Eat slower. Breathe more.

Spending a full 15 minutes eating your lunch is harder than it sounds. Why does it matter anyway?

Psychology of Eating guy Marc David gives a lot of good reasons for slowing down when it comes to eating. You should read this book (even though it has the D-word in the title). But until you do, here are some reasons to slow lunch down:

  • Fast eating generates a kind of stress that can prevent your body from getting the most fuel from food (even the lunchtime made-with-love brought-from-home) kind.

  • Feeling stress or anxiety in general while you eat may cause you to store extra, less-helpful fat on your body.

  • You can’t enjoy the flavor of food if it’s barely in your mouth long enough to taste it. (So, seriously, why bother?)

Mr. David talks, too, about how your body needs oxygen to turn any food into fuel. Breathing is good, it turns out. So here’s one way to slow down:

To remind yourself to slow down and breathe while you eat your lunch, take two or three deep breaths after you swallow each bite.

Does this feel weird? Or relaxing? Maybe a little of both at first. Try it and see how it works for you.

The Four Tendencies Quiz

Wondering why you can’t get (or stay) motivated to make lunch and take some time for yourself? Maybe those tips and tricks that work beautifully for your friends just aren’t working for you.

This quiz might help you understand why, give you better ways to stay on track, and keep on keeping those promises you’ve made to yourself.

You’re a winner. You deserve this. Don’t quit.

3 Reasons Your Box Lunch Lifestyle Makes Every Day Earth Day


Happy Earth Day! Do you realize how healthy-planet-friendly your Box Lunch Lifestyle is? (It IS!)

    Just say no to landfill-type waste today. If you really, really need a straw, try one from these folks, and check out today’s LunchBot’s sale for some of BLL’s favorite non-plastic containers*.

    Eat up that food you made. (But don’t be dumb about it. Experts say you have 3 or 4 days max before you enter the food safety danger zone.)

    Rain or shine, today’s the day to be that person who gets outside more. Just 15 minutes can remind you how wonderful the great outdoors can be.

    *This is NOT a paid ad. LunchBots has high-quality stuff that’s not only for kids. See for yourself.

BLL and Mindful Eating

I love the name “mindful” eating, and I love even more “intuitive” eating. Doesn’t it sound intellectual and urbane?

Mindful eating theory suggests that if we really pay attention to when we’re hungry, and what we’re hungry for, our food choices will be obvious. Some people think it’s the secret to losing weight.

But just like other approaches to eating, this one isn’t THE answer—to losing weight or anything else. The way the human brain dances with food is complicated. So, to me, mindful eating is simply this: more information for you to consider and decide for yourself what works for you.

Here’s one way that mindful eating might (or might not) fit into your personal Box Lunch Lifestyle strategy:

  • Paying attention to when you’re hungry is smart. If you’re hungry an hour after lunch, you might need more—or different—lunch food.

  • Be skeptical of craving non-homemade food. An hour after lunch, are you hungry for a chicken leg or for Peeps? (Which you do think is the obvious “better” food choice?)

Your Box Lunch Lifestyle will help you practice self-awareness and food savvy. If you’re curious about mindful eating, lunch is the perfect place to test things out. You’re learning to trust yourself, but not kid yourself.

If you’d like more tips on mindful eating and BLL, or have ones you want to share, let me know and I’ll post more thoughts on this down the road.

Companies We ❤️: Simply Organic

It’s cool that Simply Organic is part of a member-owned co-op that includes other quality spice and oil purveyors. But what’s even cooler is how easy make-it-yourself can be with their spice mixes. (The Southwest Taco Seasoning Mix is a home run.)

Bored with the usual? The Fresh Spring Roll Bowl with Ginger Peanut Sauce recipe is bit farther off the beaten path. I’d eat it!

Convenience vs. Quality

Being convenient doesn’t automatically make something a poor quality something. For example, having a full-time housekeeper is convenient (so I’m told). Building a website using pre-packaged code is REALLY convenient. (Thank you, Squarespace.) Grabbing barbecue sauce off the shelf is pretty handy, too.

carrot 1-9.jpg

I don’t think, though, that what we call “convenience foods” come anywhere near the quality of what you make yourself. Those bullet-y little carrots that you get in a sack don’t hold a candle to the ones you buy with tops still on that you wash and cut up yourself.

