Author's Note: I may be writing this while eating lunch at my desk.
And I’m not alone. A 2011 survey showed that nearly 83% of Americans regularly eat at their desks. Whether it’s a regular meal or just a snack, many of us find ourselves eating while working.
Desktop dining is common, but it is a good idea? Eating while reading emails, completing work projects, or even just web surfing causes a distraction, which can lead to overeating. By focusing your attention somewhere else during mealtime, you lose out on enjoying your food—the flavors and textures. Also, you may lose track of exactly how much you’ve eaten. Have you ever finished lunch at your desk and not remember even eating it? Distraction during mealtime may also lead us to ignore our first signs of fullness, which can lead to consuming more than we intended. Ideally, try to get up from your desk at mealtime. Even if you can just step into a break area to eat, getting away from the desk allows for a more mindful eating experience.
But if you have to eat at your desk, it’s important to make sure you do so safely. We know that computer keyboards and desks harbor a lot of germs, so be sure to wash your hands before you eat. If you can’t get to a restroom before lunch, use hand sanitizer or even a moist towelette.
If you’ve brought a lunch that requires refrigeration, put it into the fridge within 2 hours from when you prepared it, or pack it well with ice in an insulated bag. Speaking of the insulated lunch bag, wash it frequently. Check the temperature in the office fridge—is it set below 40°F? If you are reheating a frozen meal, unthaw it in the refrigerator or microwave, not on a countertop. If you get takeout, remember that the same rules apply--make sure food does not sit out for more than 2 hours.
Ideally, get up and eat away from your desk whenever possible. When the weather is nice, eat outside, and maybe even take a short walk after. I promise you, work will still be there when you get back!