Why eating at your desk is a bad workplace habit.
It’s important to leave the office at lunchtime. Many women need to leave the office on time to get home for childcare responsibilities. This means that they use their lunch break to either eat as they work, miss lunch all together, or use the time for checking into Facebook or Twitter, or catching up on personal emails and admin. Somehow a high percentage of us have become glued to our desks during our lunch breaks. Every day around 60% of office workers eat lunch at their desks. But whether you are picking at a salad, or chomping on a sandwich, there are many reasons why eating at your desk is a bad habit to get into.
Not only should it not be seen as a sign of commitment by your boss, it should be actively discouraged by employers, as all research suggests that failing to take a midday break contributes to a loss of energy and productivity.
Here are 9 reasons to break your eating at your desk habit
1. It is simply unhygienic
Researchers claim that an average desk harbours 400 times more bacteria than an average toilet seat and a keyboard 200 times. Do any of us clean our desks before we start eating? I know I don’t. When you eat at your desk, you not only add to the germs, you also contaminate your food to this germ-riddled environment. The jury is out on which desks are dirtier – men’s or women’s. I have found research to support both theories. So let’s just say that germs are gender neutral.
2. It is bad for digestion
When you are eating at your desk while working or doing anything else, you are not eating mindfully. This leads to digestive problems such as bloating, indigestion and heart burn. Mindless eating can often lead to overeating and become a fast track to obesity. Lower levels of vitamins and high cholesterol levels are also observed in the eating at your desk brigade as we make poor food choices.
3Plus Coach Cassie Schindler suggests: “For one week, write down when and what you eat and HOW YOUR BODY FELT after each meal. After a meal, pause for a moment and place your hand on your stomach. Close your eyes and bring full attention to your breath. Ask yourself, “How do I feel? Stuffed? Satisfied, Unfulfilled?” Mentally revisit the components of the meal and the circumstances surrounding it (sitting, eating in the car or at your desk, relaxed or rushed). Observe your patterns with one intention in mind; feed yourself food that makes your body and mind feel GOOD.”
3. We eat more
When we are focusing on the our lap tops or an annual or sales report, our bodies and brains don’t properly compute correctly the amount of food consumed. So we don’t recognise when the brain has signalled that we are full and should stop eating. This means we have ingested more calories than needed to feel satisfied
4. Poor menu selection
Eating at a desk means that we choose items that are easy to manage, quite often high in carbs, fat and sugar, which puts us on a poor cycle of body sugar highs and lows throughout the rest of the day.This leaves us vulnerable to unhealthy snacking at other times.
5. Causes poor posture
Sitting for long hours at your desk negatively impacts shoulders, back, neck and legs. Seated posture is critically important because it can affect a person’s posture while standing and walking. A lunch break taken away from a desk increases blood circulation improving energy and oxygen to tissues and organs. It’s important anyway to move away from our desks at regular intervals, once an hour if possible during the working day. An eating at your desk habit only adds to the problem.
6. Reduced mobility
Just not moving from your desk in itself to eat lunch outside or in a cafeteria or coffee lounge means that we will be taking those vital extra steps we need to stay healthy. Even standing next to your desk would be an improvement. Better still invest in a pedometer or a fitness tracking device to monitor your physical activity during your normal day.
7. Stifles creativity
Research from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education found that creativity was increased when people moved around rather than sat down. They suggest that creativity increases by as much as 60% when people walk. Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was known for holding walking meetings. We often pace the room when trying to grasp that elusive idea. So if your boss has a problem with you going out for lunch share this research.
8. Reduced social contact
We are social beings and a lack of social contact, reducing the interaction between employees increases feelings of isolation and lack of engagement, leading to reduced productivity. Remember the old adage – “never eat alone.” Use the time for networking whether internally or externally. A lot of unofficial information is divulged in the lunch room or cafeteria. Whether you chat with reports or peers or network strategically off site, it’s not necessarily wasted time.
9. Impacts productivity
A change of scene in itself is enough to stimulate creative juices, reduce feelings of fatigue and increase energy levels. All of these factors lead to increased productivity.
What would you add?
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