Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Fletcherize – Wacky Word Wednesday

If you’re looking for something to chew on, go ahead and take a bite out of today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world!

The definition from TermWiki.com:

fletch·er·ize

[flech-uh-rahyz]

-verb

to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly; prolonged chewing

A cartoon depiction of fletcherizing, which means to chew (food) slowly and thoroughly.

Like clerihew, this week’s word is another eponym derived from Horace Fletcher, an American food faddist and dietician who lived from 1849 to 1919. From 1895 until his death in 1919, Fletcher campaigned vigorously and passionately about what he believed were the keys to good health. This included:

  • Eating only when hungry—never out of boredom, from anxiety or unhappiness
  • Thoroughly and deliberately chewing each mouthful until the food turned into liquid (i.e. chewing approximately 32 times per bite)
  • Excessive chewing also allowed the food to mix with saliva, which was an important part of the digestive process. Because of this, Fletcher maintained that even liquids needed to be “chewed” properly.

He must have been a pretty good salesman; known as The Great Masticator, Fletcher convinced millions of Americans to abide by his chewing regimen, including Henry James, Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair and John D. Rockerfeller. When Horace Fletcher died in 1919, he died a millionaire, much of that monetary success due to popularity of fletcherism.

While researching modern-day beliefs regarding fletcherizing, we discovered that thoroughly chewing food helps our bodies intake and absorb more nutrients, but it is not necessary to abide by Fletcher’s 32-chews-per-mouthful rule.  As Fletcher advised, our research also suggests that the enzymes from saliva help with the digestive process. Saliva allows your stomach muscles to work less. If your stomach has to work too hard to digest food, cramping and stomach pains can result. Also, if food is not chewed adequately, larger pieces that pass through the colon are able to feed bacteria, causing… well… other unattractive (smelly) bodily functions. Apparently, Mr. Fletcher was onto something after all!

Below is a short rhyme that will help you remember to fletcherize more at your next meal:

    Eat somewhat less but eat it more
    Would you be hearty beyond fourscore.
    Eat not at all in worried mood
    Or suffer harm from best of food.
    Don’t gobble your food but “Fletcherize”
    Each morsel you eat, if you’d be wise.
    Don’t cause your blood pressure e’er to rise
    By prizing your menu by its size.

If you have any dietary practices or theories for good health and well-being, feel free to share below!

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