The End Of The Working Lunch

Eating at your desk is horrible for your health — both physically and emotionally.
05/31/2017 07:00 am ET Updated May 31, 2017
Seth Werkheiser

I spend a lot of time reviewing food photos with some of my patients. This simple visual journal of food is a great way to see a more holistic approach to a client’s diet. Needless to say, I have seen my share of greasy burgers and breakfasts consisting of only a single cheese stick. But it’s not the food itself I find problematic. Because each person is different and a single cheese stick may seem like a fail, but if you consider the person has not eaten breakfast in five years, then a cheese stick is looking a lot better than originally thought. No, what I usually see, which I despise, hanging around in the background of most of these food photos… keyboards. That’s right, more than anything else that connects this diverse group of plugged in patients is their inability to remove themselves from their desk. Eating at your desk is horrible for your health—both physically and emotionally. I often speak at wellness conferences for large companies addressing corporate wellness and trust me, they don’t want you to be there either. So, below are three reasons to step away from your work area and do what your boss really wants, stop working and start eating:

It’s all about the cha ching! Most businesses are all about the bottom line and guess what, if you eat healthy meals regularly, you cost them less in health care premiums in the long run. If you are stressed, not taking breaks, and eating meals at your desk or skipping meals altogether, then you are putting yourself at risk for diabetes, obesity, and CAD (Coronary Artery Disease). To truly understand what chronic skipping of meals can do to you, look no further than the food insecure in the United States. These individuals who have no choice but to skip meals have higher incidences of almost every chronic, nutrition-related disease. Moreover, it seems like you should be chained to your desk if you’re a productive worker, but finding a balance of wellness and work makes you more valuable to the company in the long run. If your office culture is to eat cold pizza lunch at 5:30pm as you are packing your stuff to go for the day, change the culture. Talk to your boss about having a more positive approach to promoting Desk Free Lunches, which will help to reduce stress and improve employee relations.

Your desk is yucky. Yes, we know you have a bottle of wipes in your top drawer, but let’s be honest, who is doing a complete bleach wipe down before the Seamless sushi arrives? No one, as reported by ABC news, your keyboard alone contains E. coli and staph. They are so dirty and difficult to clean that many hospitals have done away with traditional keyboards due to the drug-resistant bacteria that was taking roost. So, instead of eating that bit of rice off your desk, which we all know you do, head to the break room where it is much easier to clean the eating space and remain healthy.

You deserve lunch. This may be the biggest point of the three. You are worth every penny and your boss allowing you that 20-minutes for a meal is something they will have to deal with. I know this sounds sinful and full of yourself, but it’s not. Like many expenses that come along with having an employee, allowing time so you may eat food and be more on your game is not exactly a golden parachute, it’s common decency and good corporate culture. If they respect your time, you are more likely to respect theirs. If they give you time to grub and gab with your office besties maybe your time working will be spent doing work.

At the end of the day, you may only work at your company for a few years, but you will have your health for hopefully much longer. Stepping away from work for just a few minutes a day makes you a healthier, better, and happier employee.

Be Fearless. Be full.

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