Banish the boring lunch

Nutrition webinar at work

Banish the boring lunch

Banish the boring lunch

and make your lunchtime the most productive part of your day

Did you know the average lunch break in the UK is now just 22 minutes, with 1 in 5 never leaving their desk? The health risks of a poor diet and not taking a lunch break are well documented but why do we fail to see sense when it comes to combing work and eating well?

We live in the land of eating-on-the-go combined with a society that promotes the need to be available at all times. It’s no wonder we struggle to justify sitting and stopping. In fact, nearly 25% of us take no lunch break at all.

Lunchtime is not just about the time it takes to inhale a sandwich. Yes, it’s about fuelling the body but it’s also about stepping back and mentally recharging.  30 minutes for lunch is both realistic and doable but if this feels too difficult, begin with 15 minutes. We must work hard to protect this time because our lunch break is our most productive part of the working day!

We lose ~18 days a year from consistently NOT taking a lunch break. The most common reasons for not stopping are excessive workload, feeling the need to deal with unexpected tasks and boring lunch options.

Sporadic eating patterns and mindless food choices contribute to tiredness, lack of focus, poor decision making and being unwell more often. It is well documented there is a huge negative impact on our productivity.

When busy, it’s all too easy to fall into the familiar pattern of eating the same old thing. If you are feeling uninspired about lunch, then what reason do you have to take the time to eat it?

Eating well needs commitment. This requires you to raise your eating habits further up your list of priorities. It’s your choice………and you do have a choice.

Here are 7 practical ideas to help you combat ‘death by salad or ham sandwich’ and create an office culture (wherever you work) that is conducive to better health, happiness and productivity at work.

  1. Plan. Plan your lunches ahead of time, just as you might plan your evening meals, meetings or holidays. Saying I don’t have time or what if I don’t feel like it on the day are excuses to procrastinate further and not help yourself. Planning can also help you to mix things up a bit! Try alternating veggie, fish, egg and meat options through the week. If you are veggie, alternate a different bean, lentil, pulse and grain. Why not challenge yourself to a new lunch option each week?
  2. Prompts. Make your lunch options easy and visible. We buy convenience food because it makes life easier, with little decision making. Keep your options close to hand. Just as biscuits and cakes on the side prompt us to eat them, we can do the same with healthier options.
  3. Share. If you are in shared office or co-working space, why not start a pot-luck lunch group where you take it in turns to make lunch for each other. This can open you up to trying new foods (and we often try harder to impress if we are feeding others!)
  4. Think outside the box. Your options here may well depend on having access to a kitchen or microwave but having the choice of hot or cold is a good start.
    1. Leftovers are the easiest things to have for lunch so factor this in when making dinner the night before, particularly if you have re-heating facilities. Microwave a jacket potato or a 2 min rice and grain pouch to make a little leftover go further.
    1. Thermos food flasks are better these days at keeping food hot rather than lukewarm.
    1. Eat the rainbow. We first eat with our eyes! Work on including different colours, textures and tastes to get those taste buds firing and hit that satisfaction button.
    1. Fill pittas and wraps or bake them in the oven to create a different dipper for dahls or soup. Check out BBC Good Food for healthy lunchbox ideas like baked mini omelettes and falafels.
  5. Make it an occasion. Your digestive system will thank you for eating whilst sitting. Find a quiet spot AWAY from your desk. Eating directly from Tupperware increases eating speed so use a proper plate and some cutlery so you can see what you are eating without the need to shovel it in!
  6. Invest in functional gadgets. This may be a funky eco-friendly lunch box with compartments, food prep containers or a soup maker. They may take up space but if they help you save time and making lunch becomes nicer, then do it.
  7. Take small steps. Little dietary changes lead to significant improvements, so be patient.

TAKE HOME QUESTION: What will you have for lunch this week and where will you eat it?

Mel Wakeman

Registered Nutritionist and founder of Wakeman Nutrition and creator of the Anti-Diet System

Bio: Mel is an independent and well-respected expert coach, speaking on National TV and Global Radio. Wakeman Nutrition delivers immersive well-being workshops and webinars for companies who are ready to engage with their workforce to increase health and happiness in the workplace.