Photograph by Kenji Kwok, National Geographic Your Shot
Photograph by Kenji Kwok, National Geographic Your Shot
The Plate

The Benefits of a Lunch Break

In many countries, lunch is the main meal of the day. It’s a chance to take a break from the heat (or cold), recharge our metabolism, and socialize before going back to our routines.

But research shows that many Americans don’t take a regular lunch break. And we know packing it for someone else can be quite stressful (see Is There a Dark Side to Those Adorable Bento Boxes?)

The strains of modern life have led many of us—including food writers —to eat hunched over our keyboards alone, looking at Facebook and picking at a Sad Desk Salad. And that may be the saddest thing of all for our mental and physical health.

“Staying inside, in the same location, is really detrimental to creative thinking,” Kimberly Elsbach, a professor at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management, who studies workplace psychology, recently told NPR.

Getting up and specifically going outside, even for a short break, is critical to helping us complete the tasks of the day, she says. It also may be better for business and our waistlines not to stay put. The best items to help you recharge? Nuts, fish, and plenty of vegetables, health experts say. Look forward to lunch as a chance to take a break, and plan ahead for what to pack to make the effort more stress-free.

So before you dial for that Sad Desk Salad, take a moment to look at these inspiring lunch scenes from around the world. And go take a walk.