You Make the Call is a series of posts aimed at answering real-life situations with various possible solutions ranging from bad to better to best. You may remember this series of commercials from the 1980s NFL TV broadcasts.
You have done the right thing. You brought a packed lunch to work. It has grass-fed beef, broccoli, and an apple. You ate a good breakfast of eggs and coffee at 7 AM. Your plan for the day was to eat lunch at noon. You went to a meeting away from your office at 11 AM that you assumed would be over by 11:45 AM. However, during the meeting it becomes clear to you this was meant to be a meeting in conjunction with a working lunch and you will be in there for at least 3 hours. By 12 PM you are starving when the rest of the group breaks to quickly grab food at vending machines or in their office fridge. What do you do? YOU MAKE THE CALL!
Option 1: The Bad Idea.
You go find something at a vending machine. As much as you try to find the “healthiest” thing, you have not even one good option. Even if you choose just one small bag of baked Lays potato chips or pretzels, this will likely just make you more hungry. It will temporarily spike your blood sugar for sure. Since these foods are hyper-palatable (you can’t eat just one because they are engineered to make you eat more and more), you will likely be very unsatisfied and simply want more. Now you are distracted and annoyed too.
Option 2: The Better Idea.
You get something from a fast food place and enjoy the hell out of it. You are already off track. Instead of just have something unsatisfying like vending machine food, just get something you would consider a “treat meal” (vs cheat meal which sounds like something bad). Don’t take it too far (like I would), but have a little fun with your lunch. The potential mental gains from this may be worth it in the long run (stress reducer), if you are the kind of person that finds value in something like this. My plan is when I am in the situation where eating something fun is the part of the event to just enjoy it. If I am at a birthday, I eat cake. I don’t eat cake on random Tuesdays. So embrace it, get something that tastes good. Get it back in check though for dinner.
Some of you may be thinking you can get something that is a good decision at a fast food place. Let’s go to Subway as the likely place those health conscious people who can’t find the discipline to pack a lunch go. First, anything on bread is a bad idea. Second, there are no good-decision side dishes, not one variation of any chips (baked or not) are a healthy option. Third, all the “meat” they put on sandwiches is mass produced, low-quality left-overs from the factor farm. All food isn’t created equal. Meat is not all the same. The locally-grown grass-fed beef you had in your lunch is in a whole new category from the roast beef at Subway. There vegetables are probably OK if you want to be technical.
OK, but what about a salad? Far better than a sandwich, the meat and cheese is still mass-produced low quality and the dressing is pro-inflammatory seed oil or vegetable oil. All fat isn’t created equal either. Salad is the best of these Subway option though.
Option 3: The Best Idea.
Eat nothing. Do some unplanned intermittent fasting (IF). IF has a lot of health benefits and is a good choice for most people to plan into their regular eating schedule. In this case, you can take advantage of the fact that your blood sugar is already low and level from breakfast (eggs and coffee is great for keeping stable and low blood sugar). Your body is fully into fat burning mode. You definitely do not NEED food. The hunger you are feeling is likely due to the habit of eating at noon, the fact that you are thinking about food, and the fact that everyone else is getting food around you. Most of us in Westernized nations are rarely ever in need of food. You could skip out on eating for days at a time with arguably more positive than negative results. Find something else to occupy your mind and let your body dig deeper into fat reserves for the fuel it prefers.
To aid in your fast, get some water or find something sugarless to drink other than water instead of something to eat. This will put something in your stomach and, for some people, this will work for a few hours. Coffee and tea are most preferred. I find hot beverages work the best. Throw some cream in your coffee as well to add in some fat which will help you feel more full without spiking blood glucose like a carbohydrate would do. At this point in the day caffeine isn’t a concern for most people in terms of affecting sleep, so I would choose the caffeine over decaf. If you can’t find coffee or tea, you can do a diet soda although the artificial sweeteners are not ideal. If diet soda will be enough to keep you from eating, it is worth it.
QUESTION: Would you do something else in this situation? Post thoughts to comments.
References & Further Reading
- The Principles of Mission Capable Nutrition
- Definitive Guide to Intermittent Fasting | Muscle for Life
- This One Simple Trick Will Make All Your Meals Taste Better | Mark’s Daily Apple