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Not so much a question about eating at work, but eating breakfast and dinner.

What I've been finding is that I don't have anything else to do while eating. I can't write emails etc. Sitting and just eating is boring.

Now, probably having a partner to eat with, would be quite nice, and you can dedicate the whole time to 'us time' but, seeing as I'm single, this one is ruled out.

What I've been finding myself doing is watching TV, or using the internet, but the problem with this is it can extend into time after you've finshed eating ('I'll just finish this episode').

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Shog9 Nov 28 '13 at 16:46

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I'm not suggesting you write emails while you eat, but if you can't do it, maybe you need to consider your eating pace. – JeffO Apr 9 '13 at 22:08
I think you have a real problem here in that you're struggling to limit the time you spend vegging out on TV or internet... But that's sorta lost in the request for eating experiences. – Shog9 Nov 28 '13 at 16:48
@Shog9 - No. While certianly the internet/TV thing is an issue, this eating this is a specific issue. I'm single, I make a meal, what do I do while eating it? Do I sit in front of the TV? Sit in front on the computer? Sit at the table and read a book? It's a very real decision I face. – dwjohnston Nov 28 '13 at 21:06
Recommend the Fellowes book stand. For all your mealtime reading. – BobStein-VisiBone Sep 17 '14 at 18:34

15 Answers 15

Eat and enjoy the food. Talk to my family.

I believe it is unhealthy to swallow down stuff while you are otherwise engaged. You lose the ability to recognize the signals that your body gives you regarding the amount and type of food it needs. Building awareness is part of the therapy in eating disorders and food related diseases like diabetes. Preserving this awareness is a good way to prevent getting these disorders in the first place.

A buddhist perspective would be: when you work, work; when you eat, eat.

When all your time needs to be productive, you're doing something wrong.

I certainly don't mean this to sound like you have to force your attention on your food. Feel free to let your mind wander. Having a notebook at your side, as Maura van der Linden suggested, is a great idea at all times, and eating is no exception. It even helps with enjoying and being aware of the food, because it frees your mind.

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+1 for -- "A buddhist perspective would be: when you work, work; when you eat, eat." – juacompe Mar 14 '13 at 15:08
It is not just your belief - it has been shown that paying attention to what you are eating decreases the amount you eat (you can find some links among the many results if you Google 'attention to eating'). – Jan Doggen Nov 18 '13 at 8:04
+1 Although I freely admit that it is often easier to recognise the right answer than to live by it. – Kramii Nov 18 '13 at 9:49

I keep a notebook open and use the time to brainstorm and jot ideas on projects I'm working on, potential blog post ideas, etc.

Using pen & paper instead of electronics forces a sort of mode-switch for me and I don't fall victim to "one more blog" or "one more episode".

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There is a proverb in Russian - "When I'm eating I'm deaf and speechless". Just eat and allow your head to relax a little bit.

Actually, having capability of 'relax and just eat' is a real treasure in our days. Those who have little children can understand what I'm saying )).

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Always have thought that this proverb is about preventing choking caused by eating and chewing in the same time. :) – Bunyk Mar 31 '14 at 9:42

One of the greatest moments in my days is when I can sit down and read while I quietly eat a meal.

I've taken to saving links to articles so I can open them up and read them when I have a few minutes of downtime. I've read 100's of articles that I probably never would have gotten to if I hadn't set up this mini-system.

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I have to be careful not to spill food on my Kindle. I never eat a meal without it when I am by myself. – HLGEM Mar 14 '13 at 21:10

I eat.

Eating should be a mindful, conscious activity.

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How can I possibly be downvoted for answering the question?! – Dave Newton Mar 18 '13 at 18:23
I don't know what it is, but some people have an issue with short answers regardless of the quality. They follow the letter of the law and forget the spirit. – JeffO Apr 9 '13 at 22:06
@JeffO Made sillier by it being the same as the other answers that say the same thing. Meh. – Dave Newton Apr 9 '13 at 22:07

I always need to be doing something while eating.

If I am with my family, then the choice is simple - talk to them - but if I am away with work, eating in a hotel etc. then I need to occupy my brain:

  • I carry books of Mensa puzzles with me, and sometimes simple ones like Sudoku or Kakuro for when I'm tired
  • Answering questions on my main Stack Exchange sites
  • Moderating this site and Security Stack Exchange
  • Writing music
  • Writing emails
  • Playing Ingress
  • Writing presentations
  • Planning work items
  • Mind mapping problems
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You do things before breakfast. Read emails, but don't reply to them yet. Think it over while eating.

Personally, I reserve nights for relaxation, so TV + dinner is a great combo.

After learning to cook better, I find that if eating is boring, you should probably be learning to cook better! Bad cooking is a good sign that you're not getting the right nutrition from your food.

If you're forced to eat out somewhere horrible, bring a friend or colleague to chat. If you're forced to eat alone, just chew it and swallow down as fast as possible. Proceed to move on with your life.

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(or perhaps just chew/swallow...)

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I try to do as little as possible while I eat, but I do tend to have sticky notes or a folded-over piece of paper that I write on. In the morning, ideas will naturally come to the surface if you give them a chance Try meditating on things you're thankful for or spend time analyzing some every-day problem and see what happens. In the evening, you should be on a downward slope towards sleep; I end up making a list of the things I need to get done first-thing tomorrow.

One thing that I find really important for any non-productive time (meals or otherwise) is to set a clear goal of how long you're going to be unproductive and then keep yourself occupied with something that won't pull you in. Twenty to thirty minutes usually does it for my meals. TV will suck you in if you let it—read an article or a chapter of a book instead.

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I think one of the best things you can do while eating is listen to music. Unlike watching television, music does not distract you from relaxing and eating. It doesn't grab away your attention.

Once you finish eating, you can move on to something else right away. If you're watching television or reading you will finish the episode or finish the article and are actually becoming less productive! Not to mention these sorts of activities will often lead you to eat more slowly!

Music simply plays in the background.

... and music is really good at reducing stress and recharging your batteries. If you're low on energy, music can get you "pumped" or help you get into a better mood.

If you're home alone, don't sit in silence. Turn on some music you like and your productivity will increase.

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For breakfast, I listen to the radio while eating. In particular, I listen to the traffic, weather and news highlights. This gets me ready for the day.

For dinner, I think or take a break or watch tv. Or sometimes I read if I'm really into a page turner. But I try not to because I'm not enjoying the food if I'm reading at the same time.

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I review Coursera videos. Even if I'm not in an active course, I have access to the archives from previous courses and repetition helps to consolidate the knowledge. ProTip: the second and third time watching a video you might try viewing at 1.25x or even 2x!

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Kindle: easy to turn the pages with one hand, and it doesn't close/fall over when I let got of it!

The trouble is you then carry on till the end of the chapter and use up twice as much time as you meant to.

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You could watch a single episode of a Ted Talk.

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When I eat, I focus on the food, and enjoy it. I used to watch videos before, but I have found that it is not productive for watching videos as well as eating.

So I have stopped doing anything else while eating.

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