Don't eat on the run

Most of us know that healthy eating and exercise are good for the body. It can help improve our mental and physical performance, and help reduce the risk of diseases like cardiovascular disease and some cancers. But with our lives getting busier, it can be hard to fit everything in.

When we do manage to find healthy options there is still the tendency for many us to eat on the run. 

A number of food manufacturers have recognised this, and have developed snacks and meal replacements that are small enough to carry in our handbags, packed to consume in cars or trains without creating mess, and which can often be eaten immediately or whipped up in less than 90 seconds.

Although these are seemingly great alternatives to a bowl of cereal with fruit and yogurt in the mornings, or a steak and salad in the evening, there can be a number of unhealthy side effects to eating on the run.

Stress can affect your metabolism

Dubious ingredients in quick and easy, pre-packed meals aside, the frantic rush as you drive from one activity to another, stuffing food in as you go to save time in your day, can be just as bad for your health.

When you’re in this rushed, stressed state, your body does what it can to protect itself and keep you safe and alive. Although driving from ballet to basketball doesn’t have the same life-threatening implications as being confronted by a sabre toothed tiger, the reaction of your body is no different; it prepares you for fight or flight, which means it raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and changes a heap of metabolic processes within your body.

When you’re in this intense state for a short time, your blood glucose levels rise to give you energy to act, and slows down non-essential processes like digestion. So you may not feel hungry because your blood glucose levels are up, and you may burn more energy in his heightened state of alertness. However, if you are stressed over long periods of time, this can lead to over-eating (especially high-fat high-sugar foods) due to the release of some stress hormones, and this can lead to weight gain and other stress-related effects on your health.
office worker eating his lunch at desk

Mind body disconnect

Eating doesn’t require a great deal of mental power, it can be easy to do it without thinking about it, and while you’re doing other things.

Eating on the run, or doing other activities while you’re eating may cause you to lose touch of the signals your body is giving you. You’re may be less tuned-in to knowing when you’re no longer hungry, or even when you’re full to bursting. These signals, if ignored for long enough, may become dull, and you may lose the ability to know when you are full and to determine if that rumble from your belly is actually signalling hunger, or something else.

You don’t taste the food

When you’re eating quickly, or focussed on other things, you’re probably not focused on the taste of your food. You may keep shoving the food in – whether it’s a salad or a bag of chips – without really tasting it or enjoying it.

Don’t eat on the run

Given food is such an important factor in our lives, and can have such profound impacts on your health and physical and psychological wellbeing, it’s important to take time to sit down with your food, and enjoy it.

Take the time to prepare a healthy balanced meal. Eating it slowly can help improve your digestion, and help you to listen to your body and its signals so that you get to know when you have eaten enough and are satisfied. It can also help you become more attuned to the foods you really like, and those you’d really prefer not to waste any more time on.
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