What a sad little lunch, Leeds: 62 per cent of Leeds office workers stuck in meal deal rut

A new study commissioned by Leeds-based leisure and retail centre, The Light, has revealed the sad state of the city’s office lunch breaks – despite the city being full of delicious and cost-effective dining options for all budgets.

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It’s official; lunchtimes in the working week have become an afterthought, as almost half of the city (40 per cent) admits to feeling dissatisfied with their lunch choice at least once a week, and 36 per cent quoting workplace stress as a significant factor in their midday malaise.

In today’s hybrid-working world, that accounts for an awful lot of office-based time spent dreading the soggy sandwich, limp salad or uninspiring meal deal, hastily thrown-together at home or grabbed in a panic.

Desk Dining Dominates

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Woman eating a breakfast sandwich and drinking coffee while working with a laptopWoman eating a breakfast sandwich and drinking coffee while working with a laptop
Woman eating a breakfast sandwich and drinking coffee while working with a laptop

The research reveals the truth behind the city’s lunchtime habits, which appears to be driven primarily by lack of time (32 per cent). An astounding 53 per cent of Leeds-based office workers admitted to regularly eating lunch at their desks, and not getting any valuable time away from their work environment as a result.

Furthermore, a staggering 57 per cent of office workers take a short lunch (less than 30 minutes) 1-2 times a week. Not only does this mean they’re not taking a break from screen time, but they’re practically inhaling their food when the midday mealtime approaches.

The Impact of Sad Lunches

Although Sad Little Lunches may not seem like a massive issue, there could in fact be some consequences to this, not least when it comes to overall wellbeing, productivity, and stress levels.

A considerable 55 per cent of Leeds is failing to get any fresh air during lunchtimes at least once a week, contributing to a lack of mental rejuvenation. The link between the two is unsurprising, as 61 per cent agree that even just stepping away from desks at lunch improves productivity upon return.

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However, it’s not just productivity that suffers - 33 per cent of office workers agree that having a non-nutritious lunch negatively impacts their physical wellness, often causing headaches – a (literal) pain in the neck most are all-too familiar with.

Peter Butterworth, Dietitian and Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics at Leeds Beckett University, highlights the importance of reclaiming the lunchbreak:

“There are clear benefits to supplementing the body with optimal nutrition at lunchtime, particularly if this is the busiest time of the day. A healthy, balanced lunch is not just important for physical needs, but also to reenergise the brain when hunger pangs increase, and concentration levels reduce.

“It is not just what you eat, but how you do it, too! A proper workstation break, to engage in a social catch-up with colleagues is like a reboot for the brain to help tackle the second half of the day!”

The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

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The Light is encouraging the office workers of Leeds to turn their frowns upside down on the sad lunch trend and break free from the shackles of desk dining.

Stephanie James, Marketing Manager at The Light, is passionate about curbing the sad little lunch trend:

“Your lunch break is more than just a meal; it's an opportunity to recharge and rejuvenate. At The Light, we understand the challenges faced by office workers in Leeds, where lines between work and play have become blurred in recent years.

“We're committed to providing a lunchtime haven that considers the needs of the body and the mind. We’re excited to see faces old and new enjoying our lunchtime treats at Tamatanga, Fleur and Nando's to name just a few!"

For more information, keep your eyes on our social media channels: Instagram, Facebook or TikTok.

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