Like many mediators, I usually serve some food during a mediation  (along with water, coffee, tea etc.). Many of the participants are surprised and pleased when they come into the conference room and are greeted by these goodies. They probably think I am simply being hospitable.

I am being more than that: I am trying to insure a successful mediation. A recent article in entitled “How Many Calories Can the  Brain Burn by Thinking? (by Emma Bryce and published about November 9, 2019) discusses the brain’s need for glucose for heavy duty thinking.   The article begins by noting that in 1984, the World Chess Championship was abruptly halted because the officials were worried about the health of Anatoly Karpov who had lost  22 pounds in the preceding five months playing chess matches.  According to research, elite chess players can burn up to 6, 000 calories a day by simply playing chess and not physically moving around whatsoever. (Id.)

Why? Typically, the brain uses 20% to 25% of the body’s energy requirements which is usually in the form of glucose. This amounts to about 350-450 calories a day.  Yet, the brain makes up about 2% of our body weight. Most of the energy it consumes is not associated with learning something new or doing something difficult; it is simply consumed in keeping us operating normally:

 Most of the energy hauled up by this organ is devoted to enabling neurons in the brain to communicate with each other, via chemical signals transmitted across cell structures called synapses, said Harrington. “A lot of the energy goes towards firing a synapse. That involves a lot of transportation of ions across membranes, which is thought to be one of the most expensive processes in the brain.” 

In addition, the brain never really rests, she explained; when we sleep, it still requires fuel to keep firing off signals between cells to maintain our body’s functions. What’s more, servicing the brain are fleets of cells that exist to channel nourishment toward neurons. …  (Id.)

So, if most of this glucose is used for every day normal thinking, how do we lose weight like Mr. Karpov by simply thinking? The added factor is stress! Mr. Karpov like many others was operating under intense pressure causing stress. As we all know, stress will cause our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure  to increase as well as causing us to sweat.  These physical reactions together with possibly not eating for a long period of time (i.e., reduced food consumption)  may well cause one to lose weight. (Id.)

It will also cause parties not to think clearly. When the glucose level is low, so is the energy level and thus, one becomes grumpy and will make bad decisions. Bad decisions do not make for a successful much less good mediation.

The antidote; serve food to keep the blood sugar and glucose levels up especially since mediations can be stressful for many people.

So, while parties to my mediations may think that I am simply being a gracious mediator by serving food, there is an ulterior motive: to help the parties make good decisions and resolve their disputes.

…. Just something to think about.    


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