The one thing to add to your day to make sure you don’t overeat at work

Hi lovely reader. This is the second in a three-part series about packing + eating a lunch. 

Three parts? I know. This is real.

If you missed the first post, it's here. 


Okay, let’s say that you packed a lunch you love. You’re super psyched to eat it later.

But I know that for me, and for so many of us, just packing a great lunch alone isn’t enough to stop me from over-eating.

So today I want to offer you one key thing that you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Something that doesn’t have anything to do with food.

You need to make sure you plan at least one pocket of pleasure into your day.

Let’s get real: if we’re bringing a lunch, it’s often a sign that we’re out of the house and busy – at school, at work, or even running errands.

And for many of us lunch is our only break in a long day of busyness. Lunch is our opportunity to relax, to enjoy something tasty and stop having to deal with our to-do list for at least a few minutes.

As a result, lunch morphs into something that has nothing to do with a sandwich at all.

Lunch becomes our salvation.

Our moment of relaxation in our busy day.

Our taste of pleasure.

And look, I’m all for lunch being delicious.

But if lunch is your only pleasure in a busy day, then you are using a sandwich (or a wrap, or leftover chicken pot pie) to substitute for what your soul really needs – which is pleasure, or relaxation, or joy.

I know that sounds mushy, but isn’t it true?

So that’s why you really need to plan your day so that lunch isn’t your only non-work pleasure between 9 am and 5 pm.

Make sure that you plan at least one other 15-minute “pocket of pleasure.” (In other words, a “break”)

When you do this, you make sure that your falafel wrap is not the only joy and fun you’ll have all day.

You let your falafel wrap just be a falafel wrap. Not a complete respite from the grind of your day.

And when you’re not counting on your lunch to be your savior, it’s a lot easier to stop when you’re full. 

But wait. Let’s just pause for a minute here.

Are you thinking to yourself, “Well, that’s nice for you, Katie. But I have a really busy job/school schedule/life, and I couldn’t possibly plan breaks for anything else.”

To that, oh, I wish I could give you a hug.

Because I totally get how you feel. I’ve worked at a top-tier management consulting firm, and my colleagues often didn’t even leave their desks for lunch, much less for a (gasp!) break.

It was really, really scary to me to think about leaving my desk.

I mean, wouldn’t everyone notice and think that I was less committed or less competent?

Wouldn’t someone suddenly need me?

But eventually, I felt so dried up from forcing myself to work all day, and I felt so unhappy from over-eating that I had to ask myself do I want to feel terrible, or do I want to make sure that my day has some pleasure and relaxation in it, some moments that are just for me?

And so I made it work.

Sometimes that meant that I told my manager, “I need a quick break to clear my head so I can focus. “

Sometimes that meant that I just left my desk for 15 minutes and didn’t tell anyone where I was going. (I brought my Blackberry, so I would be find-able).

And you know what, 95% of the time no one even noticed.

And look, you can continue to not take breaks and just power through your whole day. But I found, for myself, that if I was a little gentler with myself, if I prioritized with my breaks, I more than made up for being gone with increased productivity.

15 minutes is all you need. At least once a day.

(Though twice is preferable. Twice gets you bonus points) 

But what do you do with 15 minutes, Katie?

I’m so glad you asked. Everyone will have things that really speak to them, but here are a few of the things that really work for me:

  • Walk around the block or around the parking lot of your office building
  • Call a friend or (let’s be real) my mom
  • Browse a store nearby (I have often had jobs in Manhattan, so there is usually a pretty store nearby. Even just getting some fresh air while walking to the store, touching some pretty fabrics and smelling a scented candle or two [if you happen to, you know, be near an Anthropologie] works WONDERS)
  • Look at a catalog or a magazine (trashy magazines are the best)
  • Read a book
  • Poke my nose in a florist
  • Go on Pinterest/Tumblr/whatever random break that I shouldn’t technically do during my workday.

What do you like to do to reset your brain?

All my love,


p.s. Stay tuned for “how to freaking eat your lunch at work” next week.

p.p.s. Did you know that this blog post was in response to two questions from my readers? If you have any questions you'd like me to answer, leave a comment or send me an email!