He prowls around, preying on innocent pilots.
He’s very sneaky, creeping unexpectedly and attacking after the propeller begins to turn.
He’s very cunning, veiling his intentions until, BOOM, he attacks.
Beware of the Lunch Monster!
Whenever I am doing a full day of training (which is usually how transition training courses are planned out, in full day sessions), I always plan a lunch stop. My metabolism has the speed of a rocket ship, so I get hungry and need some sustenance in the middle of the day. I have a running list of airports to stop at that have good lunch spots at them or nearby, so my customers and I usually end up at one of those airports.
Almost without fail, if a customer is having an excellent flying morning, nailing all the procedures, picking up all the techniques, and overall, flying pretty well, then eats lunch, the afternoon doesn’t go quite as well. Doing some of the same things we did that morning, but the customer’s performance isn’t quite as good. Most of the time, it’s just a brain lockup or landings aren’t quite as squeaky as they were in the morning.
Part of it is fatigue after flying for 2-3 hours in the morning. The other part is what I call the Lunch Monster. Eating a big lunch can sap away brain power and cause a person to lose energy around 2-3pm, leading to an afternoon lull (or the Lunch Monster attacking!).
According to Forbes.com:
Diet contributes to energy levels too. “Eating a lunch that is too big is the most common reason for feeling sleepy in the afternoon,” says Rebecca Solomon a nutritionist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. “All your energy goes into digesting the enormous meal.”
The goal is to keep the body’s Cortical and Cortisone levels even since they’re the hormones released by the body in reaction to stress–they produce the fight or flight response. Their levels are elevated when you have sugar, caffeine and processed food, so you feel awake and energetic. But a few hours later, when those levels drop, you’re sluggish.
Solomon recommends eating a meal that’s balanced with healthy fats (from olive oil or avocados, for instance) with protein and healthy carbohydrates (whole wheat bread or pasta). The portion will vary for people of different sizes, but a general rule is you should be hungry about four hours after the meal.
Another healthy eating habit: Consume small portions of foods throughout the day, including almonds, carrots and hummus and fruit. Enjoy lunch around 1:30 or 2 p.m., just before the time you normally feel fatigued.
Now, most of the stops on my list of restaurants don’t fit the bill of healthy fats and healthy carbohydrates (plenty of protein, though, especially the BBQ joints). For those days, bringing along a snack like almonds or dried fruit is a great idea to munch on mid-afternoon. Trimming down the amount eaten at lunch helps a lot too.
So, the next time you have a long day of flying or training, beware the lunch monster and prep some good snacks when your flight instructor says you’re stopping for BBQ!