The Five Minute Rule (and Twenty Chews Per Bite)
The Five-Minute Rule
The five-minute rule works great for kids whose eyes are bigger than their stomach.
You know the kid who is still hungry and wants seconds or thirds – and then ends up being too full to finish? It works for him.
You know the kid who, once he finishes, he’s stuffed? It works for him.
Miserably uncomfortable is not a fun place to be whether you’re a kid or an adult.
This five-minute rule works for adults as well. It’s a great way to test the stomach and see how hungry we really are.
I used to implement this rule when our half-dozen were at home and some kids kept piling on the food, trying to hurry and get seconds before others could nab it all. It worked well then and helped all of us to stop and think before we piled on seconds. [I am not naming names, but we all know who they are.]
The “Twenty Chews” rule.
The twenty chews per bite rule guarantees kids (and adults) will take more time while eating.
When there are only so many pieces of Domino’s pizza in the box, it seems that some kids thought they’d get more if they stuffed the food down the chute quicker than the younger ones.
In those situations, the “20 Chews per Bite” rule was enforced. Take as big a bite of pizza as you want, but you have to chew twenty times before you can take another bite. Oh yes, I watched and I counted. I’m a mom, and I can do that. It takes a while to chew twenty times, even if you chew fast. That helped slow the progress of consumption of a piece of pizza.
Eventually, we got away from those rules because our kids grew up and were (usually) responsible enough to decide if seconds were necessary. They were mature enough to chew their food slowly enough that they no longer fought over the last piece of pizza or who got the last fresh dinner roll.
Reinstating the Rules
When we started doing foster care, the rule book came out again and was put to good use. Especially was this helpful for kids who, before coming to our house, had to fend for themselves and never knew if there would be food for another meal.
When a child is worried about when they will be able to eat again, there is great comfort in knowing that he can take as many helpings as he wants at a meal. Requiring him to wait five minutes (or ten or fifteen) before taking subsequent helpings helps his stomach have time to begin digesting and settling all that food. This brief respite from devouring food gives time for the brain to receive and process the “full and satisfied” message from the stomach. It helps calm the frenzy of competing for the last piece of bread or pizza.
Good Reason and Good Practice
The rule applies to everyone at the table. We don’t ask anything of our kids that we don’t enforce for ourselves. Our kids loved watching the timer while we waited until our time was up to take seconds.
It’s a good practice – and a good experience – to think a little more about how much we consume. That five-minute rule is bound to make all of us a little healthier in the long run.