14 Things Healthy, Happy People Do on Their Lunch Breaks

Updated: Aug. 17, 2023

Don’t just eat a sandwich and chips at your desk—use your lunch hour to get healthy and recharge.


They head outside

After you step foot in the office in the morning, lunchtime might be your only chance to escape your building. As little as two minutes in the fresh air to feel the sun or watch the rain could help your mind and body reset from the pressure of the day. Here’s how walking can boost your mood.


They get away from their desks

Even if you can’t make it outside, escape your desk for at least 15 minutes. Chat with a friend or stroll through the hallways. Your mind will feel more refreshed when you sit down again to get back to work. Here are other effortless ways to be more productive at work.


They brown bag it

Packing your own lunch gives you more control over what you’re eating, and it doesn’t need to take much time or creativity to plan. A pita “pizza,” turkey and veggie wrap, or peanut butter and banana sandwich can make an easy, quick option. Your homemade lunch will probably be cheaper and healthier than whatever you’d normally get from the deli or cafeteria. These healthy salad recipes make lunch fun again.


They make a sandwich plan

To make sure you know your options and don’t get bored of the same ol’ tuna salad every day, write your options in chart form. In the first column, list breads like pita, whole wheat bread, and tortillas. In the second column, write lean protein choices like low-fat cheese, hummus, chicken salad, and turkey breast. Veggie toppings such as cucumber slices, tomato, roasted red peppers, and spinach go in the next column. Finally, list condiments like Italian dressing and low-fat mayo in the last column. Optionally, you can add one more column with nutritious sides like yogurt, soup, baby carrots, and apples. When you’re throwing your lunch together, pick one ingredient from each column for an effortless, healthy meal. For inspiration, try these deliciously healthy sandwich combinations.


They eat out smartly

Don’t reject your coworker’s invitation to eat out just because you’re trying to be healthy. As long as you pick healthy options like a broiled chicken breast sandwich (hold the sauce and keep your own low-fat dressing in the office fridge), steamed or grilled items, fresh fruit, and soup. Also don’t forget to do these 10 things happy people do everyday.


They don’t eat a whole sandwich

One study found that volunteers felt just as satisfied after eating an 8-inch sandwich as after a 12-inch one. Cut calories by asking for just half in the deli line, or save the other half for tomorrow’s lunch.


They daydream

Letting your mind wander can help you tap into the creative juices you’ll need to tackle hard projects. Brainstorm solutions for 15 minutes, or spend that time in la-la land picturing yourself in a stress-free place for instant relaxation. These are proven ways to get better at creative thinking.


They walk through errands

Double up your errands with a bit of power walking. If your office is close enough that you don’t need to drive, head to the drug store or bank on foot for some stress-busting exercise. As a bonus, walking to your lunch spot might empower you to make a healthier choice when you order. Make your walk even healthier with these tricks.


They pack a frozen dinner

“Dinners” aren’t limited to the evening. A frozen entree with fewer than 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 15 grams of sugar, and 800 milligrams of sodium is light enough for a healthy midday meal. Aim to get 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber to keep you full, alert, and energized for the rest of your day. Plus, quickly popping your meal into the microwave will leave you with enough time to go for a walk or run errands after you eat. Try one of these healthy frozen meal options.


They sip soup

Broth-based soups are low-calorie but keep you feeling full. Pick up a carton of a healthy variety you like, such as bean and vegetable, on your next grocery run. Pair your soup with a cup of milk and a cheese stick for a protein- and fiber-packed meal that will keep you going through the end of the day. Don’t forget about your kids.


They take a nap

Escape to your car for a quick snooze (without driving, of course), or arrange yourself at your desk so you get a bit of shut-eye without attracting weird looks from your coworkers. A 10- or 15-minute nap can leave you refreshed and less tense. This is exactly how to take a nap that energizes you.


They eat a healthy breakfast

Common breakfast choices like cereal and white bread are full of sugar, which gives you a quick energy burst but makes you crash soon after. Once your blood sugar drops, you’ll be left craving even more high-calorie, fatty foods by midday. To keep blood sugar steady, pick a breakfast of slow-digesting foods like lean proteins and whole grains, which will keep you full until lunch. Learn more with these common breakfast mistakes.


They have a mini potluck

Get some social support for your healthy efforts by gathering a group of coworkers who are also interested in nutritious food and weight loss. Once a week, have everyone bring in a healthy dish to share, and exchange recipes and fitness tips.


They use healthy foods to boost performance

One Wisconsin high school found that after replacing soda machines with water, energy drinks, and juice, and offering healthier food options, students started concentrating more and behaving better. Making healthier choices could boost your productivity in the office too.