Peninsula Magazine

May 1986


Lunch, nutritionally, is the least important meal of the day. But to the power brokers of the business world, lunch has taken on almost mythic proportions, becoming a conference table unlike any other and providing a chance to show off skills in an entirely new arena. The power lunch has become the newest and most important daily business ritual.

People forget that last part, and end up crippling their day by eating garbage, and eating it too fast. Accomplishments at lunch can be negated by a lack of productivity during the rest of the day. We underestimate just how much work is required to digest, process, and store food in the human body; unlike thinking, eating requires a great expenditure of the body's chemical energy--and eating the wrong things wastes an incredible amount of that energy.

The digestive tract's work takes hours, so you can count on your mental alertness dwindling as the day wears on, especially with a full stomach. Then, if you add a few draft beers or glasses of wine on top of that, you could feel like a modern-day Rip Van Winkle.

Lunch is vital, though, and should be treated that way. The power lunch can easily be turned into a productive and positive experience with only a few forkfuls of common sense.

First, instead of starting off the meal with a cocktail or glass of wine (alcohol on an empty stomach goes right to your head), drink tea--without sugar, of course--or ice water. Mineral water is also good, and comes bottled in different flavors or can be ordered with a twist.

Order a light appetizer that gently and gradually begins the digestive process. Don't jolt your stomach by dropping a roast beef sandwich down into it. You can counter the few additional calories of the appetizer by ordering a less-powerful entree.

The entre should digest easily, so stay away from fats and cholesterol. Salad is a great idea, but lay off the high-calorie high-cholesterol salad dressings. Try fish or fowl (duck is pretty oily, though), and of course you'll go light on sauces and gravies. One other possibility is the new "light beef" that the beef industry has come up with. At the moment, though, few restaurants offer it.

For dessert, try fruit; if you must have coffee, make it decaffeinated, and if you must lighten it, take milk, not cream.

Then reward yourself. Have a glass of wine to seal the deal. The alcohol will be slowed in its absorption by being mixed with the food that's now in your stomach, and there is some evidence that it may even aid digestion.

All these suggestions, God forbid, should not cramp your style during your lunchtime machinations. In fact, people may notice your practices and interpret them as effective displays of power, similar to knowing which drink to order or how to dress for success. So don't just humbly wield your lunching technique the next time you're out--flaunt it.

Bon appetit.