About half of the American population eats lunch alone. Sixty-two percent of professionals typically dine "al desko," with their faces and take-out meals illuminated by the blue glow of their computer monitors.
Beyond the gross-factor associated with the crumbs that amass between keyboard cracks, there are several health reasons why you shouldn't be eating lunch at your desk. Here are three that are serious enough to convince you to take full advantage of your lunch break:
1. You'll prevent sneaky weight gain.
Casual munching in front of a screen leads to increased calorie consumption, and thus weight gain, the New York Times reported. Though people typically eat more quantities of food when dining with others, we do tend to snack more and ultimately ingest a greater number calories when we eat alone at a desk.
Another drawback of swivel chair meals is the lack of physical activity. Approximately 86 percent of American workers sit for the majority of their day, a level of inactivity that a growing amount of research finds detrimental to our health. Look at your lunch break as recess -- a time to release the ants in your pants, get your blood flowing and just enjoy a change of scene. Any chance to break the pattern of a sedentary life should be taken, and doing so can keep weight from creeping on.
2. You'll actually like your co-workers more.
‘‘Workplace satisfaction is so much higher if you eat with your colleagues,’’ Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, told the Times. ‘‘You like your job more -- and you like your colleagues better.’’
Even if you can't imagine choosing to interact with the work-frenemy who writes you The Most Frustrating Emails Of All Time, she'll improve your well-being more than you probably care to admit. The benefits of socializing are similar to those of exercise: Your stress and blood pressure levels tend to decrease and usually feel happier than before you started.
3. You'll be better at your job.
If you contend you just don't have time to take a lunch break, here's a counterpoint: Researchers have found that employees who socialize are actually more productive than those who don't. And if you're being honest with yourself, while lunching at your desk, you're probably spending more time on Facebook than meeting a deadline. Yeah, caught you.
Still, if lunch time for you is a rewarding alone time, just taking it somewhere other than your desk can make all the difference. As HuffPost editor Alyssa Spatola recently put it, "The world will not end because you ate a salad outside." If it's guilt that's chaining you to your chair -- none of your colleagues go out for lunch -- be the pioneer at your company who relishes daylight. In most cases, your co-workers will either not notice, not care or, if they're really competitive, feel jealous that you're able to manage your time well enough to take a break.
And the funny thing is, taking a break is exactly what helps you manage your time. Physical movement and new visual stimulation gives your brain a break and the chance to reboot, meaning by the time you get back to your desk, you'll be a better employee with a fresher perspective. And, very likely, a satisfied appetite.
H/T New York Times