These Common Work Lunch Habits Are Actually Terrible for Your Health

It’s not uncommon to stress about making time for breakfast before work and what you’re going to have for dinner when you get home, but disregard lunch completely. You can just grab something down the street from your office for the fourth time this week, right? At work, it’s hard to pay attention to what you’re eating, and that’s a problem. You can fix it.

You might eat worse at work than you do everywhere else, and you don’t even know it. Are you guilty of some of the worst work lunch habits for your health? Here’s what you can stop doing to save money and eat better, at least for one meal out of three. On page 5, we’ll tell you why one of the most convenient places to eat lunch is actually one of the worst.

1. Always taking advantage of free food

Pizza is delicious, but you don’t want it every day. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It’s always a pleasant surprise when you show up to a dreaded lunch meeting and there’s an entire table full of pizza there for the taking. Unless it happens more than once a month. Nothing’s ever really free, considering the potential long-term costs of eating too much free pizza too often.

Next: Forgot to pack a lunch? Don’t settle for this instead.

2. Building your lunch from the nearest vending machine

woman using a modern beverage vending machine

Vending machines rarely offer healthy options. | kasto80/iStock/Getty Images

Vending machine snacks are great for short-term stress and hunger relief, but don’t get into the habit of making a lunch out of things you can dispense within seconds. Until every workplace has healthier options, pack your own snacks — or a bigger lunch.

Next: These meals are quick and easy, but they’re also terrible for you.

3. Heating up an instant meal

Detail of male hand while using the microwave

There aren’t many healthy microwaveable meals. | Rostislav_Sedlacek/iStock/Getty Images

Not everything you pick out from the frozen section in the grocery store will give you heart disease. But a microwavable instant meal might, if that’s all you ever eat for lunch. These entrees typically either pack in too many questionable ingredients or don’t offer enough sustenance to keep you from snacking too much before dinner.

Next: Never, ever eat here while at work.

4. Eating at your desk

man working on laptop on office desk

Sometimes the pull of eating at your desk is irresistable. | iStock/Getty Images

We’ve all done it, but we shouldn’t have. Lunch isn’t just about the food, but also for taking time away from your desk — that’s why they call it a break.

Your brain needs time to recharge, and it can’t hurt to do some harmless socializing instead of responding to another dozen emails while getting crumbs all over your keyboard.

Next: Doing this will hurt your waistline — and your wallet.

5. Buying the cafeteria food

Cafeterias have lots of tempting, unhealthy food. | Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

If your workplace has a cafeteria, there are a few good reasons you should stay away. It’s much harder to settle on something healthy when there are a dozen tempting not-so-healthy options just a few steps away. Plus, the prices probably aren’t worth the calories.

Next: Eating here could ruin your whole day.

6. Going out to eat every day

Eating at the office

Chinese food might be reliably delicious, but it shouldn’t be a daily meal. | Molchanova

Did you know many restaurants serve meals that contain an entire day’s worth of calories? Eating out every now and then won’t hurt, but making daily trips to local establishments for lunch isn’t good for your blood pressure — or your wallet.

Next: There’s a much cheaper way to eat.

7. Not bringing your own lunch

deli meat turkey sandwich

Making your own lunch makes a real difference. | Rez-art/iStock/Getty Image

One of the best and cheapest ways to eat healthier is to bring your own lunch with you to work. You can pack the previous night’s leftovers or start buying a few extra grocery items each week specifically to make a healthy lunch at home to take with you.

Next: You’re never too busy to stop and do this.

8. Skipping lunch altogether

Cup of tea or coffee spilling over a keyboard

Any way you look at it, coffee instead of lunch is a bad idea. | wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Do you often feel too busy to stop your work to eat? Do you get so caught up in what you’re doing that you sometimes forget?

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but missing lunch could hurt your productivity — and your health — even more. It also makes you more likely to snack on junk food later in the day, a bad habit that’s pretty tough to break.

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