Think about your lunch habits. Besides ditching the fried food and adding more greens, have you ever focused on where you’re eating that mid-day meal? If you munch over your computer, you are certainly not alone—about half of Americans eat lunch alone and 62 percent of professionals are guilty of dining at their desks.
Although eating at your workspace may seem like the convenient choice, this habit could actually be doing more harm than just getting crumbs in your keyboard. Here’s why you should make 2017 the year you stop using your desk as a dining table.
It’s a chance to unplug. Use lunch as an opportunity to disconnect from email and other distractions. Since it’s easy for your entire day to revolve around your computer, it’s important to give your eyes a rest—especially since too much screen time has been shown to affect sleep, can lead to eye strain, and has been linked to metabolic syndrome. Step away from your screen and go somewhere relaxing to enjoy your meal. You’ll return to your desk feeling recharged and ready to get back to work.
It’s an opportunity to socialize. Rather than eating at your desk, grab lunch with coworkers and enjoy a meal together. Use this as a time to socialize with teammates and get to know each other better—not just from a work standpoint, but on a personal level, too. Talk about hobbies, weekend plans, or even the healthy recipe you’re planning to make for dinner. Socializing with coworkers over lunch can not only make your meal more enjoyable, research suggests workplace chatter increases productivity.
It’s a way to control your weight. It has been reported desk-eating can lead to increased calorie consumption. When you’re munching at your desk, you’re often distracted by the screen in front of you and paying less attention to the food you put in your mouth. And it’s not just lunch you need to worry about, it’s snacking too. According to The New York Times, in a study of 122 employees, people on average stored 476 calories’ worth of food in their desks. With this in mind, try keeping your food-stashing and leftover-hoarding to a minimum, and opt for healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit and nuts.
You can move more! When you stay tied to your desk at lunch, you end up missing an opportunity to move. Since 86% of American employees sit the majority of the day, why not use lunch as an opportunity to take a few steps to a different dining spot? Get your legs moving, your blood pumping, and find a change of scenery! You might even decide to take a stroll at the end of your meal, before going back to your desk.
Keep in mind that eating away from your desk doesn’t have to mean eating out. You can simply pack a healthy lunch and bring it to your cafeteria, a communal office table, or even outside. By making this the year you stop eating at your desk, you’ll set yourself up for a healthy and happy 2017.
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.