Key Takeaway: In another simple way to help contribute to good health, consider reworking your schedule so that you don’t do intensive work (or at all!) after eating a heavy meal, especially one with meat. The energy used to digest the meat – which may take longer than for other foods – would conflict with powering you for work, thereby taking longer to digest your food.
I love eating meat, especially chicken, beef, and pork. My favorite noodle soup ever is Taiwanese beef noodles – so famous and iconic that every year a competition revolving around it is held in Taipei. I’m in love with bacon, and use it liberally in my dishes. I’d go for a steak any time at a fancy restaurant, even if one is supposed to eat less at night (more on that next time).
But because beef is expensive, we usually get pork for the house, and I eat pork chops much more often than I do beef steak. I love pork chops, especially once they’re de-fatted and the living daylights bashed out of them (it makes it more tender, IMO). I either eat the chop as a whole – and usually inspired by the Tagliata recipe of The Honourable Nigella Lawson – or I have it sliced into strips à la sukiyaki to be used in Japanese or Korean noodles soups or stews. It’s very versatile for my gastronomic purposes.
Of course, too much meat isn’t a good thing. Well, too much of anything isn’t good (except for love, I’d say), but meat in particular is known for having health risks when consumed too much – the usual fats-and-cholesterol talk. The average recommended serving for red meat a day is the size of a deck of playing cards – which of course seems hard to stick to, given man’s culinary delights.
There’s another reason we should avoid eating too much meat – and this actually applies more to those who like to push themselves, physically or mentally. Studies are conflicting over it, but basically, meat supposedly takes more effort to digest because of its protein or fatty content. Some studies say this is the case (such as this one by Harvard Medical School), others debunk it as a myth (such as this one by Everyday Health). In any case, let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.
Have you noticed yourself feeling sluggish after eating, especially lunch? I always feel that, and this compels me to rest a little after eating, or at the most, do light work. It’s also related to the cultural practice of not going to bed for three hours after eating, because it supposedly increases the risk for sudden unexpected death syndrome, or bangungot in the Philippines. This is because our body needs energy to digest the food we eat – and the heavier we ate, the more energy needed to digest it. This doesn’t apply just to how much we ate but also to what we ate – and meat is supposedly heavier.
If we do strenuous work right afterwards – whether it be physical or mental – the limited energy we have is forcibly diluted across tasks, and has to choose between digesting or making your limbs (or brain) work. 80% of our natural resources is ideally used for digestion – but because of our willpower to work, the energy will go to the latter – thereby slowing down the process of the former, and disrupting your overall health system. The heavier the food we ate, all the longer will it take – and for us red meat lovers, this is particularly important.
Why? This energy is powered by the heart – which as we know can only do so much before it conks out on us, which you surely do not ever want to happen until the day you die. We know that overworked gadgets or programs will crash on us; so it is for our organs. So to work hard while your body is digesting is actually to risk overworking – and shutting down – your heart.
The idea of siesta might have been really wise, after all. As well as the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang.
In the end, and time and again, it’s about balance – balance what you eat and balance what you do. Let this therefore be our guiding philosophy.
Enjoy the rest of the week!