Do you take a lunch break?

August 23, 2013 BY: LISA

In our busy days either at work or home it’s easy to overlook lunch due to a lack of time but are we really getting more done? What about the effect on your weight?

Research has been published by ING looking at the lunch habits of Australians at work and found a lot of us are falling short.

The ING Direct research found:

  • The typical Aussie lunch break is between 15-30 minutes
  • 37 per cent of us spend lunchtime catching up on phone calls; 31 per cent do personal admin, 30 per cent go shopping and 24 per cent catch up on social media
  • 31 per cent of us eat lunch in a communal area at/near work
  • 7 per cent use their lunch break to go to the gym
  • Almost one in three (28 per cent) of people habitually eat at their desk; 33 per cent are skipping lunch entirely once or more a week; and 10 per cent work through their lunch break

Some of the benefits of a lunch break according to performance coach Andrew May, writing for the Sydney Morning Herald, are

1. Restore Psychological resources

A 2012 study in the Academy of Management Review highlighted that during the working day we need a lot of self-control over thoughts, emotions, urges and behaviours- all these activities use up our psychological reserves.

Besides regular vacations and adequate sleep, taking a lunch break during the day is an opportunity for resource recovery. The research showed it helped people concentrate and process information better in the afternoon.

2. Improved health

A 2010 study in the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology showed that taking a break in the middle of the work day could improve your health.

The researchers found taking a lunch break and including progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing had a positive impact on reducing blood pressure, improving quality of sleep, reducing asthma and reduction in rheumatic complaints.

3.     Decrease fatigue

A 2009 study, Research in Occupational Stress and Wellbeing, found breaks during the day (including lunch) are effective in fighting fatigue and increasing productivity. To optimise these outcomes, it is recommended that employees should engage in enjoyable and restful activities in the work day.
Read the full story:

So it could be that you will actually work more effectively when you take a break so the idea of saving time by skipping lunch may actually not work out in reality.

Try these ideas:

  • Experiment with productivity– not convinced about the revitalising qualities of taking a lunch break? Do a test for yourself. Try one day without the break and another with a 15-20minute break- see if you really lose any time – the more similiar the tasks you set for the afternoon the better the comparison will be.
  • Make a lunch you could get excited about- if you are getting sick of a vegemite sandwich or tired of salad in winter try something a bit more interesting. Think about taking some left overs or making some soup to have with a crusty roll or baked beans on toast with avocado and spinach or putting some interesting toppings on your sandwich.
  • Share a lunch with colleagues– get everyone to bring something to make up some wraps or sandwiches or whatever the cooking skills of your work colleagues allow. Great team building and makes for great lunches.
  •   Try a walking meeting then short lunch break – if you have a meeting with a small number of people try telling your story walking. Killing two birds with one stone is the ultimate in efficiency – refresh your body and get work done at the same time.


How could skipping lunch or not taking a break affect weight?

Have you ever heard about the afternoon slump? How often do you live it? How strong is your resolve to resist the biscuit tin or the chocolates on sale in the staff room or in the vending machine?

If you missed lunch or failed to make it an occasion you are more likely to be hungry and have much less ability to resist the 3.00pm sugar cravings. Your choice of food at this time is pretty well guaranteed to be sugar laden- particularly if you are not prepared with food you have brought from home. If you have eaten lunch you may not be so crazily hunger deprived and be better able to either resist or be satisfied with a milk coffee. A great idea for a sweet hit at this time is a small handful of dried fruit and nuts – sweet and satisfying for huger.

If you are able to resist the 3.00 o’clock cravings then it’s highly likely the eating starts when you get home. Too hungry to wait for dinner so you start eating while cooking or while waiting? These snacks are rarely as nutritious as the main meal so yet again the idea of taking the time to eat lunch may prove to be advantageous not only to productivity but to your waist line. If you are reading this and eating lunch and still coming home to eat ravenously then putting in an afternoon snack is a great way of overcoming this problem.

Good afternoon snacks are:

  • a milk drink (eg coffee or milo or plain)
  • a tub of yoghurt,
  • piece of fruit
  • Small handful of nuts.

Enjoy your lunch break!

Lisa APD



  1. An answer from an expert! Thanks for connributitg.

    March 1st, 2017

All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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