Although I would always recommend stepping away from your desk during your lunch break, there are some days when eating lunch at your desk is the only option. As emails pile up, phone calls come in and your calendar fills up with meetings, there are days that you either eat lunch at your desk or don’t eat lunch at all. During the day, your body needs the most energy in order to complete all of your tasks. Because of this, it is very important not to skip lunch. Take a few of these tips for eating lunch at your desk and make your lunch a glorious meal!
1. Plan and Pack
If eating lunch at your desk is an unavoidable task then embrace it with a plan. At the start of your week, take a little bit of time to plan out what you will eat for the entire week. Make a grocery list, shop for the items and do what you need to do to make it as easy as possible to throw your lunch together the night before. I like to pre-chop veggies for salads, prep 5 zip lock bags of mixed nuts and dried fruit or even cook a large batch of soup and place it in individual glass jars and freeze them, so that all I have to do is pull one out of the fridge on my way out the door. A little bit of planning and preparation go a long way!
2. Keep Food Safety in Mind
When you’re bringing your meal to eat lunch at your desk, it’s important to keep food safety in mind. When purchasing your food, drive immediately home from the grocery store and refrigerate and freeze perishable items ASAP. Wash your hands before prepping your food, cook everything to proper temperatures, avoid cross-contamination and place your pre-prepped lunch back into the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Pack an ice pack in with your lunch and get it into the office refrigerator as soon as you arrive. Remember, if you are eating a perishable item, heat it to the proper temperature before eating it at your desk!
Before taking that first bite, it is important to ensure that your work station is sanitized. Keep sanitizing wipes in your desk drawer so that you can easily wipe your desk off before and after lunch each day. After your desk has been sanitized, it is important not to forget to wash your hands. An office can be a place full of germs and bacteria just looking for a home to feed on! Did you know that some desks can harbor more germs than the average toilet seat? How gross! I bet you won’t forget that one!
4. Easy to Eat Items
Since eating lunch at your desk usually requires multitasking, it is important to bring a lunch that can be eaten easily. Again, I wouldn’t recommend multitasking while eating your lunch (or any meal for that matter!), but sometimes duties call. A few of my favorite easy to eat items include peanut butter and banana sandwiches, carrots and hummus, drinkable soup and whole grain crackers, sliced apples and raw nuts, rice and beans or Greek yogurt and berries.
5. Well Balanced Meal
Even though eating lunch at your desk may feel rushed and unfulfilling, don’t look at it as that! Just like the other meals, lunch should be a well-balanced meal that provides your body with the fuel and nutrients that it needs to get through the rest of the afternoon. While a lunch too large and too heavy in carbohydrates might leave you feeling overly full and tired, a well-balanced meal will give you energy to surge through your to do list. Ensure that your lunch contains a lean protein such as Greek yogurt, beans, quinoa, tofu, chicken breast, turkey breast, etc., just enough carbohydrates, like whole grain bread, brown rice, sweet potato, whole grain pasta, etc., and a dose of healthy fat, such as salad dressing with olive oil, avocado slices, nuts or nut butter, seeds, etc.
6. Something to Sip on
When prepping your lunch, don’t forget to include something to drink with your meal. Instead of throwing in a can of soda, bring a reusable water bottle that can be filled up at the water fountain. Not only will this be a healthier option, but it will lighten your load in the morning too! It’s easy to down liquid calories when you are not truly focused on what you are doing, so prevent this from happening by keeping it out of the office (and your home too!).
7. Get up
Regardless of how busy you are, your health is far more important than any project you are working on. Take any amount of time that can during your lunch break and just move your body. Walk up and down the stairs a few times, stretch your legs, go feel the temperature outside – whatever you have to do to keep the circulation moving through your body, just do it! Sitting at a desk all day long can lead to a slew of health problems beyond the traditional neck and back pain that many people experience.
While sometimes it is unavoidable, try not to make a habit of eating lunch at your desk. Give yourself a break for any amount of time that you can; this will help recharge your batteries, allowing you to be more productive in the afternoon. Do you eat lunch at your desk or do you make it a point to get away?