How to use your lunch break to recharge your afternoon

A lunch break has become another extension of our overburdened day. We spend midday running errands or returning personal phone calls. Yet this hour offers the perfect time to break this hectic cycle. Consider this advice.

How to use your lunch break to recharge your afternoon

Go outside

Soak up the sun, watch the rain, feel the wind. Breathe some real air and disconnect from the job. At least once each day you should step outside, if only for two minutes. It will recharge your body and mind.

Take a nap

Studies increasingly show the value of short naps during the day, and progressive employers are becoming more lenient about them. Curl up under your desk, nod off in your (parked) car or otherwise snooze where no one will notice. It will refresh your mind and give you a whole new perspective on the afternoon.

Go heavy on fresh produce

Include a source of lean protein, fruit or vegetables — raw carrots, celery, broccoli or cauliflower florets — with a bit of low-fat salad dressing and whole grains rather than processed. Leftovers from last night's dinner are also good.

Pack soup

Healthy soups are now sold in microwaveable cartons. A bean and vegetable soup, a piece of rye bread with low-fat soft cheese and a carton of juice gives you all the protein and fibre you need to power your body and brain through the afternoon.

Get away from your desk

No matter how pressing that big project is, physically remove yourself from your office for at least 15 minutes. Walk the corridors, chat with a friend or go outside. It will refresh your mind, allowing you to return to work more invigorated.

Make better menu choices

If you have arranged a business lunch in a restaurant with friends or colleagues, try to be the first to order. Studies show that we're often swayed by other people's choices, so pick your healthy options first.

Beware meal deals

When buying lunch, especially from fast-food restaurants, don't be tempted by any deal unless it offers options. Otherwise you may end up eating more than you actually want.

Eat a healthy breakfast

Breakfast composed of pastries, white bread or sugary cereals leave you craving fatty, high-calorie foods at lunch. Eat whole grains and lean proteins for breakfast that are digested slowly and leave you feeling fuller longer.

Walk to the sandwich bar

If you must eat out, walk to your destination. You'll burn extra calories and refresh your mind at the same time. The short walk may also give you the will power you need to order more healthily.

Exercise as you run errands

If you need to run errands during lunch break, get some exercise, too. Power walk to the bank, shops or post office. The exercise will help to refresh your mind and reduce the stress of the day.

Start a healthy lunch group

Eat with other colleagues who are interested in weight control, health and nutrition. Share foods for taste-testing, exchange tips and recipes and once a week ask each member to bring in one healthy contribution to a meal.

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