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Why You Need to Take a Lunch Break

If you’re looking for one simple thing that you can do every day to improve your health, it’s this: take a lunch break.

why you need to take a lunch break

I know what you’re thinking: “I’m way too busy for that.”

Here’s the thing: giving yourself a real break, even if it’s a quick one, will not negatively impact your productivity – and in fact it will actually help it. Here are 3 big reasons why you need to take a lunch break.

tuna salad packed lunch

1) You will be more satisfied by what you are eating – and you might eat less, too.

As you guys know, I’m a big proponent of intuitive and mindful eating. (I even offer a 6 week intuitive and mindful eating course.) Mindful eating, which basically just means actually paying attention and focusing on the experience of eating (see also: a guide to mindful eating), will help you to savor your meal and allow you to listen for cues your body sends you when it is full and has had enough. It’s hard to enjoy your meal and avoid eating past fullness when you don’t even realize you’re eating because you’re focused on your email. Have you ever had that “Wait, is that already gone?” thought with food you’ve eaten while distracted?

In a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that distracted eaters felt significantly less full after lunch than those who ate without distractions. They also ate about twice as many cookies 30 minutes later than those who ate lunch without distractions.

spinach-quinoa-salad-3-1024x683Pictured above: Lemony Spinach Quinoa Bean Salad – simple packed lunch idea!

2) Multitasking is bad for us.

It’s becoming pretty obvious that multitasking is not good for us, and yet it seems more and more prevalent. Our constant need to feel connected paired with overwhelming to do lists tempt us to try to juggle it all at once – and to go ahead and eat lunch while we’re at it, too – but all that multitasking is not doing us any favors personally or professionally. In fact, multitasking makes us less productive – and more stressed.

A recent study of over 1,000 workers at a British company from the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London even found that multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or losing a night’s sleep. Wow. Crazy, right?

3) Changing your environment will positively impact the rest of your day.

Even if you aren’t actually eating during your lunch break, taking a short walk will do wonders for your mood – in a fact, research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that walking increases creativity!

Studies also show that even brief breaks will vastly improve focus – so you will be more productive if you allow yourself a break than if you try to power through and skip it.

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Bottom line: taking a lunch break will make you healthier and happier. In addition to increasing productivity and focus, taking a break will also allow you to fully savor your lunch, decreasing the likelihood of overeating – and increasing satisfaction. It will also give you a chance to sneak more movement into your day! Even better – have lunch (or take that walk) with a coworker. In addition to boosting mood, strong social ties in the workplace will also boost productivity – and lead to potential collaboration!

So – close that laptop, push back your chairs, and take your lunch break, whether long or short. Every minute will help. :)

Do you prioritize taking a lunch break? If you need some lunch ideas, check out my packed lunch section of my recipe page and here are some Simple & Healthy Weekday Lunch Ideas!

Related posts you might also like:

Thank you to Kura for sponsoring this post! Kura is your perfect protein powder from grass-fed dairy: GMO and gluten-free, with natural ingredients and no added sugar. Check out my Lemon Ginger Berry Protein Smoothie for some recipe inspiration! And on the subject of breaks from the workday, I love making simple snack balls by mixing equal parts rolled oats, almond butter, and Kura protein powder (usually vanilla or chocolate flavor) with a splash of pure maple syrup for sweetness and a splash of water to help them bind. They make a great afternoon snack – or even a stand-in lunch for chaotic days!

Click here to see where you can buy KURA near you (they are now available in CVS, which is convenient!) – and click here to download a printable coupon good for $3 off a KURA product. You can redeem it at any retailer that stocks KURA. And if you can’t find it near you, it’s also available on Amazon. :)

Comments

  1. 1

    Great post Anne. I still eat distracted in front of my computer but then I take an after work lunch walk. My lunch break is only 30 minute so it has to be one or the other unfortunately. But I have noticed a huge change in my productivity and alertness in the afternoons since I started walking.

  2. 3

    Yes! I always make sure to take a lunch break and I find it boosts my productivity in the afternoon so much. As you mention, mindful eating increases feelings of satiety, so I’m not distracted by a rumbling stomach at 3pm, and getting out and getting fresh air always helps my focus levels in the afternoon (not to mention all the times I’ve figured out the solution to one of my coding problems mid-walk!).

  3. 4

    Yes! I truly need my lunch break to decompress from work for a bit.

  4. 5

    I never really respected a proper lunch break until I moved to Germany. Here the norm is to take a midday break for a hot meal with your colleagues — and so far all of my workplaces have offered their own cafeteria, because lunch is *that* important! It’s kind of seen as anti-social to scarf down your meal alone in front of your computer.

