Move over TV dinners, hello desktop dinners! We are now in an era where our work desk also functions as our dining table. Taking into account time pressures and convenience, eating lunch alone at our desk seems reasonable, but food and beverage consultant June Jo Lee calls this “pretty sad” (6). Should we care about where we eat our lunch?
Consequences of Desktop Dining
Approximately 62% of professionals report eating the midday meal at their desk (6). However, it’s not just lunch that people are eating at their workstation, breakfast and dinner also apply (5). We’re forfeiting a proper meal break in the name of productivity.
There may be a benefit to sidelining the staff room and opting for solitary desktop dining. When we eat with other people, particularly with those who are familiar faces, we end up consuming more than if we had dined solo (2,3).
However, the less we eat at lunch, the more we end up snacking later on (6), and we all know how easy it is to accidentally eat a whole bag of chips or any other unhealthy snack food. If that isn’t enough to get you lunching, research has also demonstrated to us that eating while engaging in cognitively demanding tasks (i.e., doing work at your desk while eating lunch) can also cause overeating (1,4).
The Bigger Picture
In her article, Wollan points out that aside from the health implications of skipping lunch, we are also skipping out on the social culture of our workplace (6). The typical staffroom lunch break is not only great for socializing with coworkers and de-stressing, it’s also the perfect setting for creative thinking and idea sharing. Desktop dining takes away the opportunity to get to know our fellow employees and build connections that positively impact human relations at work.
Are you a desktop diner? Do you make time to get away from your desk for meals? Share your tips below.
1. Bellisle, F., & Dalix, A. M. (2001). Cognitive restraint can be offset by distraction, leading to increased meal intake in women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 74, 197-200. Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/2/197.long
2. De Castro, J. M. (1994). Family and friends produce greater social facilitation of food intake than other companions. Physiology & Behavior, 56(3), 445-455. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(94)90286-0
3. Hetherington, M. M., Anderson, A. S., Norton, G N. M., & Newson, L. (2006). Situation effects on meal intake: A comparison of eating alone and eating with others. Physiology & Behaviour, 88(4), 498-505. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.04.025
4. Mitchell, G. L., & Brunstrom, J. M. (2006). Everyday dietary behaviour and the relationship between attention and meal size. Appetite, 45(3), 344-355. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2005.06.001
5. Smith, R. (2004, March 22). Desktop dining cries. Feedstuffs. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.myaccess.library.utoronto.ca/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA114921936&v=2.1&u=utoronto_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=4a80476c0ef6b94198c8404665093c54
6. Wollan, N. (2016, February 25). Failure to lunch. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/failure-to-lunch.html
Photo Credit: https://appetitesforlife.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/eating-lunch-at-desk.jpg