Do you eat lunch at the computer? Do you keep snacks by your desk?
The average American spends roughly 8 hours a day on the computer. If we’re in front of the screen that amount of time can we afford not to separate our food from our screen time? Even if you’re eating at your desk, but not looking at the computer, there are benefits associated with eating away from your desk.
Here’s what we have to gain:
1. More enjoyment of our food
Food is meant to be savored. Is it possible to savor while checking email? If we love what we’re eating and have selected it mindfully then slowing down and focusing on the process of eating will inevitably cut back on stress, a key component of overall well-being. The simple act of walking away from the screen can create a habit that increases our enjoyment of food . Saying grace may add even more pleasure as implied in the study To Savor the Flavor, Perform a Short Ritual First
2. More focus on our portion size
It’s easy to eat more than we need if our attention is on our computer. If we’re in a relaxed atmosphere it’s easier to focus on our portions, chew thoroughly and stop when full. Consider the study Playing a computer game during lunch affects fullness, memory for lunch, and later snack intake. Half the participants played computerized solitaire while eating lunch while the other half had no distraction.
“Distracted individuals were less full after lunch, and they ate significantly more biscuits in the taste test than did non-distracted participants.”
The study concludes, “The presence of distracting stimuli during eating increases the meal size and could thereby contribute to overeating and obesity.”
3. Greater work efficiency
Do you feel fatigued after eating? Do you crave sweets after your meal? Do you need a stimulant to get through the day? These are all signs of a possible issue with insulin resistance and eating at your computer while ingesting excessive carbs or sweets may perpetuate this cycle. Separating your meal from your work, eating slowly and even walking to and from your meal can help you avoid the post-meal crash and increase your focus when you return.
4. Less chance of bacterial contamination
Food and computers don’t mix well. In addition to the risk of spills there is the risk of bacterial contamination simply by browsing and eating. Consider the study Computer Keyboard and Mice: Potential Sources of Disease Transmission and Infections,
“It has been realized that one main cause of bacterial contamination of computer keyboards and mice in non-hospital setting is through eating while working with the computer in the office or browsing the internet with the computer. As a result some food crumbs and spills can wind up on and between the keyboard keys and on the mouse buttons. Given that computers are not routinely disinfected, the opportunity for the transmission of contaminating microorganism is potentially great.”
5. Less risk of computer vision syndrome
Screen time is taking its toll on our eyes. Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is a condition affecting up to 90% of office workers. Symptoms include eyestrain, tired eyes, irritation, redness, blurred vision, and double vision. While not necessarily permanent, these conditions can lead to some serious discomfort and may be alleviated by spending less time on our devices. According to the study, Computer Vision Syndrome Reviewed, “The major contributor to computer vision syndrome symptoms by far appears to be dry eye.” Also cited: lighting, glare, display quality, refresh rates and radiation.
While I’ve determined to stop eating at the computer, I still enjoy a nice cup of tea while browsing or working. I acknowledge the risk of a spill. But the benefit of taking a break for a meal or snack makes sense. What do you think?
*Interested in the gluten-free, grain-free muffin in the photo above? Check out our almond flour muffin recipe found here.