Why eating at your desk is a bad idea

WASHINGTON — How often do you eat lunch at your desk?

Estimates are that between half to two-thirds of workers eat during their shifts. You might be surprised to learn that it does not help productivity — and it can cause health problems.

“You never get that break from work,” Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires told WTOP. “And we really all do need a break from work — and you get much more productive if you take [a break].”

Squires warns that it’s also all too easy to overeat if you have lunch at your desk.

“It’s a lot like when you sit in front of the television, and you mindlessly eat that bag of chips or popcorn or whatever it is that you’re eating,” she said.

“And this is why a growing number of companies — and one is Zappos, the shoe company — have actually started prohibiting eating at your desk.”

It can be a tough habit to break, but Squires has some advice — people need to take small steps to wean themselves off eating “al desko.”

“If you’ve been eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at your desk, or even just lunch … you don’t start cold turkey,” she said.

“So what you might do is, maybe Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you say, ‘Well, those are the days I’m going to start not eating at my desk.'”

Another tip is for coworkers to eat together. “There’s really evidence to suggest it is great for team building, to get to know your colleagues a little better,” Squires told WTOP.

But what if you can’t get away from your desk to eat? At least people can make it healthier and better.

Consider bringing in your own plates, as well as real silverware and maybe a place mat, Squires advised. Then turn off your phone and turn away from your computer.

“You set the scene for a more relaxed lunch,” Squires said. “So even if you’re at your desk, you’re not necessarily working.”

People also need to chew their food thoroughly, just like mom always said.

“There’s actually research that now says if you’re chewing your food more slowly at lunch, you consume a little less,” and you may be less likely to eat more than a snack in the afternoon, according to Squires.

It’s all about giving yourself the time to get away from work for a little bit.

Your body will thank you.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up