Research has shown that one in three workers do not take lunch break at work, saying they have too much to do and cannot afford to take time out. It is unfortunate that lunch breaks are suffering for the worker’s zeal to succeed, placing the worker at a high of mental or physical ailment and a low in productivity. One thing can be predicted: such a worker is likely to skip breakfast, lunch and sometimes eat heavily at dinner. This is very unhealthy, to say the least.
What does eating right entail? Healthy eating is not about strict nutritional philosophies, staying thin, or depriving yourself of certain foods. It goes beyond what is on your plate to include how you eat what is on the plate, the time you eat it and even how you think about food. Healthy eating should make the individual feel great, have more energy and be as fit as possible.
Stepping out of the office for lunch has become a setback to achieving set goals for some employees. However, the process of moving away from the work desk to have lunch helps a lot with the release of stress; no doubt the Labour Act of Ghana makes provision for at least an hour break for a worker who spends up to 9 hours of the day at work.
Some may argue that they have good eating habits when in actual fact they sit behind their desks to take in snacks or eat their lunch. Eating at your desk can cause greater problems than simply having crumbs fall in the keyboard or messing up important documents. It means losing the activity you would gain when you walk to the canteen and back. Studies have shown that sitting in one place for a prolonged period of time is not good for either your physical or mental health. Taking the lunch breaks away from the desk also helps improve morale and efficiency for employees.
It is well documented that eating more healthily can improve general well-being and life expectancy. Take small steps towards switching to a healthy eating habit and make the shift gradual. As your small changes become a habit, you can continue to add healthier choices to your plan. The good news is that good eating habits can be learnt. The following steps can help;
- Eat with colleagues whenever possible. When you identify colleagues whom you normally take lunch breaks with, they become a sort of prompt for you whenever it is time to move out for lunch. The presence of other people also help you to mind overeating thus, modelling your eating habit.
- Take time to chew your food and enjoy meal times. Chew your food slowly. The usual practice, especially when you have a lot to do, is to rush through the meals, forgetting to actually taste the flavours and feel the textures of your food. I do not suggest that you spend forever at lunch, but it is good to reconnect with the joy of eating.
- Water helps flush out waste products and toxins from our system, yet many people go through life dehydrated—causing tiredness, low energy, and headaches. Some workers just do not want any distraction and so would not even move to the dispenser to get water. However, staying well hydrated will also help you in shaping your eating habit.
- Avoid eating at night. The new drill as far as meals are concerned is that workers prefer to spend all the time they are active on work and relegate meals to the fore. At night, heavy meals are consumed and then off to bed, they go. Studies suggest that eating when you are most active helps improve digestion as opposed to eating late and going to bed. Eating at the right times helps regulate weight.
Workers need to become good role models to each other where breaks are concerned, and encourage each other to take regular breaks and activity to reduce stress. A cultural shift in the workplace towards proper lunch breaks will improve overall employee well-being, as well as enhance productivity.