This is another installation in the #notatmydesklunch series, in which I share some small, actionable tips on how to get away from your desk at lunch, enjoy a great meal, and set yourself up to properly digest and get the nutrients your body needs. Please share your #notatmydesklunch meals on Instagram and tag me @small_eats.
Here we are, another week, another nutrient dense #notatmydesklunch and small shift to have the best lunch possible for you.
Eating a nutrient dense lunch is awesome, but if you can’t properly digest it and use those nutrients, it doesn’t mean much. Not to worry, there are ways to make your nutritious lunches matter, digest well, and you can get a small breather in your day. It just takes some small shifts around your lunch hour.
To recap from earlier posts, here are the first two steps to having better digestion at lunch:
1. Step away from your desk.
Your desk, whether in an office or at your home, is a hotbed of stress, emails, now, now now, distraction, and all the things that keep you in a sympathetic state. You need to be in the parasympathetic state to digest, which is one where you’re more relaxed. Getting away from your desk is a great start to calm down and get into the right state.
2. Take a deep breath.
Stepping away from your desk doesn’t immediately mean your stress levels are going to drop and you’ll just flick a switch into the parasympathetic mode. Wherever you’re eating your lunch, whether it be in a lunch room, on a patio, car or outdoors (my personal favorite), before eating, take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. That will center you, give your body a nice dose of oxygen, and calm you down.
The next small step can be of the most challenging and pretty important ones: Put down your device. Your computer/iPad/phone/e-reader/even if it’s not a device and is a book, put it down, put it away. Distracted eating is not parasympathetic eating, which is the state your body needs to be in to digest.
Distracted eating also affects your body’s ability to register fullness, which means you’ll get hungry again sooner rather than later. Also, if your body isn’t fully aware you’re eating a meal, it won’t be able to send the proper signals and tell your body to produce enough saliva or other processes that aid in proper digestion.
In a world where we’re always connected to some device, this can be hard. I’m still not the best at it, either. Small steps are better than no steps. Leave your device in your bag or at your desk. If you need to keep your lunch to a certain time, set a timer and put it away. The sound will be enough to remind you.
If you just can’t detach at first, put the device down while you’re chewing and focus on eating. Check your device for a set amount of time and then put it away.
Once you’ve got your digital distraction down, it’s easy to feel at a loss for what to do, since multitasking is so normal. Look at the environment around you and enjoy it. Notice your food and how it tastes and feels. Look at it, too. If you’re around people, strike up a conversation with them or people watch. It’s amazing what you start to taste, see and experience when you’re fully present.
This Taco Salad is a great grain-free and gluten-free way to enjoy the best parts of a taco, while also getting a ton of veggies. If you don’t eat meat, you can easily swap out the ground beef for some nut meat. You can also add more vegetables to this salad, like radishes, a fresh pico de gallo, or depending on where you live, so pickled cactus. Feel free to swap veggies to make your ultimate taco salad.
When I packed this salad for lunch, I put all of the fresh/raw components together in my pyrex dish (except the avocado) and put the ground meat and bean mixture in a smaller glass container. I warmed up the small container and then added that to my salad, along with a freshly cut avocado. If you’re fine with cold or room temperature ground meat and beans, feel free to pack the whole salad in your container.
I would love to see what (and where if you really like it) you’re eating at your #notatmydesklunch, so add that hashtag to your lunch photo and tag or mention me (@small_eats).
Check out the other recipes and tips in this series:
Crustless Quiche with Salad
Beef Radicchio Cups with Tahini Dressing
Summer Cauliflower Rice
- 1 pound of grass-fed ground beef
- 16 oz or 1 can of cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- half an onion, diced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 small head of cabbage (or half a regular sized head), finely chopped
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tablespoon Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 1 small tomato, diced per salad
- half to a whole avocado per salad
- salsa (optional)
- Two large handfuls of salad mix per person
Bring a medium sauté pan to a medium heat and add ground beef. Break up with a wooden spoon and cook until browned. Create a space in the center of the pan and add in onion and garlic. Cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Mix to combine. Add in black beans and cook until warmed through. Add in salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine all cabbage ingredients and adjust seasonings as needed.
Get bowls and add in your salad greens, then top with the amount of the beef and bean mixture, cabbage, tomato, avocado, and salsa, if using.