myself way harder then i would do anyone else(my friends) i never drew blood but the bites were pretty deep. sometimes it almost uncontrollable.

    Just wanted some answers …Thanks

    • Thank you for commenting on our post with your questions. We understand your concern and encourage you to seek the support you can through a one-on-one consult with a specialist who can work with you to look closer into different factors that may contribute to the impulse to bite. The Institute for the Psychology of Eating is an educational organization which specializes in a holistic approach to dynamic eating psychology and mind body nutrition and we are unable to make specific individual recommendations here. 🙂 We wish you all the best, IPE Staff

  • Hi Amanda,

    We all can relate to the struggle of trying to change a habit. It is natural that you will experience resistance as you are trying to chew more. Please be patient with yourself and know that it will be a process, and you are doing just fine along the way.

    Try to remain present in the moment while you are eating, slow down and think about the taste and sensation of the food. You may notice uncomfortable emotions coming to the surface for you as you try to chew your food. Try to stay present and allow yourself to feel whatever your are feeling.

    If you are patient and compassionate with yourself and try to make small consistent changes you will make forward progress to change your habit of not chewing, and in the process, the reason you stopped in the first place may become clearer to you.

    We encourage you to reach out to if you would like more information! Warmly,
    The IPE Team

  • We understand it can be challenging to try and change the pace of our eating. And you tried it! To start, really celebrate yourself for trying on a new practice, and even though it was uncomfortable and felt foreign, you tried it. Eating slowly is indeed a practice that might not just change overnight. We trust that with continued patience and commitment, you’ll get where you want to go! And we hope some of our information here has been helpful. Warmly, IPE Staff

About The Author
Marc David

Marc David is the Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, a leading visionary, teacher and consultant in Nutritional Psychology, and the author of the classic and best-selling works Nourishing Wisdom and The Slow Down Diet. His work has been featured on CNN, NBC and numerous media outlets. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, and his approach appeals to a wide audience of eaters who are looking for fresh, inspiring and innovative messages about food, body and soul. He lectures internationally, and has held senior consulting positions at Canyon Ranch Resorts, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation, and the Disney Company. Marc is also the co-founder of the Institute for Conscious Sexuality and Relationship.