Is your kitchen lurking down the hallway from your home office? Tempting you to fill up on unnecessary calories, break your focus and get less done?
Yes? It’s something I struggle with too.
When I’m working hard, I get the munchies. I’ll wander off to the kitchen, return to my desk with a snack. Before I know it, I’ve gone through half a loaf of banana bread. You probably know exactly what I mean.
However, you can turn this around. You can make the proximity to your kitchen an asset to your business while at the same time working on your waistline.
Your kitchen can ultimately become the source of many a biz breakthrough.
And in this article I’m going to show you how to do it.
But first let’s back up a minute and look at some simple biology. Because in order to tap into the kitchen phenomenon, you need to know your enemy. You need to acknowledge the weakness programmed right into your DNA…
See, the truth of the matter is…
Your Brain Is A Pig
There’s a reason brain-heavy work triggers your body to feel hungry. It’s actually a biological response. Our brains, despite being pretty small, use up about one quarter of our energy intake. We use enormous amounts of calories whenever we put our mind to something.
This is why some paleoanthropologists speculate that when early hominids started getting more nutrients from their food by cooking it and eating meat, we were able to support a larger brain.
So if you get that craving for cookies when you sit down to really concentrate on a task, you can thank your biology.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to succumb to your instincts. Like potty training, we can train ourselves to take actions that fit better with our goals and… er… socially accepted behavior.
So let’s master your brain’s instinctive behavior. And even make these instincts – and food itself – your ally in having a productive workday.
Here’s what I mean:
Use Your Cravings To Help You Think
Most of us freelancers spend our time facing our computer. We’re sucked into The World of Online.
Tragically, as a culture and as individuals we’re losing something precious in this preoccupation – our ability to think and reflect.
Inundated with information, we rarely mull, muse, or ponder. Real problem solving has been replaced with Googling. Real creativity has been transplanted by spinning.
As part of having a healthier home business – and life – you need to find ways that encourage you to walk away from your screen and look up. And look inside.
Now, food isn’t always the best way to do this. As I admitted earlier, I’m the first to go grab a bite to eat when I can’t get a headline right.
On the other hand, this may not be so bad.
See, eating is a very real physical experience that can bring you back to this non-virtual world. It’s something that many of us find hard to ignore for too long – no matter how good the discussion on Twitter is.
Eating can get your head out of your computer for a few minutes.
But it gets even more interesting…
Notice how many good ideas people come up with when they’re in the shower? Why?
When you’re performing a relaxing physical activity, you free up your mind to start thinking in a creative way.
When you’re showering, your mind starts to wander a bit, deep thoughts percolate up and mix with all the different bits of consciousness you’ve squashed in there while poring through blogs and ezines. This reshuffling and merging is what spawns creativity and innovative problem solving.
In the shower, with the water running over your shoulders, you can’t possibly look at a screen or scribble notes. Your mind is all yours. And it will go to work if you let it.
Eating can serve the same purpose.
However, unlike showering, while we’re eating we too often preoccupy our minds with something else. Like reading or watching TV or cruising Facebook.
Which brings me to the next step to making your kitchen your ally…
Savor Your Food And Discover
The only way you can make food a positive force in your life is by respecting it and giving it your full attention.
I’m a foodie. I have a small farm. I love to cook. And I love to eat.
Lately I’ve been taking a quick break to pick some Kiwi gold raspberries, rolling their sweetness around in my mouth.
But I’ll also confess even with all that love of good food, I usually eat like an express train. Maybe it’s from days of cramming meals in when my kids were little. Probably it goes even farther back.
And I’m not alone in this.
In the U.S. we’ve lost the fine art of eating. This has contributed to our overeating epidemic.
One widely publicized study that came out this year noted that not only did people who ate cookies while they worked at the computer eat more cookies… but they also ate more cookies several hours later in the day!
In other words, by eating mindlessly, you start to tell your body to ignore its signals of satiation. You start to turn eating into an unremarkable event that you don’t notice – so you keep doing it.
So the first advantage of conscious eating is that it will help you trim down.
But it also goes another step…
When you unlock the power or conscious eating, you create another place in your life to experience and really think. It’s something all of us busy home biz owners could use.
