Guess what? Lunch is not just about eating. Lunch time at the office for me means two things:
1) Eat a healthy, nutritious lunch
2) Take a break
Eat a healthy, nutritious lunch
The options you have for lunch will depend on your office facilities and location. I’m fortunate that I have a pretty good restaurant on site plus there’s plenty of other options all within walking distance. Whatever your options are like, you can still make a healthy choice at lunch time. Stay away from fried or fast food, watch any sauces or dressings that are included and avoid fizzy sugary drinks. If you really are struggling for a healthy alternative at lunch time then you should look to bring your lunch in with you. Your fridge is stuffed with quality foods making it easy to put together a healthy and nutritious lunch the night before, right?? Seriously though, the healthiest lunch you can eat is the one you make yourself. You control everything that goes into it!
I understand time can be an issue for a lot of busy office workers at lunch time. Five minute lunch breaks or even lunch time meetings can be all too common. If this is a reality at lunch time for you then you need to plan in advance. DO NOT skip lunch. When you are hungry, you’ll be more impatient, more likely to make rash decisions and more irritable! Not a good mix. Either have a prepared lunch with you or have a quick (and healthy) alternative in mind within close proximity that you can avail of when you’re in a rush.
So what exactly makes a healthy lunch? Use a mix of some of the following in sandwiches or salads: wholegrain/whole-wheat breads or wraps, lean meats, tuna, beans, eggs, greens, tomatoes, peppers, onions, avocado etc. Make/buy a hearty vegetable soup (without dairy or salt if possible). Supplement these with some fruit and mixed nuts.
The key is to try and get a balance of lean or low fat protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates to fuel your body for the afternoon.
Take a break
Lunch time for an office worker shouldn’t just be about eating. Almost as important as what you eat at lunch time is ensuring that you take a break from whatever it is you have on that day, be it meetings, calls or simply your computer screen.
I spoke in a previous blog about exercising at lunch time and if you can do this at your place of work then go for it! I try and exercise twice a week at lunch time, this is in addition to my other training sessions outside of work.
On a day when I don’t already have exercise planned for my lunch break, I still try and get outside for a walk for 20 or 30 minutes before or after I have something to eat. Taking a break at lunch time helps clear the mind. At a minimum you should stretch your legs and get away from your desk for at least 15 minutes. You’ll come back to your desk with a fresh perspective on whatever you’re working on.
Set up a walking or running group with your colleagues at lunch time. As well as getting some exercise you’ll also boost team morale and maybe get to know a few colleagues outside of the work environment. If you’re committed to an exercise group at lunch time you’re more likely to get away from your desk, even if you are really busy.
In many Latin American countries, it’s quite common to take a two hour lunch break. You may start work a little earlier and perhaps finish a little later but there is a culture of taking a significant break in the middle of the day to relax, unwind and re-energise yourself before heading back to work. I’m certainly not suggesting that two hour lunch breaks are necessary (although feel free to suggest it to your boss!), but I do think it’s important to emphasise the importance of taking a break in the middle of the working day.
A healthy, balanced lunch combined with some form of a break and/or exercise will benefit your work, your health and your mind in the long run. That’s something I’m sure that every progressive employer will support, so spread the word about lunch to your busy colleagues and start enjoying your lunch break the way you should!