7 Tips for Eating Lunch While You Work

70% of Americans who work in an office setting find themselves eating lunch while they work at their desk. Often, businesses are too busy to indulge in a friendly lunch at a resturaunt every weekday. However, what are the downsides to eating at your desk? Most professionals who do so may make poor nutritional choices or even have some safety concerns.

You’re not focused on your food, which can lead to poor eating habits and rushed dining. You’re sitting for increased periods of time where you may have walked even a short distance to get food before. Some foods are only picked at over the course of the day, and for some meals, this can mean your food is growing bacteria--and it doesn’t help that your desk is about 400 times dirtier than your toilet.

Here are 7 tips to maintaining a healthy lunch, even while you work.

Bring your lunch

One way to ensure you’re making healthy decisions when you eat at your desk is to bring your lunch. Rather than order out for a greasy burger or dressing-drowned salad, opt for lettuce wraps with some form of protein inside. Quinoa and black beans is a tasty, easy to make dish that offers a lot of protein and healthy fats to get you through the day.

If you’re not big on cooking, try bringing a fruit or veggie smoothie for lunch. A low calorie option that is often packed with the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy.

If you do order out, be aware of what you’re getting

Sometimes you can’t avoid ordering out. But when you do, you can still make smart choices as far as what you get. Most places will bring you a decent sized serving, but don’t feel pressured to eat all of it or rush through to answer emails. Try for a moderate serving of a salad with dressing on the side or a veggie-packed sandwich. Soups are also a pretty safe choice that will fill you up quickly and without a lot of calories.

You still need to move around

Don’t think that because you have to eat lunch at your desk you can get away with sitting for 8 hours straight. Not only is this absolutely terrible on your spine, it can make you feel overworked and stressed at the end of the day. Taking regular breaks to get up and walk around is essential to your posture and your body’s regular functions.

Clean your desk

Like I mentioned above, your desk--though you won’t necessarily see it--is 400 times dirtier than your toilet. Disinfect your desk with cleaning wipes that contain bleach to kill germs. You don’t need to go overboard, but wiping down your desk once a day (preferably before lunch) is always a good idea. Don’t skip wiping down your phone, mouse, cellphone and keyboard, either.

Try eating with a friend

Even if you’re stuck at your desk for lunch, you can eat with a friend. Invite an officemate over to eat with you or enjoy lunch with your cubemate. 

Give yourself room to eat

While you may not want to bring in a formal placemat on which to eat, you should give yourself space to eat. Mentally, this prepares you for a meal and helps you avoid rushing through lunch to focus on email or calls. Placemats can also act as a barrier between your food and your desk, helping prevent the spread of bacteria if you didn’t wipe your desk down.

Don’t make it a habit

Even if you take a break a few times a week to walk somewhere and get lunch, don’t eat at your desk every day. This can burn you out on work, leave you feeling disconnected and anti-social and overworked. Take a break to read a magazine in the cafeteria or even go to lunch with co-workers.

Though many professionals wouldn’t recommend eating lunch at your desk every day, some people choose to. Using these seven simple tips, you can help make your lunch a little healthier and a little more enjoyable, even if you’re stuck in front of a computer screen.

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by moriza.