Reclaim Your Lunch Hour. Reclaim Your Health.
It's not only about what you eat.
It's about how you eat.
Yes – tangible building blocks of nutrition are important.
Calories consumed, energy burned and macronutrient ratios will always be a part of the conversation, but they may not be as important as we’d previously believed. As the field of nutrition grows, the focus has shifted to embrace a more holistic approach where the body and mind are interchangeable.
Your body’s ability to digest and metabolize food goes beyond the nutritional breakdown of the food itself. Factors in your control, like the rhythm and frequency at which you eat throughout the day, your relaxation level, the quality of your food and the pleasure you find in meals, all play a large role when it comes to your health.
Nutrition and eating psychology expert, Marc David, tells us, “40-60% of your total digestive and assimilative power at any meal comes from this head phase of digestion – taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction, the visuals; i.e. your awareness of the meal.”
We now know, the way you eat impacts your digestion, energy level, weight and productivity.
A few slight shifts in your current behaviors can improve your health. And you can implement them right now.
Here are 4 things to do today …
Remove yourself from your desk – take a break from desk-based eating and staring at your screen. Use your senses. Eat with your eyes. Smell what you’re about to put in your body. Be present with your meal. Changing your environment from that of work to one of rest will increase your awareness and help you reduce mindless eating.
Take a breath – better yet, take three. It’s a great way to reset and switch gears. In a few seconds, you can remove yourself from your morning and everything you still have to do. Find a moment for you. If you’re open to it, the 4-7-8 breathing exercise is a great introductory tool that will help you transition from work to eating (and no one will know you’re doing it). It’s simple – sit up straight and exhale completely through your mouth, inhale through your nose to the count of 4, hold it for a count of 7 then exhale completely through your mouth to the count of 8. Repeat as needed.
Slow your pace – sit with your meal. In time, you’ll learn to listen to your body and eat intuitively. You were born with hunger cues, and though they’ve likely decreased in time, they’re desperately wanting to be heard and listened to. In their study evaluating the relationship between eating in response to hunger and satiety signals and BMI, Madden, Leong, Gray and Horwath (2012) found an inverse association between intuitive eating and Body Mass Index (BMI). This tells us eating in response to hunger cues (hunger and satiety) is strongly associated with lower BMI. Simply put, if you want a healthy body you need to listen to it.
Share your meal – food is more enjoyable when shared with others. Conversing over a meal will naturally slow the pace at which you eat. It will also allow you to catch up with co-workers and friends, leaving you with a sense of community and support. Discuss work if you have to, but try to keep the stress level low.
You have the power to control the way you eat. Yes, you may have setbacks as your workload shifts and life happens, but you can begin to shift your baseline now. Like everything else, it takes practice. Use these suggestions to build new habits – all you have to do is start.
You deserve a break. Reclaim your lunch hour. Reclaim your health.