Many people think that if they “work through lunch” and eat at their desk, they are saving time so they can get more done and finish the day at a reasonable time.
But is working at your desk during lunch really the best lifestyle and career decision?
Two experts weigh in on whether eating at your desk during a busy work day is really the best way to recharge and stay productive for the rest of the day.
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Here’s what you may not realize about the implications of not taking a real lunch break.
What’s behind the trend of working during lunch?
The ezCater Lunch Report 2023, which surveyed 5,000 workers across the United States, found that nearly 48% of people skip a lunch break at least once a week.
The factors involved in your decision to work during lunch are varied.
The report revealed that 23% of people said they did it to finish their work on time, 22% feared they would not have enough time to finish their work if they did not work during lunch and 20% said they had too many meetings to take. a break.
“This data suggests that employees are thinking about the short-term impact on productivity and are losing sight of the bigger picture,” Diane Swint, a spokesperson for ezCater in Boston, told Fox News Digital.
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“In the long term, not pausing to refuel leads to burnout, stress and reduced mental clarity,” said Swint, who works with businesses, universities and organizations that want to use food to improve culture, productivity and satisfaction. general labor.
Along those lines, 48% of workers said they burned less when they took a break, the Lunch Report showed.
“While workers may feel that skipping midday breaks saves time, the reality is that this habit decreases concentration and productivity,” Swint said.
Why it is so important to take a defined lunch break
The benefits of taking a lunch break were shown in the Lunch Report, as 53% of workers revealed they had more mental clarity when stopping for lunch.
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“And 78% of workers say taking a lunch break improves their work performance,” Swint told Fox News Digital.
In today’s fast-paced work culture, many people get caught up in the common practice of working until lunch, believing it to be a strategy to save time and ensure an early or punctual departure from the office.
“However, this choice has important implications not only for productivity but also for physical and mental well-being,” said Sarah Heckler, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Anne Till Nutrition Group in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Another notable benefit of taking a real lunch break? It can boost your work-life balance goals, she said.
“Taking a lunch break promotes a healthier work-life balance,” Heckler said.
The defined lunch break encourages a much-needed cognitive recharge during the workday.
“It temporarily allows people to step out of the professional mindset, fostering a sense of separation between work and personal life. This boundary is essential to prevent work-related stress from permeating other aspects of life,” he said.
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Additionally, the defined lunch break encourages a much-needed cognitive recharge during the workday.
“Stepping away from the desk provides a mental reset, allowing people to return to work with greater focus and clarity,” Heckler told Fox News Digital.
“This brief break acts as a cognitive recharge, boosting concentration and productivity when they return to their tasks.”
What are the nutritional implications of working through lunch?
When you eat at your desk, you’re probably multitasking while you devour your lunch.
Here are some other disadvantages of eating during lunch in your office or cubicle, according to Heckler.
Greater likelihood of eating without thinking. When people work during lunch, they often resort to mindless eating, Heckler said.
“This means they consume food quickly and without much thought, leading to poor chewing and digestion,” Heckler continued. “Eating in a hurry can cause larger food particles to reach the stomach, making it difficult for the digestive system to break down and absorb nutrients efficiently.”
Decreased absorption of nutrients. A rushed lunch may consist of processed or fast food, which lacks essential nutrients.
“Nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, contribute to overall health and sustained energy,” Heckler told Fox News Digital.
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When people neglect these food groups, they can experience deficiencies, which affects their ability to stay focused and energized throughout the day.
Reduced energy levels. Skipping lunch or opting for foods high in sugars and refined fats can contribute to a mid-afternoon energy slump, Heckler said.
“These foods provide a quick boost of energy, but are often followed by a rapid decline in energy levels,” he continued.
“This can negatively impact productivity and concentration, making it more difficult to tackle tasks effectively.”
Poor food choices can also reduce cognitive function, he also said.
So what should you do instead?
If possible, leave your desk and eat lunch in the break room.
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Go out if possible, or even dine off-site if you have time.
Whether you pack your lunch in a bag, eat takeout, or stop by a restaurant, the key is to create a healthy eating plan, not only for nutrition but for overall well-being.
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“Choosing a well-balanced lunch that includes a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) helps maintain stable blood sugar levels,” Heckler said.
“This, in turn, supports sustained energy throughout the afternoon, preventing the need for excessive caffeine consumption or unhealthy snacks to stay alert.”
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