How Packing a Healthy Lunch Can Transform Your Workday

If you can relate to this scenario, raise your hand. Your office has a nicely appointed kitchen/dining area with plenty of table space for you and your coworkers to enjoy lunch engaged in stimulating conversation. But save for brief visits to grab a coffee or to microwave a burrito, no one uses it. The chairs are as empty as the calories consumed.

This is the new normal in many offices. Lunchrooms sit empty because employees are more apt to go out for lunch, or bring something quick, of questionable nutritional value, and eat it at their desks as they work. Some of those that go out will eat away from the office, but the majority don’t. Research shows that 4 out of 5 Americans no longer take a lunch break and often punish themselves with food not fit for human consumption.

Packing a Healthy Lunch Improves Your Day

We tend to make poor decisions when our blood sugar levels are low and we’re ravenous for lunch. When our energy levels are low, our bodies naturally crave the quick boost that comes from refined carbs, sugars, and other unhealthful choices. If you wait to decide what to have for lunch until you’re stressed at work and mid-crash, you’re likely to choose a lunch that isn’t going to do you any favors.

Packing a healthy lunch allows you to derail this process. You choose to eat healthy the night before work, when you’re calm and rational. The next afternoon, when your energy-starved brain is screaming at you to super-size a double quarter ponder with cheese meal you’ll have a healthy lunch waiting patiently for you in the office fridge.

Studies show that healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, improve feelings of happiness, self-satisfaction, and generally improve the quality of a person’s day. One, published in the British Journal of Healthy Psychology found that the consumption of fruits and vegetables on a consistent basis was associated with greater feelings of existential happiness and contentment, as well as increased levels of curiosity and creativity. Unless you’re paid to be dull and miserable, eating healthy will certainly improve your work performance.

Taking a Lunch Break Improves Your Focus and Motivation

Our brains require rest periods in order to perform optimally. After a stressful, demanding morning, taking a lunch break away from your work gives your mind a chance to disengage and regroup. It lets your brain work on difficult problems in the background while you concentrate on something else, which oftentimes results in new insights and an increased vigor for your work when you return.

Packing a healthy lunch has an added benefit, apart from the quality of the food itself. Bringing your lunch saves you time. You don’t need to waste your precious break minutes driving somewhere and standing in line to get food. This means you can do more with your break than just eat, and it turns out that spending a bit of time in the middle of the day engaged in modest exercise, like walking, can make a real difference in your productivity.

A study conducted at Bristol University found that when workers exercised on their lunch break, for even 10 or 15 minutes, they enjoyed a 41% motivation increase and a 21% concentration gain when returning to work.

So, pack a healthy lunch and eat it as far away from your desk as possible. You probably have access to a lunchroom. Use it. Get your coworkers to use it, too. You’ll socialize more, increase your work enjoyment, eat healthier, and enjoy an overall boost to your happiness and your productivity.

And it couldn’t hurt to share this article with your boss so that you can stop feeling guilty for doing something that benefits you and your company.

For other interesting reads, check out Do People Still Invite Their Bosses Over for Dinner? and Are Millennials Ruining Cooking, Too?!

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