Remember when breakfast used to be the most important meal of the day? Not after you read this.
A new U.S. study suggests that lunch is the most neglected meal in the Western diet. And I completely agree.
How many times have you sat on your desk around lunch hour and continued to work while snacking on a fruit (or a packet of chips – eek!), just because you had too much work? Too many, right?
I’m guilty of this too – there have been days when I’ve been so busy that I’ve let the lunch hour sprint right past me, leaving me with hunger pangs around 4pm, or even overeating at dinner time (worse!).
There’s a stigma around not taking a lunch break in Australia – people tend to think that if they ate their meals at their desk, five days a week, they’d be happier, wealthier and perhaps be able to work a little bit longer and harder. They ignore the fact that by doing this, they might actually be doing the reverse.
Skipping lunch has many repercussions. The biggest one being that it’ll slow down your metabolism and make you overeat your next meal. You may also find yourself craving high sugar and high fat food around 3pm and making a guilty trip back from the vending machine.
Five Tips To Ensure You Eat Lunch
- Pack your own lunch: If budgeting takeaway lunch everyday is your excuse, then my advice is to bring your own meal. When making dinner, plan accordingly so you can pack enough for lunch the next day. I love the combination of protein, small portion of complex carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. For those days when you don’t want to eat last night’s dinner, pack a tin of tuna, salad leaves, leftover raw vegetables (cucumber, red capsicum, tomato, half an avocado), olives, two small cubes of feta and a wedge of lemon – this combination has never failed me.
- Move for 30-45 minutes: Don’t feel like eating just yet? Put on your running shoes and go for a brisk walk, run or lunchtime group fitness class. I guarantee you’ll return craving something substantial. Sweating it out in the middle of the day is really effective in speeding up your metabolism and clearing the mind from work stress.
- Set up a lunch meeting: Be it with your colleague or a friend who works nearby, organise a lunch date or meeting with someone, as this will force you to socialise/work and eat at the same time. If you’re in a rush, get takeaway salad or wrap and sit in the sun for 20 minutes while you finish eating.
- Have morning and afternoon tea: Keep your snack drawer in the office loaded at all times (with healthy food, of course). Eating snacks less than 200 calories for tea will keep the metabolism going and you won’t crave anything nasty after lunch. My suggestion: have portion-controlled nut-based snack to cure the infamous 3.30-itis, like almond butter on corn thins or peanut butter smothered on apple slices.
- Switch off at 1pm: If you need a strict regime, then watch the clock and switch off as soon as the clock strikes 1pm. Don’t check your emails or work on the presentation. Have a chat with a work colleague or go for a walk to your coffee shop – you might just end up grabbing something to eat. Heard the phrase, ‘boredom triggers hunger’? Force boredom and hunger will follow.
Now… let’s say that I’ve convinced and educated you in the importance of eating a healthy lunch; your next mission is to get up from the desk and consume it. Here’s why:
A new study, known as the Tork Report, concluded that an average work desk contains 400 times more dangerous bacteria than a toilet set.
Off I go… away from my desk!