There are so many things out there that you can soundproof. But there is one key subject that you also need to think about — you need to soundproof yourself, especially in front of others.
Of course, that only applies in certain situations, and I personally think that chewing loudly is one of them. Today, I’ll explain how to chew quietly and without disrupting anyone’s peace. But first — let’s see why the sound is so annoying anyway.
Why Do We Hate the Sound of Chewing?
Okay, the subheading might be a bit misleading. I should clarify that not everyone hates hearing other people chew. In fact, to a good number of people, chewing simply blends into the background with all of the other noises. But then again, some people are not bothered by baby cries, drilling noises, cats meowing at night, loud traffic, or arguments from the apartment next door.
Of course, to most people, the sounds that I’ve just listed are, by no means, pleasant, but they are, at worst, a nuisance. However, there are times when loud chewing and other man-made sounds can trigger a strong emotional response, to the point when it’s considered a disorder. As it happens, that disorder has a name — misophonia.
The term “misophonia” comes from Greek words μίσος and φωνή, which literally translate to “hate” and “sound.” People who suffer from misophonia react negatively to various man-made sounds, and their reactions can vary from mild to extreme. For instance, mild cases of this disorder will show anxiety, discomfort, or disgust. On the other hand, extreme cases involve panic attacks, emotional distress, fear, and uncontrollable rage.
As a phonophobia trigger, chewing falls under the category of oral sounds, which also includes breathing, sighing, yawning, and whistling. Other triggers include sounds made by human limbs and other parts of the body, like finger tapping, shuffling in one’s seat, foot taps, joint cracking, etc.
Do I Have Misophonia If I’m Annoyed by Chewing?
You might feel a mild irritation when someone is chewing loudly, but that doesn’t mean you suffer from misophonia.
Of course, there are some telltale signs when it comes to this disorder. If you find yourself getting more irritated than usual when it comes to everyday man-made sounds, you might want to consult an expert. Although misophonia can be crippling, there are support groups out there that can help you cope.
There is one upside to misophonia, oddly enough. If you happen to be diagnosed with this condition, you’re likely a person with a high intellect. People who excel in certain sciences and arts usually tend to have heightened, sensitive hearing and need complete silence in order to work. In other words, you might be enraged by your peers chewing loudly, but you’re also incredibly smart, AND your sense of hearing is off the charts.
Are You the One Who Chews Too Loudly?
So far, I’ve discussed the possibility of getting annoyed by the sound of chewing, and we will get back to it at the end of this article. However, the boot, as they say, may well be on the other foot — you could be the one who chews too loudly.
And what’s worse, people might not want to let you know because they fear they might hurt your feelings or enter a confrontation with you. Moreover, they might be suffering from misophonia, so they could be afraid of lashing out at you.
Whatever the case may be, as a loud chewer, you might need to curb that habit. But as a former loud chewer myself, I understand that it can be hard. After all, you don’t really hear yourself do it — you just do it, so it feels natural. As someone who has had to chew a certain way their entire life, training yourself to do it differently can be difficult.
Tips on Chewing Quietly
With that in mind, think of the following tips as a type of mental exercise regime — like a workout. If you continue to abide by them, soon enough, you’ll be chewing in silence subconsciously.
1. Eat Slowly
When someone is describing an annoying loud chewer, what’s the usual image you have in mind? To most people, it’s an individual who constantly stuffs their face, cramming the next bite in before swallowing the previous one.
Now, if you’re doing this while home alone, I can understand and even empathize on a certain level. It was a hard day at work, and you’re tired and hungry as a wolf. Naturally, the very second you see food, you start devouring it like an animal. We’ve all been there!
However, by eating slowly, you will not only make less noise but also appreciate the meal in an entirely new way. Allowing yourself to savor your meal will help you feel elated and give an entirely new meaning to the word “full.” In fact, even when you’re craving food more than anything, finally getting to eat it will feel even more spectacular if you pace yourself.
2. Close Your Mouth
An open mouth not only allows food to escape but also lets air in, which can lead to smacking and slurping sounds. These sounds are the bane of quiet dining, and they can easily be avoided by simply closing your mouth while you eat. It’s a small change in habit, but it has a substantial impact on the noise level.
Moreover, keeping your mouth closed while chewing helps in savoring the flavor of your food, as it allows your taste buds to fully experience the taste. This practice also encourages better digestion and reduces the likelihood of passing gas afterward, as you are more likely to chew your food thoroughly and swallow less air.
To successfully implement this habit, remember to close your mouth every time you take a bite. Refrain from talking, drinking, smoking, or engaging in any activity that could cause your mouth to open. You need to keep your lips sealed while letting your jaw do the work. By consistently practicing this technique, you will not only chew quietly but also promote overall dining etiquette and well-being.
3. Try Non-Crunchy Food
Apples, carrots, celery, crackers, biscuits — so many food items out there are just…noisy. In fact, people will recognize the famous “bite into the apple” sound almost as often as the red color of the fruit.
