5 obvious reasons why we shouldn’t be eating lunch at our desks

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

It seems that many people eat ‘al desko’ now. Workload demands are encroaching on our break times. It’s as if an invisible chain is tethering us to our workstations. Surely no job should do that…

I’d be a hypocrite is I were to say I haven’t done this. When the pressure is on, lunch at my desk gives me extra time to keep turning the cranks. I get short-term gain. But is this traded off against long-term gain? Let’s find out.

Should I leave my desk and go somewhere else for lunch instead?

1. Do it for hygiene reasons

You take a bite out of your sandwich, and smear mayo over your keyboard. You answer the phone and spit lettuce on the receiver. Don’t think it doesn’t happen! Think of the bugs, instead. We can’t see germs, and we know they thrive in a warm environment. Even worse if we consider that hot-desking is commonplace. Who else has been spreading nasty stuff? We answer our bug-ridden phone, grab our delicious wrap (no doubt prepared in a hygienic kitchen) and stuff it in our mouths. Yuck.

2. Do it for vanity reasons

Our desks are not the ideal places to eat soup, are they? Crumbs and splodges fall nicely on table cloths or napkins, but not on our laps. Why ruin that new shirt you’re so proudly wearing? You’ll be spending the rest of the day looking like a child eating spaghetti, covered in tell-tale signs that lunch was on you, literally. How many times have you rushed to the bathroom to hastily scrub sauce of your clothing? (it never comes out properly, and even worse, the resulting stain looks like you have had an accident in the bathroom!)

3. Do it for health reasons

Lunch at your desk is, well, done at your desk. You’ve not moved. Research tells us that sitting down is bad for our health, and a lack of activity is directly tied to six percent of the impact for heart diseases, seven percent for type 2 diabetes, and 10 percent for breast cancer, or colon cancer. Unless, of course, you have one of these stand-up desks. Take a walk; get the heart pumping a little. Each step we take towards our lunch is one less fat cell on our belly or thighs.

4. Do it for social reasons

Staying at your desk means no social interaction. Go meet your friends! We should use our lunch time to let our hair down a little and give ourselves a break. Because we spend so much time at work, our co-workers are as much part of our social group as the buddies we enjoy time with outside it. Use this as an opportunity to sound off and bring perspective to our daily challenges. It’s good for the mind and soul.

5. Do it because you deserve it

You’re not paid extra for the time you stay at your desk to eat lunch. You’re gifting your employer this time, for free. Your generosity should have bounds. You deserve this break – you’ve earned this break. In fact your probably, from a legal perspective, mandated it. Clock up the hours – for simplicities sake let’s say you work 250 days per year – an hour lunch break given over to your employer, throughout one year is 250 hours, equivalent to roughly 31 days. Are you being paid for those 31 days?

How I take my lunch breaks

I have a diverse lunchtime routine (so much so I wouldn’t even call it a routine). Some days, I take a walk to a great little Italian sandwich place where the people are friendly and serve with a cheeky grin. Some days, I eat my lunch in the restaurant on-site, and perhaps read a book or catch up on the news. Other days, I’ll meet some buddies and find a place we haven’t been to before to introduce variety. My lunch break leaves me refreshed to take on the rigors of the rest of the day.

And for those days that I really must eat lunch at my desk, I have some handy wipes to clean my hands and then take a walk when I get home!

Free yourself from your desk today

For just today, try eating your lunch somewhere else. Turn your lunch break into a lunch break.

Still struggling? Then tell us why, by leaving a comment below or starting a conversation in my forum.

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