An article in our daily newspaper today has suggested that many of us have developed unhealthy habits when it comes to lunchtime. In particular, citing a study from the United Kingdom, 60% of the 1000 employees surveyed were eating their lunch at their desks.
The article went on to warn the readers that, not only does this habit mean that they were working the equivalent of 16 extra unpaid days a year (o, the horror) but that it could very likely be damaging their health. As another recent study shows (hands up the researchers who are obsessed with lunch) those who stay at their desks to eat are more likely to develop a deadly blood clot in their leg veins…
You have been warned.
Alongside the fiscal and vascular benefits I would suggest that, more importantly, there is a simple but profound pleasure to be found in pausing in the middle of the day to eat. I guess we’ve all heard the statistics proving that taking breaks make us more productive. But even if it didn’t, I think it’s worth considering the unique way that humans were designed to experience food.
It’s a glorious thing that food for us is not just an energy source. Mealtimes were never meant to be about inputting fuel as quickly and efficiently as possible – like refilling a car or even re-grazing an animal. Instead, implicit in the range of foods that we get to enjoy, there is an invitation to pause and to savour the culinary delights on offer…and if possible, to do it with others.
Those culinary delights might seem a long way away as you stare into your bowl of 2-minute noodles at lunchtime tomorrow. But I think it is worth asking yourself whether there is room to stop and savour the joys of your midday meal a little more.
Or at the very least, do it for your leg veins.
NB. On the second Tuesday in September (11th) I will be starting a five-week course for St Paul’s on the Spiritual Disciplines. While stopping for lunch isn’t on the list of traditional disciplines…it certainly does fit with some of their aims of intentionality and re-rhythm-ing. The course is open to all Compass alumni and friends, so check out the St Paul’s site here for more info.