Perhaps I’m a little biased as a writer. It certainly helps me to brush up my observation skills with a good mindful snack. But as I explained before with the showering example, taking a real snack break can help anyone tap into more of their mind power.
You’ve got this far. And hopefully this is making some sense to you.
But now comes the big question: How do you put this into play?
The best way to make eating a positive force is to practice at it. So here’s your homework:
Next time you’re stuck working on a gnarly project and you feel the urge to have a snack, do this.
1. Pause And Notice
Walk into your kitchen and look out the window. Take a deep breath and note what’s going on outside. And inside your body.
Ask yourself, what do I really want? Do I want something refreshing like a glass of water or a little seltzer mixed with some juice?
Do I want something that satisfies my sweet tooth but doesn’t leave me deflated in half an hour?
Or do I really need something to fill my belly – is it lunchtime?
Notice how you’re feeling and what kind of nourishment your body really is looking for.
2. Choose Your Potion
Let’s say you just need a little wakeup call. Perhaps something light because you’re not that hungry. You just a little need a nibble. And something that makes your senses come alive – including that nagging sweet tooth.
A nice piece of fruit might do the trick.
Take a piece of fruit – let’s say it’s a well-ripened pear. Wash it carefully and take a sniff. Do you know what pear’s smell like?
Savor how it looks.
Now – carefully avoiding your desk – go find a nice spot where you can really appreciate your pear. Maybe it’s standing near the window. Or even stepping outside and enjoying some sun on your back.
And then take a bite. Let a little juice trickle down. It’s okay to be a little messy (no office mates here to be shocked). And let your tongue savor the flavor.
Chew it slowly. Yes, really chew it before you swallow. Take a moment after that first bite and really think about how that bite was.
Now take the next bite. And savor it the same way.
Continue to eat the pear, noting the experience. As well as looking around you and noting your environment.
And here’s where you get to the next step in becoming a productive eater…
Take note of your body too. How are you feeling as you eat.
When you’re done, sigh with contentment. And take a moment to notice how your body feels. Do you feel good? Do you feel energized?
Just the other day, Prevention Magazine ran a short blog post titled “The #1 Way To Lose Weight.”
And you know what it was?
Become an instinctive eater. Don’t count calories. Don’t worry about color wheels. Don’t even pay attention to the new USDA chart.
None of that is as useful or important as learning to listen to your body.
When you listen to your body, you’ll start to notice that eating food that’s good for you makes you feel… well… good. Energized, alert, light, satisfied.
And food that’s bad for you makes you feel bad. Draggy, craving more and often cranky.
It takes some time to override your original fixation with salty chips and chocolate delights. But over time you’ll start to instinctively crave… prepare yourself… healthy food.
Scout’s honor. I used to eat chocolate every day without fail. Now, on some occasions I’ll feel for a little and have some. But it’s in limited amounts. And more often than not, it’s just not what I’m looking for.
When you start to pay attention to your body’s reaction, you’ll develop your own complex, personalized food prescription chart of what to eat based on how you’re feeling.
Taking conscious eating breaks will help you drop pounds and boost your health.
4. Let Your Mind Go To Work
Now give your business a boost too. Notice your thoughts and ideas. Let them sift through and don’t work to hard to force them into line. Just let your mind wander.
Eventually, when you’ve finished your snack (or meal), return to work.
Now’s the time to jot down a few revelations.
Look at that project with truly fresh perspective.
Put that renewed energy to work in tackling that troublesome problem.
Even use these delightful snack breaks as an incentive to focus and get another good half an hour of work done.
This won’t be easy to do at first. Believe me, email has a powerfully seductive call when you’re snacking.
But if you work at it for a week or two, trying to insert at least one conscious food break each day – maybe two – it will start to get easier.
By paying attention to how your body – and your biz – benefits from these breaks… by really experiencing the change in stress level, energy level and productivity… you’ll start to reprogram even that stubborn brain.
And soon enough, your kitchen will no longer be that dangerous spot robbing you of your best intentions.
Instead, it will become a valuable ally in running your business and staying healthy while doing it.