Why eating lunch at your desk is a bad idea

When it’s busy at the office, planning to get out at lunchtime falls by the wayside.  The problem is, every day is busy.  Before you know it, it is a well-entrenched habit to sit at your desk every lunch break.  You find yourself typing with one hand whilst you hold your sandwich in the other.

It may sound like this is a productive way to be.  The true is opposite.  There are many good reasons why you shouldn’t eat at your desk.  Here are 7 of them:

  1. You are not a machine!
    You are not a machine that can keep on going indefinitely.  You are a creature, with a body.  Creatures need breaks.  In order to be productive you need to take a body break.  In your office, planning regular breaks and creating a culture of taking breaks, is ultimately good for productivity.

  2. You need space to think
    Have you noticed that ideas come to you when you are relaxed?  When you are doing activities unrelated to work, your mind comes up with some of your best ideas. A popular advert that used to be aired often read, “great ideas don’t keep office hours”.  Get away from your desk, and give yourself some time and space to think.

  3. Food should not be inhaled
    When you eat at your desk you are not concentrating on what you are eating.  You are busy with other things, and pay very little attention to the food you are eating.  It is as if you have inhaled your food, hardly tasting it.  When you are mindful about what you are eating, you eat only as much as you need, and you can savour your food.

  4. Get to know your co-workers
    Instead of eating at your desk, get to know your co-workers.  Many companies include in their office planning kitchens or dining areas where staff can congregate.  You don’t need to get personal with your colleagues.  Spending some time together helps you learn what you have in common and improves your working relationships.Do not confuse this with a business lunch, however.  A business lunch is a meeting where work is discussed over food.  You speak about work.  You do not necessarily relax, nor do you talk about things that will regenerate you.

  5. It’s just gross!
    The average workspace is one of the dirtiest places you can eat.  Your keyboard can have 70% more bacteria than the average toilet seat! Your desk can have up to 10 million bacteria living there!  The microwave handle and the vending machine button are amongst the most germ-infested places in your office; planning to get away from your desk for lunch makes sense.

  6. You need the sunshine
    There are many benefits to getting outdoors for your lunch hour.  The fresh air helps you clear your head, and the sunshine gives you the vitamin D your body needs.  The light is thought to stimulate the release of serotonin, a hormone that controls mood.  Spending some time in a green space is also restorative.  After a short while outside, you will be regenerated and ready to give of your best.

  7. You sit too much
    The Western practice of sitting for long periods of time is impacting health.  It has been linked to a number of health issues.  These include mental health problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, bad cholesterol and belly fat.  An hour of exercise or getting out at lunch will not offset 8 hours of sitting at your desk.  It is however a start in the right direction.


Now that you know it is a bad idea to eat lunch at your desk what can you do?


Office planning can help

If your office does not provide an area where colleagues can eat, office planning can help.  Perhaps a meeting room can be set aside, or an outdoor dining space could be created, such as on a balcony.   It makes sense for a company to encourage staff to leave their desks for their lunch hour.  Ultimately everyone benefits.

If office planning is not possible, there is no excuse to keep eating at your desk.  Take the time to leave the office for a few minutes.  Take a brisk walk.  Enjoy the sunshine.   Meet up with friends.  Catch up with family.  You will soon start to see the benefits.  You will be more creative and productive after your lunch break.


Why don’t you give it a try!




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