Is this your morning? Squeeze in that last seven minutes of sleep, take a quick shower, and get out of the house with seconds to spare to avoid being late for; dropping the kids off at school, driving your partner to the train, getting to your office before the boss, or some other potentially nerve wracking commitment.
If you are nodding your head, when did you squeeze in your morning meal? Maybe you decided to skip breakfast all together or grab a nutritional food bar at your first destination. On the other hand, perhaps you pulled up to the drive-through, ordered a number 3 and ate it behind the wheel.
We all know by now the dangers of multi-tasking while driving. Most odd jobs do not mix well with this activity; cell phone use, make-up application, reading a paperback novel (I have seen this happen!) When did we swap that quaint recommendation of both hands at ten and two for left knee at six? Although I am alarmed when the driver in front of me is updating their Facebook status in the passing lane, this is not a PSA for distracted driving.
To be fair, let me ask you this: did you enjoy your breakfast at the wheel? Was it nourishing, satisfying, and delicious? If the answer if yes, good for you!, you found what works in your busy day, if not, read on…
Fast paced, stressed out, and distracted eating is counter-intuitive to our bodies. Eating under stress can actually trigger our fight or flight response. This means a shift in our stress hormones, a re-routing of our blood flow, an overall suppression in digestive activity, not to mention, a diminished ability to burn calories. Yes, you read that right, you could be burning less calories by eating while driving compared to enjoying that same meal at home in your kitchen.
There is something else to consider. While this nervous system dispute is taking place, there is a mind-body one brewing as well. The cephalic phase of digestion occurs before we even start to eat when see, smell, or anticipate food. During this brain to belly communication, our digestive system is prepared for performance. Enzymes and acids start flowing and saliva is activated. If we are eating mindlessly, we are not firing up our nutritional metabolism to its full potential. There is a good deal of research informing us that if we eat without enjoyment and pleasure, we will not be wholly satisfied. So, what happens when we feel dissatisfied with the food we ate for breakfast? We are quite likely to eat more.
As you can see, this is not just about will power. The real power comes from slowing down and eating with intention. If you want to experiment with mind-body nutrition, try eating before you get into your car or once you get where you are going. If you are so hungry that you just can’t wait, pull over somewhere, take a few breaths and enjoy!