How Work Lunches Change What We Eat

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If the COVID-19 pandemic has kept you at home all this time, you may have fallen into some new habits while feeding yourself at midday. No judgment, however that's shaken out, but no matter what, you might find yourself dreaming of grabbing lunch with a coworker — something that could be reality soon. When it happens, keep an eye on how you choose what to eat; it may not be what you'd have picked otherwise.


Researchers at the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital have just released a study looking into mirroring behaviors amid work colleagues while they're out to lunch. Because we tend to look for ways to fit in, even subconsciously and for loose acquaintances, we may intend to buy a salad or another healthy option on our meal break, but instead somehow we wind up with a burger and fries. This also works in the reverse: Maybe you're trying to impress your work friends, so you get the "Buddha bowl" instead of a sandwich.

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There are lots of reasons to focus on preparing your lunches at home, not least the cost savings to you, but there's plenty of good to be had from treating yourself. We're also notoriously bad about taking lunch breaks at all, as a society, and one way to ensure we follow through is to have a lunch buddy. Don't get too in your head about this study — but if you're curious about your subconscious, keep an eye on what looks good when you're with company.