Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Take Back Your Lunch At Work

with one comment


Eating lunch at work

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

What are your lunch plans tomorrow?  If you’re like many workers today, you do not have any.  You’ve decided to skip going out with co-workers and classed it up a bit by enjoying your meal at the newest restaurant in town – “Your Desk.”

Yesterday, AM-NY featured this new trend in a front page story, titled “Step Away From The Desk.”  The article cites recent polls taken by The Energy Project, which show that the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from his or her desk. Why?  According to the article, many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late, but it never actually works out that way.

Psychologist Catherine McCarthy, co-author of “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working,” is quoted by AM-NY as saying that pacing oneself actually sustains higher performance, and no truer word has been spoken.  As a journalist, I have found that even on the most stressful of deadlines, taking a lunch break led to a better work flow than staring at the computer screen for several hours straight.  I will go even one step further and say that, in addition to lunch breaks, smaller breaks are necessary throughout the day in order to avoid the stress of the day and keep someone motivated to continue their work.

Recently, Vault.com’s own career expert Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio was on The Takeaway, a national informational morning show program, to discuss the same topic.  Connie encouraged workers to take their lunch breaks.  In addition to the fact that a break from the office monotony helps one refresh for the rest of the work day, Connie states that getting out and about and meeting people for lunch helps the average worker network.  If you stay at your computer all day at work, chances are you might end up staying at the same job for the rest of your life.  In order to go places, networking is the key to future success and there is no better time to network than at lunch.

Connie also stated that a consistent lunch break won’t sound off any alarms should one suddenly go out for a job interviews in the guise of taking a lunch break.  Supervisors and co-workers are more aware of your actions than one would think.  A sudden change in your behavior will be noticed, suspicions will be raised and rumors may be started as to why you are suddenly taking a lunch break once a week.  There is no need for that.

There is also this simple logic.  Some companies do not pay an employee for a lunch break, so why work for free?  There is no reason why you shouldn’t take some time for yourself and relax a bit before going back to the daily grind.  You earned it.  Don’t cheat yourself out of something you deserve.

And if that is not enough to convince you, AM-NY interviewed Elizabeth Stein, a nutritionist, who explains that eating lunch in the office can actually cause you physical harm.  “Elevated stress levels lead to increased cortisol, which leaves fat accumulation in the body,” she told the paper.  She also noted that eating at your desk leads to overeating, because the distractions from work cause you not to realize that you’re full until you’ve eaten too much.  Do you notice how many trips you take to the snack and soda machine at work?

Go out and grab a bite to eat with friends.  Take a real lunch break.  Your mind, your body, and in the long run, your employers will thank you.

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One Response

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  1. I could certainly use a few extra minutes to relax each day. Nothing wrong with letting the food digest a little.

    Fred Smith

    June 25, 2010 at 6:10 am


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