Al Desco6 Reasons to Avoid Al Desco Dining. Photo: Martijn van Exel (Flickr)

6 Easy Alternatives to "Al Desco" Dining

Let's face it, traders who spend their days glued to their charts are more likely than most to spend lunch in the same chair they spend breakfast and dinner, too.

And new research has shown that 40% of all workers opt to sit at their desk to continue working instead of taking a break. But it won't come as a surprise to learn that "Al Desco" dining really isn't good for your health.

Those who commissioned the research, Grace Say Aloe, have enlisted the help of top food psychologist, Dr Christy Fergusson (@DrChristyPhD), to put together the reasons why you should avoid eating at your desk, and the best ways to do so...

1. You're more likely to eat more

Eating while you’re distracted by work can be a disaster for your waistline and energy levels. How many times have you mindlessly munched your way through lunch and before you realise it you’re on your last bite? Research has shown that eating while distracted can lead to overeating. One study found that those eating while watching TV ate 36% more pizza and 71% more macaroni and cheese. What’s more, the type of distraction doesn’t matter. So while you're unlikely to watch TV at your desk, chowing down lunch while staring at a screen, scrolling through a spreadsheet or mulling over emails, could be just as detrimental.

How to avoid it:

Switch off the distractions. Step away from your computer screen and put your smartphone back in your bag. Take time to focus on what you’re eating. Taste, savour and enjoy each mouthful. By practicing mindful eating, you will eat less and finish your meal feeling more satisfied.

2. You're missing out on a brain break

Lunchtime is a great opportunity to give yourself a brain break so you can refresh your mind. It can be all too easy to fill your lunchtime catching up on your to do list and getting lost scrolling through social media. Being stuck to your screen all day can leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.

How to avoid it:

Use your lunchtime to step away from the office and break away from your usual routine. Research by Grace Say Aloe found that 66% of participants found a change to their routine exciting. Mix it up and trying something new during lunch. For inspiration, read our 5 Must-Visit Street Food Joints in London’s Trading Hubs...

5 Must-Visit Street Food Joints in London's Trading Hubs

3. You’ll lack variety in your diet

It’s very easy to get stuck in a routine of running to the same café that’s the closest option to your work. But without giving yourself time to properly consider your options, or indeed prepare lunch the day before, it’s inevitable you’ll stress about what to get. The safe decision will be to opt for the same sandwich as yesterday, which can become boring and also limit variety in your diet.

How to avoid it:

Prepare lunch in advance – take in leftovers from yesterday’s dinner which will save you time and money. Or, if you’re pushed for time and the local café is the only option, opt for simple changes. For example, the research found that choosing a water or juice based drink instead of a fizzy soft drink (28%) and opting for fruit instead of sweets/ chocolate as a snack (22%) were the easiest changes for people to make, in order to break from the routine.

4. You'll sit for longer

Nowadays the typical office worker can spend a staggering 15 hours per day sitting. In fact, most of the day is spent sitting - driving, working at a desk, eating dinner or watching television. Walking to and from the office kitchen will likely do little to add extra steps to your day. Research has found that sitting too much is harmful to our long term health and well-being. Spending long periods sitting uses little energy and burns few calories. Agricultural workers, for example, burn up to 1,000 more calories per day than those working desk jobs.

How to avoid it:

Walk, walk and walk some more. While it's important to eat and refuel during our lunch breaks, try and spend most of your time moving. Walk around the block or find a local park to walk through. And if you're feeling a bit more ambitious, there's always our ten-minute Trader Workouts you can try...

Trader Workout: Office Plank Challenge

5. You'll miss out on socialising

Spending lunchtime cooped up in the office can limit the time you have for socialising. This can have a knock on impact on your happiness and productivity. Regular lunch dates with friends are a great way to break up the day, recharge and reduce stress. Taking time away from work at lunch will allow you to come back feeling happier and more focused to start the afternoon.

How to avoid it:

Get organised and arrange to meet friends who work nearby during your lunch break. You’ll be less likely to work through lunch if you are meeting someone.

6. You'll experience a lack of sunshine

Research revealed that 67% of us work the same hours each day. With many people working early mornings and late nights, most office workers inevitably spend their time travelling to and from the office when there is limited sunlight. A lack of sunlight can lead to low levels of vitamin D, which can affect your productivity.

How to avoid it:

Lunchtime can be one of the few opportunities we have to get a dose of sunlight. Make sure you get outdoors and recharge your levels of vitamin D. Sunshine is also an incredible mood booster. It triggers the release of our feel good brain chemical serotonin leaving us feeling happier and more positive.

Do you have any tips on how to avoid Al Desco dining? Let us know on Twitter @_TraderLife_ or tag us in your foodie snaps on Instagram @_TraderLife_