When I try to count to 50 I am surprised to find I actually start really paying attention and loving the subtle taste of the food that I don't normally get to! Then I don't feel as bored, it's not just blah-blah-blah chew for my health.
The idea to chew your food a lot comes from the macrobiotic tradition. It is a carbohydrate based diet centered around whole grains. Proper digestion and metabolism were seen as the key to good health. Chewing your food well releases elements in saliva that begin to digest the carbs before you even swallow. Chewing food well takes some of the work away from your digestive organs. Eating cooked foods especially soups starts the process of breaking the foods down so that our bodies work with more efficiency.
Chewing excessively slows down the process of eating. It reduces the total amount of calories consumed and makes those that are consumed more accessible to our bodies. In a culture that commonly experienced famine and an over all lack of food, chewing stretches out the food by making each calorie count.
We feel full several minutes after we get full. Chewing alot prevents the overeating that occurs during this lag time. It also forces us to sit to eat and take our time. I think of counting the bites as a form of meditation that brings your conscious mind into the moment. While you are eating, do you really need to be obsessing about your job or relationship? No, counting your chews settles your thoughts and calms your whole nervous system. Adrenaline is a natural inhibiter to digestion. Counting your bites, especially at first, changes your whole experience of eating.
I do well with rice and grains, and beans, but when it comes to things like collards I cant chew them 100 times they begin to taste so bitter! But with rice, I find that I chew for a while and by the 40-50 chews, some has made its way down my throat. I feel a lot more energized and I enjoy my meal alot more when I chew, but this aint easy!
My method is to chew in sets of 8. I chew 4 sets of 8 chews on the left side of my mouth, then shift the food to the right side of my mouth and repeat. That way, I get in 64 chews per mouthful, but it doesn't feel as repetitive.