If you are a slow eater, chances are you take the time to enjoy your food and munch for quite some time on every mouthful. But don’t be embarrassed by your eating habits, because on today’s Wacky Word Wednesday, a weekly celebration of the wackiest and most interesting words from around the world, we will explore the benefits of chewing.
Today’s wacky word is:
Thorough chewing of food until it becomes like porridge.
Poltophagy, from the Greek poltos, ‘porridge,’ and phagein, ‘to eat,’ refers to the act of chewing food long enough that it becomes like porridge. The opposite of this is psomophagy, which means swallowing food without sufficient chewing. Poltophagy can also mean ingesting soft food such as porridge or pottage so as not to require chewing.
Poltophagy was an offshoot of fletcherism, which, according to Merriam-Webster, means the practice of eating in small amounts only when hungry and of chewing one’s food thoroughly. Fletcherism was advocated by American nutritionist Horace Fletcher who earned the nickname “The Great Masticator” in the 19th century. He suffered from obesity and indigestion most of his life. He then proposed that one should eat only when genuinely hungry and never when anxious, depressed, or preoccupied. Fletcher also argued that one should enjoy one’s food and chew each mouthful 32 times or until the food liquefies as a method of maximizing health.
Some studies on chewing have also confirmed Fletcher’s theory. Scientists found that munching on each mouthful for longer helps you lose weight because it allows your stomach more time to send a signal to the brain that you are full. It also helps prepare your digestive system so that it’s ready to absorb nutrients from the food particles as they pass through.
Finally, let’s look at several sentence examples using today’s wacky word:
- Adherents of poltophagy were not distracted from dinner conversation by chew–counts, but they nonetheless had their mouths full for much of the meal. (How to Chew,’ Boston Evening Transcript, September 18, 1905)
- Hey Grandpa, put your dentures in and make sure you poltophagy your rutabegas. (Markosun’s blog)
So if you’ve always wanted to shed some weight but don’t want to give up your favorite food, you might want to give poltophagy a try. And remember to share your success stories below!
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