Why Eating At Your Desk Is Bad For You
Picture this: You’re walking on a ledge that is 3 feet wide, and there is a 6,000 foot drop on either side of you.
You’re wrought with focus and dripping with sweat. The saliva has all but disappeared from your mouth. You’re teeming with anxiety and beyond ready to get off this rock. As you go to take your next step, you pull your lunch from your pocket and decide to have a little bite on the go…
Now consider why eating at your desk is bad for you:
It induces many of the same physical reactions as the daring stunt described above.
Something to Be Nervous About
At the most basic level, our nervous system has two ways that it responds to our external environment. It’s important to understand what they do and why they occur.
The Sympathetic aka Fight or Flight
During any stressful situation we may find ourselves in, the body increases its heart rate, slows the metabolism, decreases saliva production, and increases your blood glucose.
This is to make you super human so you can run away from a bear and punch a sea lion in the face.
Yet, that doesn’t sound like the best time to pull out that sprouted whole grain tempeh with avocado sandwich, which I’m sure you packed for lunch, does it?
Now, these ‘stressful’ situations have become quite commonplace in our day-to-day lives:
– Walking on a cliff (okay, for most of us, probably not at work…)
– Checking work email
– Watching or reading the news
– Surfing social media and seeing all of the amazing things people are doing with their annoying smiles (they can’t possibly be that happy on a Wednesday, can they?)
– Feeling rushed to complete a project
So let’s just get this straight – when I check my work email, it’s like tightroping over the Grand Canyon?
When it comes to your digestion, absolutely.
Let’s discover what the other side of the nervous system does, and how to ‘turn it on.’
The Parasympathetic AKA Rest and Digest
It increases saliva, slows the heart rate, increases the release of stored bile (used to break down food) and starts intestinal movement. It’s a state of calm and will maximize the nutritional yield from the food that you eat.
Sounds like what you want when you’re lunching, right?
So how can you create an environment that will help your parasympathetic nervous system kick in?
First, get the heck away from your desk. Eating at your desk is bad for you. Period. There are a million things to do there all day long, so you can allot yourself a few minutes to get away and allow yourself some time to nourish your body.
Turn off all electronics. Yes, all of them 🙂 The computer, phone, tablet, laptop, and TV. All of these things provide stimulus and have you thinking about everything but what you are eating.
Put your fork down in between bites. This allows you to not only savor your food and all of its deliciousness, but it also lets you be aware of when you are starting to get full!
Masticate, Masticate, Masticate. Sounds dirty, but it’s just a fancy word for chewing. Chew each bite until it is almost liquid. Your saliva contains amylase, which is the first chemical aid towards digestion, so let it do its’ job.
Just Eat. Don’t multi-task. Remember: this causes you to stand on the edge of a great precipice (sympathetically speaking).
Find a Friend. Have a conversation. Since 1/2 of Americans eat lunch alone, we are likely to get lonely. Yet another incredible result of capitalism. So find a friend. Sit down and look at each other. It might be weird at first, but you’ll be amazed at the people you meet and the memories you create that are totally removed from the emails, work calls, and TPS reports.
I find that once I understand the “why” behind something, it really helps me form a better, more informed opinion. So, I hope you have a slightly better understanding of why eating at your desk is bad for you, how to avoid it, and how to enjoy your lunch and digest the heck out of your food.
Let me know how it works for you!
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