Dangers of Eating at Your Desk

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You've seen them: the coworkers who, during their lunch break, forgo the trip across the street to the local café and plow through lunch at their desks while never diverging from work. In fact, a survey from the American Dietetic Association finds that nearly 75 percent of office workers eat lunch at their desks as often as two or three times a week.

Sure, working through lunch may have certain social and psychological ramifications—it may be indicative of being a workaholic—but could it affect your weight? A study conducted at the University of Bristol in the UK and published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that it might.

The study of 44 participants sought to examine whether or not being distracted while eating results in more food intake later in the day. One group was asked to partake in a fixed lunch while playing a game of solitaire. The other group enjoyed a distraction-free lunch.

The results? Those playing solitaire during lunch felt "less full" after lunch. Subsequently, the distracted group was more likely to indulge in cookies 30 minutes after finishing their midday meal than those who ate without diversion. Ultimately, the study provides further evidence that distraction-free-dining results in healthier eating habits both during and after the meal.

What This Means for You

No one will tell you not to work when you need to; however, the following tips will help you ensure that your in-office eating habits are as healthy as they can be.

1. Assess your workload honestly. It's easy to be bogged down by an ever-expanding workload. But realize, too, that at times it's equally as important to walk away and clear your mind. A 15-minute lunch break outside or away from the office can help relieve stress and contribute to a productive return.

2. Pack lightly. If you eat at your desk regularly, make sure your meals and snacks are wholesome and healthy. If that means emptying your drawer of empty calorie foods (chocolate bars, chips, pretzels, etc.), then do so. Make sure your lunch includes leafy greens, lean protein, and healthy fats. And pledge to put a stop to your soda drinking habit.

3. Get moving. Sure, it may be a lot to ask of someone who works through lunch daily; however, it's worth stating that going for a leisurely walk during or after lunch can be a big  benefit to your physical and mental health. Not only will a lunchtime stroll help loosen stiff joints, but it will help you digest your meal, burn calories, and relieve stress.

4 Come clean. According to a University of Arizona study, the average office desk contains 20,961 germs per square inch. If you must eat at your desk, be sure to wipe it down with an antibacterial wipe before you dine.

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The American Dietetic Association

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition