Americans are juggling more work and family responsibilities than ever before, and carving out time to take a full lunch break during an already packed day often falls to the bottom of the priority list. Today, the California Walnut Board & Commission released survey findings that proves this to be true: more than half of Americans don’t think about what they’re going to eat for lunch until they realize they’re hungry*. This lack of routine can often lead to poor lunch time choices, with only 27% of people choosing to eat foods that give them energy to power through the day.
This survey, conducted to better understand the lunchtime habits of Americans, also revealed that perceptions of the midday ritual are shifting as the notion of “work-life-balance” becomes increasingly difficult to navigate for the average office worker. Americans lack routine when it comes to lunch, often haphazardly deciding what to eat last minute, only when they start feeling hungry and energy levels are depleted, leading to unhealthy meal choices. When they do eat, it’s often at their desks in front of screens.
Survey respondents were idealistic, noting that they want their lunch to be a time to recharge and take a mental break from responsibilities. While many may proactively seek healthy food at other points in their day, they often don’t think about how the food they eat at lunch is affecting their mind, body and ultimately, productivity. Additional key findings to note:
- While people are eating lunch during their break, they are often distracted and eating at their desks. In fact, most Americans are checking social media (67%) or the news (59%) during lunch, and most people eat lunch at their desk’s half of the work week on average.
- Convenience often trumps nutrition during the lunch hour and 53 percent of Americans don’t think about what they’re going to eat for lunch until they realize they are hungry.
- When it comes to taking a break, millennials are often the ones skipping lunch the most, with two in three millennials claiming they often skip lunch to “get ahead” at work. However, 60 percent of recently promoted millennials say they take their lunch breaks, meaning it can pay to take a lunch!
- Those who bring their lunches are more likely to eat healthy. Of those who bring their own lunch, 54 percent said they eat fruits and vegetables at lunch, 50% bring a salad and one in four include nuts in lunch meals (with nearly 50% of them being walnuts).
It’s clear that Americans need simple solutions to help them choose lunch daily. California Walnuts partnered with health and fitness expert Jeanette Jenkins to provide Americans with practical tips to take back their lunch break and power up their lunchtime routine. Jenkins’ tips include keeping a positive mindset when it comes to healthy eating, avoid skipping lunch at all costs and meal prepping with ingredients like walnuts to keep you satiated and energized to take on the day.
“Walnuts should be a staple for any lunchtime routine. They pair well with so many different ingredients and offer key nutrients like protein, fiber and ALA omega-3 fatty acids† – essential fats the body needs for brain function, heart health, cell protection and more,” says Jenkins. “You can add walnuts to grain bowls or salads, create a plant-based taco meat or sprinkle them on top of Greek yogurt and fruit for a filling midday snack.”
Not only did this survey show that people are looking for simple meal ideas and solutions, but the data also revealed five different “luncher” archetypes including the “Lover-o-Lunch”, the “Snackaholic”, the “Busy Bee”, the “Mindful Muncher” and the “Last Minute Luncher”.
What is meant to be a revitalizing midday break has become just another hour of screen time, something that already consumes most of the day. It’s time to reclaim your lunch break!