Let’s be honest, how many of us are guilty of eating lunch at our desks? Or worse still, not eating lunch at all?
According to Bupa, a third of us in the UK are stuck in this rut with many saying that they just don’t have time to take a break.
But what are the implications of this? Is it making you overeat, possibly even overweight, less productive and putting your health at risk?
Why we eat and multitask
There are, of course, many reasons why people chose to eat at their desks.
For example, my sister does it because she ‘gets bored’ when taking a break….can’t say I have this problem😂
I have suggested that she take a stroll, more on this below, and takes her time when eating her lunch because when we really engage in the process, instead of wolfing it down, we shouldn’t get bored – quite the opposite! It should reignite our joy of food!
My sister is, however, in the minority. A huge 43% of us just feel like we don’t have time to take a lunch break, not because we are worried about boredom.
We live in a society where it feels like whatever we do just isn’t enough.
Competition is high….employers want more…people feel like taking a lunch break means that they appear to not have enough to do!
We believe that by skipping lunch, we are showing commitment when in fact, we are most likely underperforming and risking our health and wellbeing as a result.
In order to tackle this growing issue though, employers need to create the right conditions.
Is there actually space for you to go and eat your lunch at your place of work? Is it pleasant, inviting? do your managers and colleagues use it?
If you are an employer or manage staff, do you model the behaviours that will ultimately get you better results?
If not, why not?
Studies have shown that taking a more mindful eating approach can also help people to lose weight and keep it off in the longterm.
Mindfulness is not just about making better choices around food, it is about being more aware, being present in the moment. It involves being in tune with your body so that you can meet it’s nutritional needs, without overdoing it.
Multi-tasking whilst you eat does not allow for this which can mean one or both of the following happen:
- you eat more than you need which can = weight gain
- you feel dissatisfied my your lunch because you didn’t really engage in the process and therefore reach for more food later on.
This becomes an unhealthy, vicious circle that is counterproductive.
Another reason why we should be stepping away from our desks at lunchtime is to increase productivity.
Have you ever noticed that you are able to focus really well for the first half an hour when you sit down to work but that this soon diminished and you find yourself getting distracted? You might try locking your phone away in a drawer but how long until you are unlocking it again?
Lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to revive yourself again, get your blood flowing and your brain working again.
It can make ALL the difference to what you achieve post 1 pm!
You don’t have to take a prolonged break, even 10-15 mins can make the world of difference and help avoid that procrastination and/or 3pm slump.
Not moving away from your desk at lunch can have also have serious health implications, aside from being overweight.
This is because according to this study, sitting for prolonged periods of time can double your chances of developing heart disease, diabetes and dying of an early death.
We are living in an age where people are becoming less and less active which is impacting both our physical and mental health.
Furthermore, this systematic review revealed that:
Increased physical activity was the most consistent positive correlate of weight loss maintenance.
So, if you are wanting to lose weight and keep it off, it makes sense to move about at lunch time!
Whilst I do understand that the majority of us are trying to fit more in to 24 hrs than ever before, consistently not taking lunch breaks is likely to hinder your efforts to live a better quality of life!
It is likely to lead to weight gain over time, decrease how much you do actually achieve and negatively impact your whole health.
This means that businesses and organisations need to make a concerted effort to create a more positive lunch time environment, not not just physically.
If the culture in your office is one of ‘presenteeism’ i.e. you have to be constanly at your desk to be making progress, then this needs to change.
We all need to realise that moving away from our desks is a positive and essential habit to establish.