    I used to think taking a proper break was a waste of precious work time, but now I’m a convert — I definitely accomplish more on those days where I take a break for lunch than when I don’t: my concentration is better and I have more motivation!

  5. 7

    I definitely take a break whether it’s to actually eat my lunch or if I eat my lunch at my desk, then I take my lunch break to workout!

  6. 8

    Great post Anne! When I worked in an office I had to get fresh air and took a walk almost everyday at lunch.

    • 9

      Lunchtime walks are the best – my fave! Makes such a difference with mood. I used to bring my lunch outside, eat, and then walk the rest of the time. So nice!

  7. 10

    I run during lunch nearly every day. It helps me refresh and makes my afternoons so much more productive than they otherwise would be. So much so, that if my boss walks by my office and sees me working at 12:30, he’ll shove me out the door to run because apparently I’m “cranky” when I don’t get my run in! Love it!

    • 11

      That’s awesome – not only that you do that, but that your boss supports it! In the US I think a big problem is the work culture – everyone is encouraged to skip lunch/work through it and to feel bad about taking breaks. Not good!

  8. 12

    So important to take breaks, especially lunch breaks. Lunch is so often a neglected meal. Thank you for the reminder.

  9. 13

    Love this! I definitely know that a change of surroundings helps me to feel more focused when i go back in for the rest of the day!

  10. 15

    Breaks are so important, no matter how long or short they are. As a teacher, I only get 20 minutes for lunch. But during those 20 minutes I make it a priority to join other teachers in the workroom and not worry about the work sitting on my desk.

  11. 17

    I usually eat in my office, but I love going out for a walk or a run during my lunch hour. As you said, it really makes the afternoon feel better and it seems to go by faster :-)

  12. 18

    I used to be one of those who could not ‘afford’ a 10mins break from the computer. However, once I decided to prioritize it, I realized that I can ‘afford’ a whole 30mins without sacrificing my workload! I only wish it rained less here in UK so I could go for a walk outside more often.

    • 19

      So glad to hear you have made taking a break a priority! I think we way we should look at it is that we can’t afford NOT to take a break!

  13. 20

    Yes, I agree that the lunch and the break is very important for us. A few minutes for break during work is perfect for our body and mind. Thank you Anne for this note

  14. 21

    This makes sense, but I’m a teacher with a 3 month old so I’ll be spending my lunches pumping in whatever closet/secret location I can find. Even when I’m not breastfeeding, I don’t really take lunch breaks. I try to do whatever work I can while I eat, because everything I can get done means one less thing I have to do after school and a few more precious minutes with my kids!

  15. 23
    Jenna Peters says:

    I think it is great that you offer a course on this topic. Too often, in our society, we try to fit everything in, searching for the 25th hour. But this technique teaches us to slow down and enjoy our surroundings, including how we nourish our bodies. I also appreciate that you speak about listening to your body’s internal hunger and satiety cues as opposed to external cues, such as finishing what is on your plate.
    I truly enjoy reading your blog!

  16. 25
    Roadrunner says:

    Characteristically sensible and persuasive, Anne… Thx!

  17. 26

    Thanks for this! I work in Dupont (and also live in Arlington lol) and love Glen’s! Can you post a link to the peanut butter protein balls?

    • 27

      Nice! Glen’s is the best. The PB protein balls recipe I was inspired by is this one! I used almond butter, KURA vanilla protein powder, and cut down the sweetener to half and used maple syrup instead of honey, and I added some dried fruit (probably 1/4 cup or so of dried tart cherries and raisins) to the mix too. Plus a splash of water! Enjoy!

  18. 28

    I can’t make it through my day without taking a lunch break. Sometimes I am guilty of eating at my desk but I always make an effort to go outside the office for a walk and get some fresh air!

  19. 29

    I am in love with this! Everyone is so distracted by social media. I totally agree with the taking a walk. Taking a walk is one of my ways to actually connect with nature and get away from all the stress. I live near a cafe too so when I study during the semester I take a break by taking a walk to go get some coffee….now thats my kind’ve way to unwind ;)

    Love your posts!

  20. 32

    I need to take this to heart! Making a goal to try to take a lunch break today! Thank you for the reminder.

Trackbacks

  1. […] butter protein bites (the ones I mentioned the recipe for at the very end of Tuesday’s post about Why You Need to Take a Lunch Break) in the car and ate them on my way back. I also stopped for a whole milk iced latte as a treat. […]

  2. […]  Eating lunch at your desk is not the best idea for a multitude of reasons (check out a great post on this from Anne), and for me the most harmful one is that I wasn’t getting a mental break.  I […]

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