Are You Too Busy For Lunch?

Don't Be Too Busy For Lunch

It's a popular notion that we will get more done if we skip lunch. I know, since I used to buy into this belief as well. Today hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, will skip lunch in order to accomplish more at work. They'll say, "I have too much to do. I can't make lunch today." Or, "lunch is a waste of time. I'll tough it out and get more done." "I'm swamped. No time for lunch." I know since these were a few of my sayings.

Unfortunately they couldn't be farther from the truth. Etienne Grandjean, M.D., Ph.D., an expert on productivity at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, says eating a good lunch is highly recommended "for both health and work efficiency." According to various studies, researchers agree that performance scores plunge when people skip lunch and those who skip lunch soon feel more anxious and tense.

Should You Skip Lunch When You're Busy?

Skipping lunch can also slow your metabolism and cut your energy production throughout the day and lead to a ravenous appetite at dinner time. And Wayne Callaway M.D., clinical professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, says, "People who skip breakfast or lunch tend to get more tired and binge in the evening, instead of eating moderately and having more energy throughout the day."

Ironically, the desire to get ahead and get more done actually leads to less productivity and burn-out if lunch is skipped on a regular basis. People will often try to compensate for their lack of energy by drinking coffee or caffeinated drinks instead of eating lunch. However, this simply makes a bad mistake worse by causing your body and brain to work harder and harder on less fuel. Our bodies need to recharge with a relaxing lunch break and a satisfying lunch and instead we're making our motors work beyond capacity. Eventually our motors will burn out.

Thankfully, the solution is simple. Whether you're a mom in the middle of running errands with her kids, a CEO in the middle of a major reorganization, or a college student studying for an exam, DON'T SKIP LUNCH. Ignore the temptation to skip lunch in order to get more done by remembering the facts that it doesn't work. Realize if you make time for lunch you will more than make up for this time with an increase in productivity and energy.

Think of it this way. A 20-minute lunch will provide you with hours of energy. It's worth it.

How To Make Lunch A Habit: Eat An Energizing Lunch

So now you know that it's important to make time for lunch. Now the questions are, how do I make lunch a habit and what should I eat? While the answers can be an entire book in itself and many have been written, here are a few tips to help you make lunch an energizing part of your day.

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1. Plan your meals the night before. Experts say that we make between 20 and 30 food choices a day. If we make these choices when we are so hungry we can't even think we are more likely to go through the fast-food drive thru than eating a healthy lunch. Planning your meals the night before sets you up for success. When planning decide whether you will eat outside or inside the office or home. Decide what restaurant you will visit and what you will order. If you decide to eat in the office or home, it would be a great idea to prepare your lunch that night. That way when you get hungry, lunch is ready.

2. There's nothing worse than eating a huge lunch and then feeling horrible the rest of the day. The key is to eat a big enough lunch to satisfy you but not so big that you need a nap afterwards. I used to eat so much food at lunch that I felt useless the rest of the day. Now I eat lunches that don't put me to sleep and if I find myself getting filled up I ask for a to-go box and eat the rest as a mid-afternoon snack.

3. Remember to eat whole foods. No matter what diet you may be trying, the best source of fuel for our body and brain are foods from nature. Instead of white processed bread choose whole grain bread. Instead off fat-filled processed foods, choose whole grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

4. Nutrition experts also recommend we include some protein as part of our lunch. Proteins such as turkey, chicken, fish, and lean meat take longer to digest which sustains our blood sugar level and keeps us from being hungry again soon after lunch.

5. Consider the case of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich when making choices for lunch. For the bread you can choose whole grain bread instead of white bread. For the peanut butter you can choose all natural peanut butter from brands such as Smuckers instead of the processed peanut butter laden with hydrogenated oils and sugar. For the jelly you can choose all natural fruit preserves such as Palmer All Fruit instead of fructose corn-sweetened, sugar-laden jelly. The little differences in these choices will make a big difference to your energy and health.

6. Other energizing lunch choices include:

* Salad with low fat dressing and grilled chicken or fish
* Southwest Burrito with chicken or tofu, lettuce, salsa, peppers and onions
* Turkey on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato
* Sushi
* Fish with steamed vegetables and a side of fruit
* Tuna sandwich with mustard and lettuce

For more healthy lunch choices visit my favorite health and wellness Doctor, Dr. Andrew Weil at He is the co-author of Healthy Kitchen and the author of Eating Well for Optimum Health.

Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
LongStreet Press, Inc. ©2003.

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