It’s 11 a.m. and your stomach starts to growl — do you know where your lunch is?
There are countless benefits of breaking for lunch during your work day — reducing stress, increasing concentration, sustaining energy, feeling better and many more. However, unhealthy food choices and overeating can greatly hinder, if not cancel out, those positive results. By including better-for-you food and beverage choices and being mindful while eating, you can boost the positive benefits and fuel your body to get you through the rest of your workday with vitality.
Mindful eating is a skill that takes practice. It means avoiding emotional food decisions and distractions at meal time. When we eat “mindlessly” we are not really present during our mealtime, which can lead to health problems. Don’t let emotions, stress or deadlines sway your ability to maintain healthy eating habits during a busy work day. Practice being present, enjoy a breather, savor each bite and come back to work recharged.
Tips for a Mindful and Healthy Business Lunch
- When eating out, research the restaurant ahead of time. Most restaurants have online menus available. Check out apps that can help you find healthy dining options in your area or that reveal the nutritional content of many foods. Figure out your meal ahead of time and avoid the risk of impulse ordering.
- Drink a big glass of water before you start your lunch break. Research has shown that drinking about 16 ounces of water prior to a meal can help you avoid temptations. Additionally, thirst and hunger triggers come from the same part of your brain, meaning that while you may feel hungry, you could just be thirsty. Drinking water 15 minutes before eating can help curb cravings and discourage overeating.
- Pack your lunch the night before. Your work day is busy enough. Avoid a hectic morning and pack something the night before when you’ve had a chance to decompress and can make mindful decisions. Have you heard about “salad in a jar” — it’s a solution for a healthy, custom and delicious grab-and-go option.
- When eating with others, remember to savor. It’s easy to get distracted by office chatter when networking with colleagues. Eating becomes so automatic that you may look down at your plate and notice your food already is gone. Savor each bite. For example, notice the texture of the food in your mouth or identify the different flavors as you chew to help avoid overeating.
Healthy Eating Tips for Dining Out
- Order the smallest size available
- Choose to drink water, unsweetened tea or club soda
- Request that the bread/chips be brought out with your meal or avoid altogether
- Ask for dressing or light sauce on the side
- Choose grilled, baked, poached or steamed proteins
- Aim to make a meal out of a salad and additional protein
- Share your appetizer, salad, entrée and/or dessert
- Use lemon, olive oil, and/or vinegar to flavor
There are many reasons to take a lunch break and keep it sacred. Remember that lunch can be delicious and healthy. Schedule a daily break to refresh your mind and feed your belly. Your body and your company will thank you for it!