Naturally, I’m not saying that you should avoid eating crunchy food altogether. But if you want to chew quietly, you might at least limit the intake. Instead of biting into the whole apple, cut it down into pieces and consume it that way. It will make little noise, and you’ll still get your daily vitamin intake.
The same goes for other fruits and vegetables; in terms of sweet and salty snacks, I’d suggest eating less of them overall.
4. Close Your Eyes
This tip might sound odd, but closing your eyes might help you chew quietly. It’s a bit of a psychological trick you can play on your body.
When we shut off one sense, the others compensate, no matter how briefly. So, by “getting rid” of your sense of sight, your sense of taste will give your meal its undivided attention. You’ll be able to focus on the meal and, in turn, reduce the chewing noise.
5. Focus on Eating
Maybe tip #4 doesn’t work for you, or maybe you simply like looking at your meal while eating it. If that’s the case, then try to focus on the meal in front of you and shut everything else out. If you look at your phone or flip through the channels, you’ll absentmindedly begin to stuff your face. But if your eyes, ears, and hands are on the meal alone, you can enjoy it with a lot fewer chewing noises in the background.
6. Block out Other Noises
Eating in public can definitely be an enjoyable experience, but the outside noises can make you chew loudly. It’s not even necessarily something you do consciously; sometimes, noise will simply beget more noise.
If you have to eat in a public area, like a meeting room or a cafeteria, try to completely shut out every other noise around you. Don’t focus on conversations or random sounds, ignore any equipment booming in the background, etc.
7. Avoid Alcohol While Eating
Now, not everyone drinks alcohol during a meal. Personally, I enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, but overall, I don’t drink anything alcoholic while eating.
However, at some point, you will have to attend a social event where drinking and dining at the same time are expected. If that happens, try to focus on the food and take small sips. More importantly, don’t drink more than a glass or two.
Alcohol, even in small doses, can help us let loose and feel uninhibited. In such situations, we tend to ignore some actions, and focusing on chewing quietly might be difficult. So, when eating at home, get a drink once the meal is done.
8. Avoid Snacks
I mentioned loud food earlier, and snacks definitely fall under the “it’s rather loud” category. From salty foods like potato chips to sweet snacks like wafers, there’s a lot of noisy snacking out there. More often than not, these foods will cause you to chew loudly, but even if you’re a quiet chewer, nibbling on them can get on people’s nerves.
The first step is obvious — try eating fewer snacks and more healthy food. But if you can’t help but munch on some chips, try doing it one chip at a time, slowly. Just like every other food, a snack ought to be savored.
Moreover, lots of snacks come in packages that are too noisy to open in a public space. If you want to avoid people staring at you, put your snacks in a Ziploc bag before you go out. They are easy to open and make no sounds. Besides, you can literally get them anywhere at a low price.
9. Mask the Sound of Chewing
Now, I understand that you can’t always chew as quietly as a mouse. Sometimes you just need a little help to make your chewing less noticeable to others. Here are a few tactics I’ve picked up along the way.
Firstly, consider adding some consistent background noise to your environment. You can do this by playing music, having the TV on, or using ambient sounds. Just make sure the volume is at a level that masks the chewing but isn’t too loud to disrupt your eating process, as mentioned in tip #6.
If you find yourself at a larger gathering or eating in a public setting, be mindful of your seating choice. Position yourself a bit further from those who may be sensitive to chewing sounds. This small adjustment can make all the difference for your fellow diners.
Creating a cozy dining atmosphere can also help. Utilize soft materials like cushions, curtains, and rugs in your space to reduce the echoing of chewing noises.
Lastly, you might want to consider a white noise machine as your secret weapon. These devices produce a steady, non-intrusive noise that helps blend and cover other sounds, including chewing. It’s particularly handy when you’re eating in offices or similar environments. Give it a try!
How to Talk to Someone About Their Loud Chewing
The nine tips provided above are, for the most part, basic and should help you keep your chewing whisper-quiet. By applying these on a daily basis, you will be as quiet as a lamb during every meal.
But before we part ways, let’s quickly go back to the question of someone chewing loudly in your presence. Whether you suffer from misophonia or not, it can irritate you if that person is doing it constantly. Naturally, you’ll want to let them know that it bothers you. However, under no circumstances should you approach it like the author of this letter.
There are a few “guides” online on how to deal with a loud chewer. Some will say that you should confront them like in the example above, while others state that you need to be sneaky and “brainwash” the person into subconsciously eating more quietly.
Personally, I find both approaches to be faulty. The best way to go about this issue is to talk to the person politely, but directly. Explain to them why the chewing bothers you, why you think they should do something about it, and make it clear that you’re not the only one bothered by it. More often than not, they’ll be reasonable and make an effort to eat more quietly in the future.
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