The Impact of Lunch

As often as you’d like to think that lunch is an optional meal, the reality is that you NEED it! What you have (or don’t have) for lunch can affect how you feel for the rest of the day.


Have you ever opted to work through lunch on a busy workday in order to get more done? Most Millennials say they skip lunch to “get ahead“ at work, but is this a smart move? You always hear that breakfast is “the most important meal of the day,” but lunch is pretty important too – it fuels the second half of your day and has a huge effect on your physical and mental performance. 


Why is Lunch Such a Big Deal? 

Woman sitting in front of a computer screen with her lunch bowl

Not eating a balanced lunch complete with healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and more means less energy in the afternoon (and no, pecking at that bag of trail mix throughout the day doesn’t count as lunch!)  

Skipping lunch can leave you feeling sluggish, tired, slow, and generally just NOT in the mood to do anything productive. If you pass on your break to finish a big work assignment, you might be doing more harm than good!  


What Happens To Your Body When You Skip Lunch 

Man stressed at work because he skipped lunch

When you skip lunch, you get overly hungry and usually end up reaching for easy, quick, high-calorie foods that you’ll likely regret an hour later – AKA a major midday carbo load.  

If you’ve ever found yourself craving carbs during the day it’s probably because you’re not getting the nutrients you need. When you miss a meal or overcompensate with highly processed foods your body goes into “survival mode.” 

Basically, your decision-making abilities get overtaken by your body’s natural response to skipping lunch and you start making bad food choices. In fact, skipping lunch can also lower the quality of your diet which can lead to major health problems down the road.  


Your Health Suffers When You Don’t Eat 

Is it really that bad to skip a meal? Studies show that both your mental and physical health takes a hit when you don’t do lunch properly — that is, if you skipping it altogether, or eat too much or too little during the day! It’s all about finding the sweet spot to keep you performing at and feeling your best.


What Should You Be Eating for Lunch? 

Workers eating their lunch

When you think “lunch”, you probably imagine leftovers, sandwiches, or some takeout down the street from the office. The good news is you don’t need to follow a formula when it comes to your lunch. As long as you avoid carb-heavy foods like white bread and include a rotating variety of vegetables, fruit, protein, and whole grain you’ll be on the right track.  

When it comes to eating right you don’t need to try to squeeze in every tier on the food pyramid into one meal. Instead, your goal should be to balance out the meals you eat throughout the day with a healthy serving from each food group. 

You also don’t need to stuff yourself full of salads either! While leafy greens can help, losing weight, staying healthy, and meeting all your fitness goals isn’t contingent on a diet made up exclusively of kale. Making a few substitutions in your diet can make a big difference. For example, swapping out butter for olive oil when cooking, or eating fresh or frozen fruit instead of dried.  


Bottom line… 

Lunch should be your priority. If you want to get ahead at work, take your break. Studies show that workers who take a consistent lunch break report feeling more refreshed, productive, and happier. Plus, fueling the second half of your day is a big part of job performance and mental clarity. You’re not doing you or your boss any favors by being hungry!