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I don’t know about you, but any chance I get, I try to eat al fresco (OK, unless it’s a mean 100 degrees, then I may pass). But we are truly blessed as Floridians, because for the most part we have the choice to eat outside year-round. Whether you decide to picnic, dine outdoors at a restaurant or eat on your back patio, why wouldn’t you eat outside?  That’s why I take my lunch hour to go home and spend it on my back patio with my spoiled Pomeranian and whatever is on my menu that day.  Once I’m there, I breathe in the salty, fresh air from the close-by marina, I watch the plants sway in the breeze and the squirrels run around me, I soak in the warmth of the sun, and I listen to the birds chirp.  And as an added bonus, I’m even lucky to have a neighbor who happens to play classical music fairly loudly during the day.

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Needless to say, there are some great health benefits to getting out of the office for lunch, and for being outside in general.

Vitamin D: Unless it is dark out, I feel like this one is a given.  When you’re outside, the sun’s UVB radiation converts a chemical in your skin into the essential vitamin known as vitamin D.  Vitamin D is great for your immune system, good for the heart and thought to help prevent bone diseases.  Just be sure to wear your sunscreen, because the sun can be just as harmful for your skin as it is healthy.

Mood Booster: I’m sure we’ve all heard that people who spend significant amounts of time indoors have higher rates of depression and anxiety, and until recently the outdoors was considered part of the prescription for mental health. In many situations, the effect of being outdoors can be felt almost immediately. Being outdoors can also spark activity, which results in the production of endorphins, leading to feelings of pleasure and happiness.  If you’re already at the park, why not incorporate a stroll, play hacky sack, or throw the ball with your dog? Just get moving!

More Mindful Eating: The sights, sounds and smells of nature usually mean that you’re fully awake and engaged in the moment. This helps you slow down, savor the moment and might ultimately cause you to eat less to feel more satisfied.  Spending lunch hour, or any hour, outside can do wonders, even inspire you.  (Heck, it inspired me to write this blog!) So pay close attention to the thoughts you have while being mindful during your meal.

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Do you really need more convincing?  There should be no excuse for not getting outside, unless it’s raining.  Even then, dancing during a light storm, sans lighting, is highly recommended for a healthy dose of laughter and a rush of childhood memories.

Bon appetit!

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