How to Avoid a Food Coma after Lunch

November 20, 2017
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in Blog
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So you’ve had a busy morning and it’s time for lunch. For many people, work lunches involve buying food from the company cafeteria, or heading out to one of the many eateries that cater to the workweek lunch crowd. Taking your full lunch break is a great way to decompress and prepare for the work in the afternoon (see our blog on how to do the business lunch healthfully), but there is one outcome every productive worker wants to avoid: the food coma.

The “Food Coma” which is so ubiquitous it was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2014, is that feeling of sleepiness that overtakes people after a big meal. You may know it by a different name like “the itis,” or “after dinner dip,” but you probably haven’t heard of the technical term: “postprandial somnolence.”  We most commonly think of it happening after big holiday meals (like Thanksgiving) but a food coma after lunch can ruin afternoon productivity. So how can we all prevent the food coma…

Don’t go too big: A study in young men tested whether a low or high calorie lunch would have a greater impact on sleepiness during a monotonous drive (don’t worry, the drive was in a simulator). Researchers found that the larger meal caused a much greater lull in attentiveness and trend toward greater sleepiness compared to the smaller meal.

Tip: Pack your lunch the night before, or make sure to exercise your ordering skills at a restaurant to ensure your meal is less calorie dense. Use the Healthy Dining Finder to locate a restaurant with healthy options near you, or check out some of B. Komplete’s healthy ordering tips for business lunches.

Keep those carbohydrates complex: One theory for feeling sleepy after meals has to do with the amount and types of carbohydrates we eat. There is evidence that eating easily digestible simple carbohydrates (like white flour and sugary desserts) causes sleepiness by increasing blood sugar and subsequent insulin production. That increase in insulin production happens concurrently with increases in hormones like melatonin which causes sleepiness, and inhibition of orexin neurons which help maintain wakefulness. Multiple studies show greater sleepiness and earlier onset of sleep with meals higher refined and total carbohydrate.   Tip: Try to keep your post-meal surge in blood sugar slow and controlled by choosing healthy, complex forms of carbohydrates like whole grains. Also be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables that add healthy fiber and slow the digestion of carbohydrate in the gut.

Avoid high fat meals: A study done in over 700 Australian men found that those who ate diets higher in fat reported experiencing greater daytime sleepiness than those with lower fat intake.  Tip: Keep your lunch light on the grease! Heavier, fatty foods like pizza and burgers might just exacerbate your post-meal lull. Also consider the type of fat you eat. Typical fast food often contains lots of saturated fat, the fat we typically consider less healthy. Instead, choose foods full of healthy unsaturated fats like guacamole, or a salad with a vinegar and olive oil, nuts and seeds.  

 

Get a good night’s sleep: The experience of a “afternoon dip” doesn’t have everything to do with your meal. At least some of this post-lunch sleepiness is due to natural fluctuations of your circadian rhythm which can be exacerbated by the content of your meals. However, another major factor for your desire for an afternoon nap? Sleep debt. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans is sleep-deprived and you’re much less likely to feel energized after lunch if you didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. Poor sleep is also associated with poor food choices, which can exacerbate the food coma, creating a vicious cycle…  Tip: Set an alarm not just for the morning, but for bedtime and hold yourself to it! Ensuring you get enough sleep will not only help you stake wakeful throughout the workday, but will also help you make healthy food choices at lunch!

It might feel great to take a nap after a satisfying meal, but this isn’t an option when you’re busy at work. Prioritizing healthy, light lunches and adequate sleep at nighttime can help you maintain your productivity and prevent the dreaded food coma.

However, if you’re like many Americans, you have a hectic work day and prioritizing healthful behaviors can be difficult. Check out B.Komplete’s post on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule!

