Theoretically, in our Western culture we eat 21 meals each week. (3 times 7 equals 21. See how easy that was?) Five of those meals occur in the middle of the typical workday. 24% of your fuel intake happens when you’re supposed to be working. The obvious solution for work day productivity – stop eating lunch.
OK, don’t. That’s bad advice even by my standards of advice. Here’s better advice – eat a good, nutritional lunch every work day. And do it away from your desk. Kimberly Elsbach, a management professor at UC-Davis who studies the psychology of the workplace, says getting away from your desk can provide a boost in creativity.
“Never taking a break from very careful thought-work actually reduces your ability to be creative,” she says. “It sort of exhausts your cognitive capacity and you’re not able to make the creative connections you can if your brain is more rested.”
And research shows that sitting all day is worse for you than generally thought, leading to all sorts of problems like increased risk of heart disease, obesity, metabolic disorders, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and yes, even cancer.
As a sales professional, you probably have six options for lunch.
- Bring something from home.
- Get take-out from a restaurant or vendor.
- Go to a local restaurant when at the office.
- Eat out at a local restaurant when on the road.
- Get something from a vending machine.
- Skip lunch.
Let’s eliminate the last two as just plain wrong. Saves me some time and words, and I’m limited on both of those. If you don’t understand the error of those options, all the articles in the world aren’t going to help.
Bring something from home.
Probably the best overall solution. You can better control the quality and contents, and it is less expensive than other alternates. The problem is you’re likely to sit at your desk and work while you eat, which defeats most of the value of a lunch break. Polls show that only one-third of all employees leave their desk at lunch.
So, get your butt out of the chair and go somewhere else to eat. Your cafeteria or break room, a park bench, whatever. Go get in your car and listen to the radio and relax, but get out from the shadow of your computer display and do something besides job-related thinking or activity.
This has the same problem as bringing something from home – you’re gonna bring it back to your office to eat. DON’T. The added problem with this option is that the take-out probably comes from some fast-food place and you are going to be overwhelmed with stuff that tastes really good, generally because of all the fat and salt they put into it to make it so. A little discretion in your menu choices can help.
Let’s do this visually. Go to the grocery store and buy 1 pound of raw hamburger. Place it over your stomach and then duct tape it to your body. If you ate a fried chicken sandwich every work day this week instead of a broiled one, that’s how much extra weight you put on. Of course, running on your treadmill for 30 minutes each workday will get rid of that. Me? I’d rather eat broiled and relax.
Go to a local restaurant
This choice gets you out of the office and that is very good. It also puts some very tempting and often unhealthy choices in front of you. My suggestion here is to be selective and to make lunch the main meal of that particular day and reduce your dinner intake. In any case, you need the nutrition and energy to get through the work day a lot more than you need it to watch television and go to bed.
Go to a restaurant on the road
All of the problems and few of the benefits. You’re already out of the office, and while it is good to take a break even from travel-related work, it is a little less important unless every day is a travel-related work day. Then you have to treat it like you would the office. Again, exercise discretion in what you select, and make that your main meal of the day.
So, enjoy your lunch.