Lunch at your desk may be saving you time, but is it adding to your waistline?
A 2013 survey conducted by The Australian Institute found that 3.8 million Aussies don’t take a lunch break at work. In fact most of us spend too much time seated, which can have negative health outcomes. Whilst scoffing down a sandwich at your desk might seem like a good idea when your schedule is looking hectic, experts believe skipping your lunch break is damaging your health and productivity more than we know. Here are 4 reasons why you should steer clear of eating at your desk.
1. You tend to eat more
You know that feeling when one minute you start eating lunch whilst scrolling through your emails and the next minute you’ve only got a couple of mouthfuls left? This pattern of eating is referred to as mindless eating and tends to happen when you’re distracted by things around you (e.g computer, tv, phone) and hence aren’t focused on what you’re eating. Mindless eating has been shown to lead to overeating, which can result in unwanted weight gain. Taking time to move away from your desk and paying attention to what you’re eating will help you to be more in tune with your body’s hunger signals. Just like your body tells you when you need to urinate, your body will let you know when you’re hungry and full, and it’s important to respond to these signals.
2. You sit for long periods
There is an enormous amount of evidence suggesting that sitting for extended periods may be detrimental to your health. Extended sitting can slow the body’s metabolism and has been linked with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome (an array of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, increased blood sugar levels and excess abdominal fat). It’s important to go for short walks during the day (even if its only for 5 or 10 minutes), just to get your blood flowing and stretch your muscles. The bottom line is that your body need to move and most people don’t spend enough time upright, which has negative health implications.
3. You don’t get enough sunshine
Winter is fast approaching and the hours of daylight getting shorter. This mean it’s likely you’ll have missed the sunshine by the time you clock off at the end of the day. A short walk outside in the middle of the day is important in order to obtain adequate Vitamin D that you need to stay healthy. Vitamin D plays a variety of important roles within the body including helping to maintain energy levels and a healthy immune system, keeping your bones strong and your heart healthy. While you can receive small amounts of vitamin D from food sources (e.g. oily fish and eggs ), it’s difficult to meet your needs from food alone.
4. You don’t switch off
You may think that eating lunch at your desk shows dedication or that taking a lunch break is pointless, but the truth is that stopping to eat in the middle of the day can actually improve your performance. It’s important to give yourself a chance to switch off and unwind during the day. In fact taking a short break and stepping away from your computer can have a restorative effect on your mind and help improve your concentration and creativity for the rest of the day, thereby boosting productivity. Taking a break from your emails can also help to reduce stress, which is another way to stay healthy.
So whilst it might seem like you’re wasting your time by eating your lunch away from your desk, or going for short walks at lunch when you could be working – the truth is that it may be the best thing you can do for your health and your productivity.