Did you know that if you chew a saltine cracker for long enough, it starts to taste less salty and more sweet?
This was an experiment from my sixth grade science class. Our teacher asked us to chew one saltine for two minutes—a big ask for a bunch of hungry children in the class right before lunch. The idea was that it was supposed to teach us about how carbs are broken down by the enzymes in saliva (here’s the general idea in case you’re curious).
Well, this is the exact memory that went through my mind several weeks ago when The Muse had a wellness expert come into our office to talk about healthy work habits. She was explaining how we tend to overeat and thus make ourselves sick when we’re sitting at our desks all day distracted by our work, and advocated for us to try “mindful eating.”
The concept is all about experiencing your food (I know, I know, but stick with me here). Rather than wolfing something down as fast as possible simply because you’re hungry, you take the time to taste, chew, and digest each bite you take.
Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. The New York Times has explored this idea, too.
“Try this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love—let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli. Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry…Resist it…Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.”
Besides the fact that mindful eating is a great way to stay healthy (and maybe stick to those 2018 resolutions to eat better), it’s also—as its name suggests—a form of mindfulness. It forces you to slow down, take a break, and put yourself in the right mindset to continue your day.
And all it requires is eating your lunch away from your desk. As Muse writer Kat Boogaard found when she left her desk to eat lunch for a week, “I was never anybody who thought I needed some respite from my workday…However, after taking some time to just take a deep breath and reset for my afternoon, I’m now fully convinced of the power of taking breaks. Just that short stop in the middle of my day allowed me to return to my desk feeling motivated, focused, and levelheaded.”
So, if you’re interested in practicing being more mindful, but not sure how, eating away from your desk might be the perfect first step.
Plus, we can all agree our days are much more enjoyable when we’re not nursing an office-snack stomach ache.