What’s for lunch?

05 September 2017

Over 65 per cent of office workers eat lunch at their desks each day.

As the trend continues for more open and fluid office spaces, it’s no surprise that kitchens and breakout spaces are pulling focus at this moment in time. With businesses opening up these spaces to create a better social balance, more is being included in the mix – fresh coffee supplies, bread and cereals, fruit and biscuits – to incentivise the staff to take their meal breaks in the office environment.

It might seem the most obvious choice but it’s far from being the healthiest…

You may be eating the right things but you’re missing out on an opportunity to stretch your legs, use more of your muscles and get some fresh air and exercise – all of which are as crucial, if not more so, to your health as the food that you choose to eat.

What’s more, it’s likely that you’re consuming more calories if you’re sitting at your desk, engrossed in work or browsing.

That’s when we are least likely to concentrate on what we’re putting into our mouths and more likely to snack or graze or to simply not notice when we’re full up.

There’s no ‘mindfulness’ attached to the act of eating. We’re, basically, just shovelling it in and not tracking the amount of food that we’re consuming.

Eating when your focus is fixed elsewhere prevents the hormone, leptin, from signaling the brain in time to let you know that you’re full up, meaning that you are in danger of eating more than you need to feel satisfied.

More importantly, going back to the exercise issue, eating at your desk means that you are sitting for longer and not taking the opportunity to fully break up your sitting time.

Sitting down in the office has long been an issue, with middle-aged office workers reported to be less active now than pensioners overall, according to a report from the University of Edinburgh.

The advent of sit stand desks was all about countering this particular problem, as it’s proven to be beneficial to stand for some of the time rather than sit, but if you don’t have that option in your office then it’s even more important that you get up and move around.

It’s also mentally stimulating to break up the day and get out of the office, even if only for twenty minutes, if you get the opportunity. Changing your surroundings allows you to clear your mind and gives you a better chance of facing the afternoon refreshed.

You’re more likely to feel alert and ready to go.

Also, the very act of leaving your desk and moving about provides you with the chance to socialize and exchange a few words with colleagues on your way in and out of the building. Like exercise, socializing allows you to lower your stress levels and has a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.

So, next time you’re tempted to slump at your desk over lunch, think again. Aim to get out at least twice a week and take a walk. Enjoy a change of scenery and, if possible, eat somewhere else.

You may find you feel fitter, happier and better overall once you embrace a proper lunch break.

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