We all have to prioritize. I get it. And bullet-y carrots are a “better” lunch choice than microwave popcorn. But let’s not pretend like we’re not just a tiny bit settling for poorer quality—both carrot quality and the care we’re putting into our food and giving ourselves.

Which carrot do you want? Which carrot can you get? Neither choice is good or bad, but it is an example of a small choice most of us carrot-eaters make.

The bigger question is: Are you settling on other things, too, instead of what you want? Again, not good or bad, but notice.

Making real connections.

You know those people who love to bring you some juicy tidbit about someone else? This news-bringer could be a drama-prone relative or a neighbor, but lots of times it’s a coworker. This person considers you a friend, but the whispering over today’s juiciness usually doesn’t end with everyone feeling good about life.

Researcher Brene Brown calls this common enemy intimacy. It’s an attempt to bond with someone over shared hated-things. It’s a kind of relationship hot-wiring that replaces building trust and real friendship. I think these are often the work “friends” that vanish once you don’t work together anymore. You don’t have the same things to complain about, so you stop talking altogether. Sigh.

I think you deserve better than that.

And you can use your lunch break to get it. Try distancing yourself (at least at lunchtime) from this kind of person. Or—even better—look for opportunities to make real connections. Who would you like to connect with (at work or anywhere)? Who thinks like you do? Who, instead of gossiping, would be cheering your better food choices or that you’re finally making time to get outside, or to build your spaceship, or whatever. Those conversations and connections are more likely to leave you feeling better about life, not slightly like you need a shower.

Connecting to the people (and the world) around you in a real way matters. You don’t have find new BFFs, and you don’t need to snub people at work who are bringing you down. Whatever small step you can take today, moving towards better, healthier, and “funner” relationships is…better.

Lunch Advocate: Daniel H. Pink

In his book WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Mr. Pink offers this advice:

“…if you’re concerned about the peril of the afternoon, start taking more seriously the often-maligned and easily dismissed meal called lunch.” (p. 64)

“…it’s time we paid more attention to lunch, because social scientists are discovering it’s far more important to our performance than we realize.” (p. 65)

Some studies, Mr. Pink says, show lunch-eaters were better able to deal with stress and generally had more energy not just for the day, but that recharging at lunch can pay off up to a year later.

What’s not to love about that?

Is your personal aspiration a SKILL?

Lots of times the word “skill” gets paired up with words like “job” and “boring.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Is there a missing skill keeping you from something that feels meaningful or just plain exciting?

Think about it. See how many honest responses you can write down to fill in this sentence:

“If someone could show me how to [X], I could finally [start on that X] I’ve always wanted.”

Small Wins: Change just one meal.

Wins feel good—even the tiniest ones.

Lunch is a great way to set up a totally winnable step towards choosing better food for you because it’s just one meal. You don’t have to empty out your pantry or give up whole categories of beloved foods. You can eat what’s best for you just for your workday lunch For example, any food you can make for yourself is better than something from a vending machine. And if you want to eat more vegetables, start by just adding two to your lunch and not worrying about how to convince your kids and partner to eat them at dinner.


Go-To Ingredient: Sweet Potatoes

First things first: What you see at your grocery store is almost certainly NOT a yam. It’s a sweet potato.

Why are sweet potatoes so great?

  • They are simple to cook. You don’t even have to peel them.

  • You can make a lot of dishes from them—from soup to fries.

  • They store (raw or cooked) for several days in the refrigerator.

This easy-to-add vegetable is also a good helper for those of us craving a little something sweet after lunch. They aren’t candy, but they might be sweet enough to save you from other workplace temptations.

Work Tip: Hide your lunch.

Does something or someone routinely keep you from a break in the work action at lunch time? Try hiding your food.

