Is Eating the Same Healthy Office Lunch – Every Single Day – Actually Good for You?

Posted by on Monday, July 21st, 2014 with 6 Comments

Sticking to healthy diet can be challenging — especially when it comes to the office lunch. Group takeout orders, catered breakfast meetings, pizza Fridays… there are seemingly endless temptations to stray from a diet plan during the course of a typical workday.

One solution that many office workers swear by? Eating the same healthy office lunch. Every single day.

sandwich and salad at desk for a healthy office lunch

Does having the same lunch every day lead to healthy eating burnout?
Image source: Flickr user slushpup

It may sound crazy to those of us who love trying new cuisines (Korean takeout, anyone?) or chatting over a spread of tapas-style appetizers with our coworkers: finding a favorite salad or turkey sandwich, and making that your office lunch every day. But to people who have a hard time saying no to a second slice, or won’t be able to pass up adding cheese and sour cream to a burrito, sticking to a tried-and-true lunch makes things easier. After all, if you don’t allow yourself any choices, you won’t make the wrong one.

Another advantage? Convenience. Huffington Post editor Lori Fradkin wrote an entire column about how refreshing it is to walk into “her deli” every day, and not have to look up from her email because the employees know how to make her daily salad order (Romaine, chicken, walnuts, bleu cheese, dried cranberries, and chickpeas) without needing a word of instruction.

Many of us have the same comfortable routine with the baristas at our regular coffee shop — is it really that different at the deli?

Nutritionists tend to think so. This specific question — is it OK to eat the same lunch every day, as long as it’s a healthy one? — is not uncommon in the Q&A sections of many magazines and health blogs. And across the board, the response is some variation of: while eating the same healthy lunch is better than eating different kinds of junk food, there’s a very wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs… and as Dr. Nieca Goldberg tells Women’s Health readers“It’s pretty much impossible to consume all of them without eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.” 

And as Fradkin, the Huffington Post editor, described in her column, part of the reason she ate the same salad every day was that “I have a job for which a lunch hour is nonexistent. I eat at my desk and read blogs and drop little bits of food into my keyboard. My goal for those ten or fifteen minutes is to eat something that’s quick, filling, and relatively healthy.”

While that “I don’t really take a lunch break anyway” factor might make sense — and be an all-too-familiar scenario for many of us — it’s an incredibly unhealthy habit. Taking a real lunch break and getting away from your desk is one of the best ways to boost creativity and reduce stress. When we simply sit and shovel the same food into our mouths at our desks — even when it’s healthy food — we’re missing out on the “real break” part of the equation. 

This relates to another potential pitfall of eating the same lunch day in and day out: you stand almost zero chance of engaging mindfully with your food. Research has shown that when we pay attention and become really engaged with what we eat, we enjoy our food more — and eat less of it. That’s naturally harder to do when you’re eating the same thing over and over again, with no unfamiliar flavors, textures, or nuances to engage your senses in a new way.

At the end of the day (or the lunch break), if eating the same healthy office lunch is the only way you can meet your dietary goals, then it might be what works for you. But if it keeps you tethered to your computer instead of socializing with your coworkers or recharging your mental battery – or prevents you from getting the wide variety of nutrients you need – then it might be time to switch up your meal plan!

There are plenty of perfectly healthy office lunch options available that you can adopt as your go-to takeout orders — find your new favorite sushi roll, a better slice of pizza, even a less-indulgent Indian lunch — without depriving yourself of variety every day. And there’s no better way to order up a wide range of office lunches than by getting to know the options available at! With online ordering and prompt delivery, you’ll have more time to do what lunch breaks are really meant for: relaxing, recharging, and eating something delicious!


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6 responses to “Is Eating the Same Healthy Office Lunch – Every Single Day – Actually Good for You?”

  1. Monica says:

    I believe (and practice that) eating the same healthy lunch each day is a good thing. It saves me time and I enjoy it. I use my dinner as a way to be more creative and bring in any of the nutrition that I may not get from breakfast and lunch. I eat a hard boiled egg, toast with nutella spread, and several servings of fruit. Figure out what works for you and stick with it.

    • Sara says:

      Monica, it’s definitely true that it works for you and you can stick with it, then it works! I alternate between two breakfasts: toast with almond butter and an apple, or Greek yogurt with fruit. (OK, and a bagel on the weekends!) I think as long as the rest of your diet is balanced and contains lean protein and vegetables, it’s a good plan 🙂

  2. Lynn says:

    It is good to know that eating the same meals over and over really is not that healthy no matter what that meal contains. I think the repeat meal process is an escape for one less thing to think about. However having 5- 10 meals on rotation is really not the hard to keep track of. It just comes down to a bit of additional effort up front.

    • Sara says:

      Lynn, I think you’re right – even just rotating through different healthy meals can help keep you from “burning out” on eating healthy… without giving you too much more to do every day.

  3. Kirk Davis says:

    I mostly eat the same lunch every day with some slight variations. I do a big mix and match salad. I can change the flavors and ingredients enough to not feel like I am in a rut. Even with day to day changes it is a consistently healthy meal.

    • Sara says:

      Kirk, that’s a fantastic strategy to stick to a healthy routine: take a solid base (salad) and change up the little ingredients and flavors. Nicely done!