I Tried Eating Lunch Away from My Desk and This Is What Happened

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

I’ve eaten lunch at my desk for as long as I can remember. It’s not that I’m too busy to step away; I’ve simply fallen deep into the habit of eating as I work or scroll through the news online.

I know it’s not the best way to eat — I’m not getting much work done, nor am I enjoying my food as much as I could — but I’ve never been able to break the cycle. Until now. Maybe.

The 3-Day Plan

In my initial bout of excitement I imagined all the things I could do if I actually stepped away from my desk. I could find a lunchtime yoga class, get that haircut I’ve been needing for the past three months, or go for a walk in Central Park! One problem, though — they all skirted the actual eating of lunch.

I realized this task was going to be more difficult than I thought. I pushed it off day after day, week after week, until I couldn’t possibly delay it any longer. Although my original plan had been to eat lunch away from my desk for five days, I decided to try for three.

Here’s what happened when I tried to break with habit and eat lunch away from my desk.

Day One

A good day to get started, since there were no options in the fridge to grab and dart back to my desk with. I did find a tiny bit of leftover succotash. Paired with a fried egg, I thought, it would work just fine.

I heated it up and hunkered down on the stool at the kitchen counter to dig in. To be honest, I felt a little lost at first. I reminded myself I don’t need to do anything else while I eat, just enjoy the food. And almost immediately, I found that being keenly aware of the food on my plate, I did really enjoy it.

When I got back to my desk, I saw Ariel’s piece about Ayurveda and lunch at work. I immediately felt proud of getting out of my office (even if just for a few minutes) and hugely inspired to make a conscious effort for more than my three-day experiment.

Later in the afternoon I realized that my lunch plate wasn’t still teetering on the far edge of my desk, which made me surprisingly happy.

Day Two

Otherwise known as the crash-and-burn day, or procrastination and excuses at their finest. For what it’s worth, I’d like to think I had good intentions going in to the day.

I finished a conference call that butted up next to lunchtime, and the logical move would have been to retreat to the kitchen to make lunch immediately. I know that, but that’s not what I did. Instead, I told myself that I’d just work on this one more thing, and then have lunch. The thing is, though, it’s never just “one more thing.”

Eventually, at around 2 p.m., I decided it was too late to step away for lunch. I quickly slapped together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and nibbled on it as I worked.

Day Three

Seriously disappointed in myself for falling off the wagon yesterday, I vowed this day would be different! I would be double virtuous and go screen-free. Not only would I eat my lunch away from my desk, but I would also leave my iPhone behind.

My fridge was already stocked with soup from recipe testing, so I heated up a bowl of sweet potato chowder and got cozy on my favorite chair in the living room, along with a book that I’ve been wanting to read for ages. Rarely do I get to enjoy the way the midday sun lights up this room, and I loved every second of it. I lingered over my soup, happy to taste it again and reevaluate its flavor profile.

Even though the whole lunch “hour” took just about 10 minutes, it felt much longer. When I returned to my desk, I felt joyful and rejuvenated. And I wondered: Could I keep this up next week?

Do you eat your lunch at your desk or do you take a break from work? Share in the comments!