This topic has been on my mind for over a year so I was especially psyched to read an NPR article a few weeks ago on “We’re Not Taking Enough Lunch Breaks. Why That’s Bad for Business.”
I vouch for the idea of stepping away from your desk during lunchtime to recharge and get your creative juice back. Having spent many years in corporate America, I know this is a challenge for most people. I also wholeheartedly advocate for the concept of getting “the top managers to be part of this community of taking time off in the middle of the day to eat lunch, to go for a walk, to have a coffee break. They need to be included in the community and model that behavior for the rest of the workforce.” For change to stick, top management needs to encourage, respect and participate in mid-day meals so it can become a part of your company DNA. (Or at a minimum, respect others’ lunch breaks.)
For starters, here are 3 reasons why you should eat a mid-day meal instead of skipping it altogether. Nature walks, quiet time and exercise are all essential but, por favor, don’t eliminate lunch for your own good.
1. Follow the cycle of nature
I often read articles about the circadian rhythm from a Western viewpoint. These articles primarily talk about how this rhythm relates to sleep patterns. All good stuff!
In Eastern holistic medicine, the hours of a day fall into different cycles, and each cycle helps our body and mind do certain things better than in other cycles. It just so happens that between about 10am and 2pm is when our digestive power is the strongest so during this time, our body naturally becomes more transformation driven, making it the perfect time for eating. In fact, your meal in the middle part of the day should be your biggest meal. Ditching food (brunch or lunch) during this time stops us from getting the most important meal of the day, according to Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing system.
2. Eat mindfully
There is a lot of talk about mindfulness in business these days, and I see mindful eating fitting right into this concept. For the record, the idea of mindful eating has been around for thousands of years, I’m just making the connection between mindfulness in business and mindfulness in eating.
Stepping away from your desk to eat is not only great for your creativity but also for your digestion. Eating mindfully means fully engaging in the process of eating. Instead of gulping down your lunch while catching up on email, pay attention to the contents, flavors and colors of your food. Eat slowly and chew your food properly. When we are doing other things besides eating, our attention (and energy) shifts into different parts of our body rather than staying focused on the act of eating. One of the issues this may cause is overeating.
Ideally, you will want to eat in silence so power lunches are also off the table. I know! This is a huge shift from our work culture. Maybe think about it this way: eating is a form of meditation that helps you take in all the goodness with all of your senses to help recharge your batteries. Even if it only lasts 30 minutes.
3. Prevent the mid-afternoon energy crash
Right between around 2pm and 6pm is when our nervous system becomes very active, needing a lot of energy. It’s the perfect time for creative work—if your nervous system is optimally fed. If you didn’t have enough nutritious food or eat mindfully during the digestive part of the day, you may feel hungry, craving sugary or salty foods (office candy, anyone?), and/or become sleepy in the mid-afternoon. These may be signs of your nervous system demanding its mojo.
Stick with a good sized mid-day meal, it’s worth it—to you personally and professionally. Bon appetite!
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