Office Lunch Breaks

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This article on the endangered lunch hour on msnbc.com is driving me crazy today. I generally agree with the premise of the article, that taking time out for a healthy lunch is important for both health and productivity, but then I got to this quote:

And it’s women executives who seem most lunch-away-from-the-office adverse. More than half, or 57 percent, of women polled said they brought their lunch from home, compared to 36 percent among their male manager counterparts.

Sure, it looks good if you’re busting your butt to get work done, especially in this tough job market, but not taking time out for a healthy lunch could have far-reaching ramifications.

This is just crazy. Bringing your lunch from home does not necessarily equate to eating at your desk, and the idea that you would have a healthier lunch if you went out to a restaurant is just ludicrous. I mean, yes, it is possible to get healthy food at some restaurants, but it is much more likely that you will eat something full of fat, sugar and too many calories. I bring my lunch from home because I want to have a healthy lunch. That does not stop me from going to the cafeteria to eat with friends, or at least taking a break from work to check out my twitter feed.

I find this article so frustrating because it has both bad data assumptions and bad advice for fixing the problem. I absolutely agree that taking a break to eat a healthy lunch makes you healthier and a more productive employee. Breaks allow us to be more productive, and healthy food fuels our bodies so that we can do better in all areas of our lives. But going from brown bagging it to being a workaholic is a huge leap, and recommending eating out instead of bringing healthy food you made at home (so you know what is in it) is counter productive.

Skipping lunch breaks is a real problem, especially if it is due to pressure in the corporate environment to look busy all the time. Creating an appearance of industry that actually results is less work of lower quality getting done is not what anyone really wants. Demonstrating the actual problem and giving good advice for fixing it would be more helpful than tossing around statistics that don’t mean what they are being reported to mean.

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