As much as you’d like to spend your afternoons lounging at a restaurant, having a long lunch on the company’s dime, that’s far from the reality for most workers. If you’re swamped with work, you may not even have time to cook a pot of ramen noodles in the break room microwave, let alone take a leisurely lunch.
While it’s never ideal to skip meals -- your brain needs that fuel to keep you focused and productive at work -- there may be times in your career when you have to work right through the lunch hour. Over time though, that can cause blood sugar crashes that lead to mood swings. It can even force your body into so called "starvation mode," which will cause it to store fat, leading to weight gain. As your weight increases, so does your risk of chronic disease.
If you have to do it, here’s how to ensure you’re still staying healthy.
Eat a Hearty Breakfast
You can avoid some of the blood sugar crashes that come with skipping meals by eating a full, healthy breakfast before the work day begins. Make your meals include a combination of carbohydrates, protein and fats, so that your body will have energy sources to tap into for the majority of the day. If you eat only carbs -- eating something like cereal, for example, you’ll be providing your body with a dose of quick energy, but that can burn off long before the work day is done. Eat eggs and toast, a croissant with ham and cheese, toast with peanut butter and yogurt and fruit, or other hearty options that will leave you satisfied and fueled for the day.
Keep a Stock of Healthy Snacks that Don’t take Much Prep Time
Just because you’re not taking your lunch break doesn’t mean you have to skip eating altogether. It’s totally feasible to keep enough healthy snacks tucked away in your desk drawer to fuel you right through to dinner time. So what to stock? Things like nuts, granola, and granola bars need absolutely no prep. You can also spend some time in the mornings cutting up fruits or veggies that you can dip in peanut butter, almond butter or hummus. Whole-grain crackers and cheese can also make a hearty snack. Even a simple sandwich is easy to eat on the go. Whatever you do though, don’t rely on the candy bars and simple carbohydrates in the office snack machine as your main source of afternoon fuel.
Don’t Rely on Coffee to Prop you Up
What’s more, don’t rely on the office coffee service too heavily. While it might seem like it’s giving you that afternoon boost you need, coffee can also be messing with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. Thus, it could be contributing to those bursts of energy followed by those intense crashes that make it so tough to get through the day.
Monitor your Caloric Intake so You’re Sure you’re Getting Enough
To avoid going into the starvation mode that can cause your body to store fat, use a calorie tracking app on your smartphone or a similar program online. Programs such as MyFitnessPal or Livestrong’s MyPlate allow you to enter in your foods and portion sizes, thus tallying your daily caloric intake. They’ll also give you a reading of the amounts of fats, carbohydrates and protein in your diet, which can help you determine whether you need to alter what your eating to stay more in balance.
While skipping lunch on a regular basis is not ideal, it doesn’t have to mean your health goes downhill. Plus, it could save you lots of money by avoiding eating out.
Do you regularly skip lunch to get work done? How does it affect you? Your thoughts and comments below please...