The health benefits of taking a lunch break.


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We need to take lunch seriously.

When was the last time you took your lunch break? I mean seriously took 30-60 minutes to sit, away from the computer and enjoy a balanced meal? Chances are not recently, as many of us either skip lunch completely, or scoff a sushi roll at our desk or in the car on the way to our next appointment.

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With time our most precious limited resource it is not surprising that many of us prefer to use the time allocated to lunch to get more stuff done. The downside of this is that not eating a nutritious lunch several hours after the first meal of the day can play havoc with our hormones and appetite later in the day, and also impacts our activity levels throughout the day.

So if you are a routine lunch skipper, here are some reasons why taking a lunch break, even a short one will supercharge the rest of your daily.

1. Your nutrition will be on track

Quick, grab as you go lunches of sushi, juices, coffee and wraps tend to be packed full of processed carbs and much lighter on the salad, vegetables and proteins we actually need to be kept full and satisfied all afternoon. It is this nutrient imbalance that can leave us tired, craving sugar and overeating for the remainder of the day.

On the other hand, a hearty 400-500 calorie lunch of leftovers, salad and soup plus a sandwich or a serve of hot food is much more likely to keep you full and satisfied until dinner time, helping to eliminate the need for snacking altogether.

2. You will move more

With the average person walking far less than the recommended minimum of 10,000 steps each day just to avoid weight gain, lunchtime is a key time to move a little and boost over overall daily steps by 3,000-5,000 in just a 20-30 minute stroll around the park, shops or to get out and purchase lunch.

Every little bit adds up and walking after lunch will also aid blood flow and digestion helping to reduce bloating and abdominal discomfort.

3. You will get some much needed Vitamin D

With at least 25% of Aussies with low Vitamin D at this time of year is it any wonder so many of us feel tired and chronically exhausted? Sitting indoors for many hours each day does little to give us the much needed sunlight that helps Vitamin D to be converted into its active form in the body. This means at least 10-20 minutes of sunlight is a daily must include if we are to feel at our best on a daily basis.

4. You take a break from the screen

Most of us are guilty of spending many more hours in front of a screen than we should be, and getting out and away from the desk or computer is one of the few times that we are forced to focus on what is in front of us rather than looking down. Not only is this much better for our body but for our minds, to allow some free thought away from constant stimulus and comparison that our screens offer.

Even better would be to use this time to take in some natural beauty, of the trees, ocean or a garden, as a daily nature break has been shown to improve mood and well-being.

5. You open up some time to get stuff done

It would be a quick trip to the supermarket to pick up dinner or a healthy snack, or to get to the post office to send the items you have been meaning to for weeks but opening up 20-30 minutes of your day to leave the house or office means that you have some extra time to keep the rest of your life on track. Here your body, nutrition and mental well-being all benefit simply by using your lunch break wisely because, let’s be honest, the work will generally wait for you.

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