According to a recent study by Aviva Health, Health of the Workplace, you’re not alone. Thirty percent of employees surveyed said they were likely to skip a regular lunch break. Aviva found that almost 15 percent of employees skipped meals entirely because of stressful workloads, while 25 percent said their decision to take lunch or not depended on whether they had the time.
Many of us would have fallen in with the 30th percentile, those who skipped lunch in order to complete their work. If you’re like these workers, you rarely take yourself away from your desk for a leisurely meal break. You probably feel virtuous about it, too, since skipping lunch seems to have become part of the new American work ethic. But skipping lunch isn’t good for you– and it isn’t good for your employer either.
From a health perspective, it’s important to refuel with a nutritious lunch, especially in the midst of a stressful day. When we’re stressed, we get an adrenaline rush that may mask our hunger pangs, but our body still craves food. Without midday nourishment, our body experiences dropping glucose levels. Glucose is something our cells (including those all-important gray cells) need in order to function properly. Eventually, skipping lunch will slow one’s metabolism, which may explain why we find ourselves stifling yawns at three in the afternoon.
But more importantly, taking a lunch break forces us to Unplug and Reconnect. The very act of getting up and walking away from our computers helps us recharge our batteries. Sometimes, when we give ourselves a brief respite, we find that our problem-solving skills grow stronger, that our creative juices start to flow again. A workload that seemed insurmountable before lunch seems more manageable once we’ve walked away from it for a while.
If you’re an employer who hopes for an energized workforce, encourage your employees to take lunch. If you’re an employee who’s tempted to skip lunch, step back and repeat: Let’s do lunch.