Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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Use Your Teeth and Tongue

As you endeavor to become a “normal” eater, you’ll most certainly want to get your teeth and tongue working for you. They’re probably not organs you think much about, except at brushing time or when you have an appointment with your dentist or hygienist. But, they’re key body parts in regulating appetite (along with your brain) and play a major role in registering pleasure and satisfaction.

It’s pretty easy to figure out what part your teeth play in the eating process. Chewing not only grinds food into small enough pieces for your stomach to digest it, it also releases flavor. Many rapid eaters don’t chew food long enough and swallow oversized bites. Not only is this unhealthy for digestion, but it prevents flavor from being released. Although you say you love food, do you really love it enough to chew at a slow rate so that flavor bursts out of every bite? Conversely, do you habitually over-chew until there’s no flavor left? Think about masticating just long enough to release flavor and reduce food into digestible particles.

Along with chewing, it’s essential that you let food sit on your tongue. First off, that’s the organ that registers flavor and will let you know whether or not you’re enjoying what you’re eating. The tongue sends taste status messages to the brain to let it know if it's having a good time with food. If you don’t allow your tongue to do its job, you might as well eat cardboard. The second thing this organ does is register satiation. If you pay close attention while eating, you’ll notice that your first few bites have far more wow than your last bite because taste buds soon tire of a flavor—eat one thing long enough and it will soon seem as if it has no taste at all. If you chew food well and let it sit on your tongue, you’ll recognize when taste decreases. Through this process, your tongue will sense when flavor peaks, then send a message to your brain that you’re satisfied.

Of course, you have to focus attention on your tongue to sense when it registers peak flavor. Remember, it’s not saying you’re full and have had a sufficient quantity of food. It's signaling your brain so that it will know when you're qualitatively satisfied. At that point, continuing to eat more of a food won't generate more flavor. Eating is like sex: when you’re done, you’re done and you’re going to have to wait a bit to derive maximum pleasure. Make it a point whenever you eat to chew food thoroughly (but not obsessively) and give it plenty of time to rest on your tongue. Focus on flavor and satiation and trust that this funny, little organ will help you become a “normal” eater.

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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.