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Be Well, Move Happy: Eating Awareness and Deskercise

Helping us to move more and eat better, this month Sara Whatley looks at eating awareness and deskercise

Chances are you are sitting down while reading this. Possibly even eating at the same time. That’s OK, it’s normal and natural to have a break, but like all things in life moderation is key. Recent studies have shown that sitting down for prolonged periods of time can have a major detrimental impact on our health, including increasing the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart conditions.

Sitting for long periods (working or watching) often goes hand in hand with not paying attention to the food we are consuming. In this article I am looking at ways to change this around – to become more food aware and bring more movement into our everyday, both of which will bring a host of health benefits.

Wellness: Eating Awareness

Are you truly aware of what you eat? It is so common nowadays with our super busy distracted lives to consume our food absentmindedly that sometimes we don’t even know what we have eaten. This is called autopilot.

Much of our time is spent on autopilot – the unaware mode. How did we get here? Where did the rest of that chocolate bar go? When
it comes to eating, being in the present moment with your food will not only enhance your enjoyment of it but will bring other health benefits too.

To become more food aware make a conscious effort to eat away from your desk, screens and other distractions. Can you taste the difference already? You may not have realised that normally you don’t look at your food; when you stop and pay attention suddenly your plate is alive with colour, texture, interest and invitation. Notice the smells, the flavours, textures and the feeling the food gives you.

In turn this eating awareness will slow you down, make you chew more efficiently and aid digestion. Crucially you will also notice when you are full and be aware of when to stop eating.

Being more aware of what you put into your body may also change your shopping and cooking habits. You many naturally seek out less salt and sugar as your taste buds wake up, which is often found in ultra processed foods – something we all should avoid if possible.

Of course, no one is perfect and sometimes eating breakfast on the run can’t be helped, but bringing a little more food awareness into our daily lives will cultivate a surprising amount of overall wellness.

Movement: Deskercise

We should aim to be getting up at least once an hour and moving around for a minimum of five minutes before sitting down again, if we must. Many of us sit down on the commute, work at a desk for extended periods of time, and wind down with Netflix on the sofa at the end of the day. So what can we do to make our sedentary lifestyles more active?

Could you fit in more walking or cycling during your day? How about a standing desk? And if you are sitting at a desk all day, could you fit in some deskercise?

Start by sitting up tall, core engaged, then turn your palms over to face upwards and feel your shoulders roll backwards. Try stretching your arms out to the sides to open your chest, or raise your arms above your head for a good side stretch. Roll your head, carefully.

Use your chair: stand up and down a few times; hold onto the back of your chair while you go up and down on tip toes, or into squats. Try leg raises under the desk, or do bottom clenchers while you go through emails.

On the tea run? Do wall push-ups while waiting for the kettle to boil.

Take the stairs rather than the lift, preferably two at a time. Have a glass of water rather than a big bottle so you have to get up for refills. Go and chat to colleagues rather than emailing.

Could you introduce walking or standing meetings? How about Friday star jumps for the whole team? Don’t worry about looking silly, every little movement helps in maintaining a happy and healthy body.


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