B.Educated, B.Inspired, B.Komplete

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The Untapped Power of Mindfulness Meditation

November 4, 2017
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in Blog
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Let’s rewind to 2014 for a moment. B.Komplete was just getting started and I was just beginning to develop the wellness programs you see from us today.  While researching comprehensive wellness programs, one of the keys to well-being that I discovered was the power of mindfulness and meditation. Well-being is far more than physical health – mental and emotional health are also vital to overall wellness. With this in mind, myself and my team developed a variety of stress reduction tools to guide anyone to a healthier mindset. B.Komplete now offers life coaching, yoga, meditation, chair massage, acupuncture, stress reduction stations, stress reduction seminars, workshops, and stress reduction challenges.

Fast forward to 2017 when I had been away from the “front lines” for a bit too long, and knew that I had to get out there.  I decided it made sense for me to personally teach one of our stress reduction workshops. At this point I was practicing yoga frequently and had learned a little bit about meditation and how to use it. However, I had never really focused on becoming mindful myself, and I had definitely never committed to doing so on a consistent basis. I am a firm believer that in order to be the most effective teacher you can be, you must have personal experience with the subject matter. I wanted to experience the power of mindfulness and meditation for myself, and be able to share my experience with others. Here’s a little bit more about my journey to unlock my power through mindfulness meditation…

How my mindfulness meditation journey began.

I started with a 30 day mindfulness meditation practice. I practiced between 5 and 8 minutes daily and it was perfect. I found that it was really helpful to practice first thing in the morning, before starting work.

The changes I experienced during the first 30 days…

First of all, I gained an awareness that I had not been very mindful at all before starting this practice. As I made my way through the first 30 days I grew a whole new view of the world around me. I appreciated the nature, the scenery, and the leaves on the trees so much more. My world became much more vivid, more beautiful, and more inspirational, as I became more mindful.

My overall impression of my mindfulness and meditation practice…

It blew my mind! It totally changed my life by expanding my horizons and changing the way I perceived the world. I started noticing I was able to handle my stress in a much healthier way and had this new, positive outlook on life. I was more capable of handling stressful situations. As soon as I started my practice, I developed resiliency. When life tried to knock me down, I came back stronger and more focused. I started to notice my reactions changing. When difficult situations presented themselves I resorted to my practice.

The specific factors that helped me gain the full potential of my practice…

Developing a personal mantra was incredibly beneficial to me. In times when stress was mounting inside me, I came back to my breath and my mantra. The mantra drew me back to the present moment and brought me clarity and focus. I could feel the anger, frustration, stress, and other negative emotions dissipate as I focused myself on the present moment using my mantra. The way I see a mantra, is as a tool to change your mindset. I developed my mantra to help motivate me professionally by using words I connected deeply with to create a phrase I knew would help me get my mind back on the right track.

Life before mindfulness meditation…

I have been a high stress person throughout my entire life. Stress has always been a major factor in my life, and probably always will be. Soon after starting graduate school I noticed I was losing large clumps of hair. I was obviously alarmed, and saw my doctor. The doctor told me, “you need to chill out a little bit, don’t let the school kill you.” Like I said, stress was a major factor for me. I noticed other physical changes in my body during periods of great stress. My body weight would fluctuate, my jaw would be sore from grinding my teeth, I had dark circles under my eyes. I could tell my body was not happy with the way I was handling stress.

As a business professional, mindfulness helps me work.

Mindfulness has greatly benefited me from a professional standpoint. When business gets overwhelming, I take a step back and focus on what is going on right now. Mindfulness makes the tough stuff easier to handle. One thing I have struggled with in the past is focusing too much on the future. I would start to think about everything I had on my to do list and it became cumbersome. Mindfulness has helped me take a step back. I take things day by day now. I focus on what needs to be accomplished each day, and I do it. This has made my life so much more manageable. I find much more happiness and excitement in my day to day work now that I concentrate on one day instead of worrying about the next 3 months!

Recommended tools to get started with mindfulness and meditation.

The Center for Wellness at Harvard University has great resources from guided meditations to mindfulness tools. When I was first starting my practice I used online, guided meditations.

B.Komplete offers a wide variety of stress reduction programs. If you are interested in personally benefitting from a mindfulness and meditation practice, and would like to share this gift with your office group, contact us at info@bkomplete.com for additional information and to schedule our stress reduction events. 

B.Educated, B.Inspired, B.Komplete

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