If you’re a 40+ hours a week, 9-to-5 working American, odds are you’ve skipped lunch because project X-Y-Z just seemed more important than the growl of your stomach. In fact, for many of us, working through lunch is probably a weekly occurrence; just another part of the weekly routine.
Let’s face it: lunch, like so many other things, has an opportunity cost and sometimes that cost just seems too great to hit Ctrl + S and step away from the monitor.
According to Time, only a third of American workers regularly take lunch away from their desks; in 1990, over half spent lunch actually lunching. While America’s seemingly becoming more productive, we’re apparently doing so at the cost of our nutrition. The workday lunch is heading for extinction as we work harder and longer. With the rapid decline of the midday meal, the question begs to be asked: is lunch really that important?
To get our answer, let’s first look at the effect missing lunch has on the body:
Skipped Meals = Slower Metabolism
Your metabolism is the fire in the furnace that is your body. So what happens when that fire isn’t given proper fuel? It slows down in an effort to preserve the fuel it does have for later use. Even though you’re ingesting fewer calories, you’re burning fewer calories. By eating regularly, you actually optimize your metabolism, making your body a more efficient calorie-burning machine—a crucial component to regulating body fat.
Eat Lunch, Improve Overall Wellbeing
According to Doug Wright, head of clinical development for Aviva health, “It’s well documented that eating lunch can improve general wellbeing and life expectancy.” A healthy, well-balanced lunch can regulate blood sugar, keep your weight in check and even promote better sleep (who doesn’t want that?). And then, of course, there are cognitive effects …
Eat Now, Be Productive Later
Your brain, fueled almost exclusively by carbohydrates, functions a whole lot better after a meal. This means a healthy lunch will go a long way toward boosting afternoon productivity. You’ll have more energy to get more done. But, you say, “I really, really need to work. So, how about I just eat at my desk?”
Germs, Germs And More Germs
Believe it or not, that little mouse right next to your box lunch is one of the dirtiest things at your desk. At 846 germs per square inch alone, you’re getting a lot more than a few extra minutes of work done between bites. Yikes!
Less Focus, More Calories
Much like hitting the bottom of your popcorn bucket at the movies without even realizing it, eating at your desk can lead to mindless overeating. Studies have shown that distracted eaters not only eat more, but also feel less satisfied after they put the fork down. You’ll not only risk having more than you intended at midday, but also set yourself for making less healthy decisions into the afternoon and evening.
A Mental Break To Cut The Stress
Taking a break from your office tasks and focusing on something else, like that fabulous chicken wrap, allows your mind to decompress and rest. In fact, a recent German study proved that desk dining actually leads to psychological changes in the brain that lower productivity and incite stress. By noshing while working, you’re not just risking getting nothing done, but you’re also putting yourself under pressure that can be avoided.
It’s official—lunching is in. By giving your body and mind a chance to refuel, you’ll be better prepared to take on the afternoon with a refreshed outlook. While we know it’s easier said than done, it’s a “do” we highly suggest making room for. Your mind, body and workload will thank you!