Why is swallowing food an essential part of the “experience”?


When I was younger my brother came up with a plan for how we could eat as much candy as we wanted without actually consuming all the sugar it containes. We would simply chew the candy, giving us the taste and feel, and then spit it out instead of swallowing it.

This did not work as intended. It was, in fact, worse than not having any candy at all. The urge to swallow is incredibly strong and the feeling of dissatisfaction once you spit it out is overwhelming.

To this day I get uncomfortable thinking about it.

What gives?

In: 3

The entire point of eating is to get calories to keep you alive. Spitting out the food does not achieve that goal. There is a *very* strong evolutionary imperative baked in at a low level to eat so you don’t die; this is why high calorie foods (like candy) taste so good.

Your brain has evolved to make you feel good when you do things that are more likely to keep you alive (in an evolutionary sense). This means, among other things, don’t spit out the tasty food.

Sugar is more than just *sweet taste good stuff*

It serves to maintain physical processes that are absolutely essential to functioning/living and are more or less unrelated to the actual taste of the thing.

Think about drinking something – you need water to survive so you have a biological urge to drink – I love mtn dew Baja blast to me it’s the greatest soda of all time amazing crisp flavor etc etc if I’m thirsty no matter how delicious the beverage is if I drink some but spit it out I get the delicious blast of lime flavor but it doesn’t serve the same biological purpose as just drinking it

The urge to swallow food is an important part of natural selection. If we had ancestors that were satisfied by simply chewing food and spitting it out, they probably didn’t get enough calories to survive long enough to pass on their genes. A hormone called ghrelin is responsible for making us feel hungry, and ghrelin is only suppressed when enough food enters our stomachs to signal that we are full. Eating high-calorie foods (usually sweet or fatty things) also releases dopamine, which is a reward our bodies give us for eating those high-energy foods. Without physically swallowing, our brains never receive the full chemical reward from our bodies, since we didn’t do the whole eating thing the way natural selection intended. It’s nature’s way of saying “you messed that up, keep trying”.

You don’t eat food for the taste. You eat food because it’s necessary for survival. It’s like asking why watch a movie when you could just watch the trailer? You’re not getting anything close to the full experience.

Food is full of things we need, and just swilling it around your mouth isn’t going to keep you alive.

And in general, our bodies are set-up to encourage things which keep us alive. Eating, sleeping, making babies. They all feel good, because they’re good for us.