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Bitr professor Maria Lennernäs Wiklund

Peace at lunch time - as important as what you eat

Published: 21 October 2015

Peace and quiet during meals, is equally important for maintaining health as the food we eat. This, says Maria Lennernäs Wiklund, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Luleå University.

Assistant Professor Maria Lennernäs Wiklund is performing reseach about meals, eating habits and circadian rhythms. She has studied the eating patterns of shift workers and in-flight personnel.

- That we eat at certain times and that we have peace and quit  and don´t feel stressed while we eat, are important factors affecting satiety, weight, sleep and other bodily functions. Today, all the focus is on the kind of food we eat and very little on when we eat and and the environment during meals.

Stressful lunch affects health

Eating under stress makes it difficult to feel if and when you had enough food. Dispite that research, for example, about  working meals and the environment in which we eat at work, almost completely lacking  although lunch time is often short and the noise level in the staff room may be high.

Today physically demandin work have been replaced by cognitively demanding jobs. Recovery and getting to eat in peace and quiet allowe us to unwind in a stressful day. The hormone oxytocin that is produced when we recover, makes us relaxed and social. When we are hungry, however,  the signal substance dopamine and stress hormones are affected, which leads to depression and restlessness.

Eating at night challange your body

At night, the body should rest to recover. To challenge the body's circadian rhythms affect appetite and metabolism. Many shift workers therfore has problems with bad health. Night eating and sleeping at day time, goes against the body's biological clock and can lead to negative effects on the biological rhythm of recovery and digestive processes. As satiety is weaker in the evening, late evening meals also lead to overeating and obesity.

- Peace and quiet during meals and eating at the right time of the day, is important for your health in the long term. I wish that the meals at work receive more attention, says Maria Lennernäs Wiklund. Working meals can be just as important for your health as fruit baskets and wellness efforts in the gym.