August 14, 2023

Lunch can be about much more than food. Done right, a lunch break supports physical and mental health.

A lunch break is a time to eat a midday meal and relax. It’s an opportunity to reduce stress and build up energy stores for the afternoon.

We are more likely to make unhealthy food choices and overeat once hunger strikes. Whether you are working from home or have a busy workload, lunchtime is a moment in the day to give back to your health. Observing a lunch break can help you set up a healthy lifestyle. What you eat for lunch can affect how you feel all afternoon. Eating food or drinks high in sugar can set you up for an energy crash later in the day. Instead, you can opt for healthy afternoon snacks that will help keep your energy more constant.

Follow these 4 tips for a mindful and healthy lunch break:

  1. Plan a time and space for a lunch break. Working through lunch or eating at your desk or workspace may be tempting. Taking a proper lunch break — in a different setting, devoted to the meal — will help you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the day.
  2. Drink a big glass of water 15 minutes before your break. Research shows that drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal can put off cravings and prevent overeating.
  3. Pack your lunch ahead of time. If you are traveling to your workplace each day, packing a lunch to bring with you — or planning what and where you’ll buy your meal — allows you to make mindful and healthy choices. How can you make this a routine in your life?
  4. Enjoy your food. It is very easy to get distracted by your environment while eating. To eat more mindfully, try using all five senses. Before taking your first bite, notice the color and aroma of the food in front of you. After your first bite, take a moment to notice the texture, taste and sound the food makes in your mouth.

Adding a short walk to your lunch break will also help burn calories, clear your mind and boost your energy in the afternoon, especially if your job keeps you sitting most of the day.

Source: Health Plus, which provides resources to support the health of Vanderbilt faculty and staff.