If your lunch is, say, hidden in your car, or in the refrigerator on another floor of your building, or wherever, you’ll have to escape—if even for just a few minutes—to get it. That way even if you can’t take the kind of break you deserve, you at least have a chance to physically and mentally shake off the “I am work” fog for a few minutes.

I do not [heart] the weight loss game.

There are a ton of reasons for this, but here’s one: Some of the pieces we use to play this game are faulty.

Let’s say, for example, we’re playing a weight loss game that’s based on calories.

Right now I’m looking at a box that says that a serving of these crackers has 150 calories. What does that mean? If you want a short, good lesson on calories, listen to this podcast. My interpretation, though, is that the calorie value of these crackers is a rough measure of some kind of food chemistry energy. Just like a standardized test score for school kids, it’s just one rough estimate of what these crackers can do for you. These crackers will probably do something different for you than they will for, say, Mike Tyson. Or your grandmother.

What about how much fat is in these crackers? Or what kind of fat? What about where they were made, or who made them? What about the fact that I LOVE these crackers? (I just threw others away that I refuse to make myself eat.) How would they compare to a cracker I could make myself?

If you’re counting calories, I feel like you’re playing a game with faulty pieces.

A Box Lunch Lifestyle means choosing food based on other criteria, maybe food that you look forward to eating that makes you happy, or made from ingredients that won’t keep you from being healthy. Whatever it is, that food should be working for YOU.

What is your REAL energy-generating lunch food? I say make the rules that work for you. That’s a game you can actually win.

The bell rings--ready or not.

Believe it or not, lunch and boxing have a lot common. For example:

The bell at the beginning of a boxing round rings and the fight starts whether you’re ready for it or not. But it also ends—ready or not. People seem to think that “saved by the bell” is a good thing and that the boxer must ALWAYS be ready to be done. But if you’re winning, you may not want the fight to end. If you’re losing, you may want just a little more time to turn things around.

Personally, I don’t want to be at the end of my life’s rounds wondering why I didn’t start fighting as soon as the bell rang and I had the chance, or sad that my time is up before I could do whatever it is that I needed to do to win. The bell’s not going to wait for any of us.

Use your lunch today to do that thing or be that person you want to be. Don’t wait.

You DO have time to cook.

I know you’re busy. I’m busy, too.

But what is the cost of NOT preparing your food at least for one meal on most days? Michael Pollan—a big-time advocate of home cooking—suggests that if we have time to be online for pleasure for as much as a couple hours per day, couldn’t replace some of that time with “better” food?

I’d love to hear what you think. What I think is that a little simple cooking for yourself isn’t as bad as you think.

Midday eating matters.

Do you know anything about Ayurveda? I don’t really either, but what I do know is that it’s a very old healing-type science. At the heart of it is balancing your lifestyle in a way that’s best for you personally.

Sound familiar?

This article describes one Ayurvedic principle like this:
Our ‘digestive fire’ is strongest when the sun is at its highest point of the day.“

If it’s true that we might digest our food better at midday—when both nature and You are want peak energy—it makes a lot of sense to build that better, balanced for Food + You lunch.

There's never a wrong time to start.

The thing about lunch is that it happens whether you’re intentional about it or not. So there’s never a wrong time to start. It’s not about creating the perfect lunch. It’s about a better one, and that can happen anytime.

But if you’re a person who likes to start at what feels like a “clean slate” point in time, today is both Monday AND the first day of the month. If you’re not already using your 15+15 for you, what’s your excuse? Start today.

Q: Do I have to have a "sparring partner"?

No. You don’t have to have anything.

What you want to have, though, is the best chance at doing your best.

Some of us are self-disciplined to a fault and get jazzed by the challenge of just about any kind of rule or goal. (You know who you are.)

But Box Lunch Lifestyle isn’t about following someone else’s rules. It’s about what gives you energy. Do you wanna do this lunch thing with a friend? Then go for it. If not, then keep it just for you. Lunch is still your training ground for trusting yourself, and deciding what rules you want or don’t want.

We’ll always have suggestions or ideas for how to make this work, but it’s always more than fine to do things your own way. It’s not like you need our permission or anything, but you have it (just in case).