Hungarians are Wolfing Down Their Workplace Meals: Study

Analysis

Kinga Shenker-Horváth, a dietician at the Hungarian University of Physical Education and Sports Sciences.

The vast majority of Hungarians are aware that the way they eat during the day can significantly improve or worsen performance at work, yet in practice, most tend to forget about this and try to get through their workplace meal as quickly as possible, according to Colorful Bowls Research conducted by Eisberg via Opinio.

Approximately three-quarters of those surveyed in the representative study said they spent half an hour or less on lunch; about one-fifth said it took less than 15 minutes. The research also showed that the majority of Hungarian workers swear by home cooking; most eat food brought from home to get through the day, and many claim they rarely snack during the day.

Eisberg’s Colorful Bowls Survey, conducted for the first time this year to run alongside a new healthy lunch product line, has revealed some surprising trends in how people eat at work or home during the day.

“I was delighted to be involved in the development of Colorful Bowls because, in our fast-paced world, these complex salad bowls contribute to a balanced diet, providing valuable nutrients such as fibers, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and complete proteins, as well as a delicious combination of flavors,” says Kinga Shenker-Horváth, a dietician at the Hungarian University of Physical Education and Sports Sciences and Eisberg brand ambassador. 

“With this in mind, we wanted to investigate how conscious Hungarians are about nutrition and eating at work, how much it matters what they eat, and how much time they spend eating,” the expert explains.

The 15-minute Lunch

For many respondents, it is true that, in their daily rush, they eat lunch as quickly as possible to have more time for work and other activities. According to the research, more than half (53%) of those surveyed spend only 15-30 minutes on their lunch break. Almost a quarter of respondents (21%) spend even less time downing their lunch within 15 minutes. 

The time factor is one thing, but what people have on their lunch plates is also an important consideration. Although the majority of respondents (54%) still prefer an omnivorous diet, many people stick to the filling dishes of Hungarian cuisine (23%), and others follow a special diet, such as vegetarian or vegan.

The survey found that the majority of respondents, at 59%, eat food brought from home. This trend is particularly prevalent among women (65%).

“Home-cooked food is not only cost-effective but can also be a more conscious choice, allowing us to keep a closer eye on what we are eating. This is harder to control when buying food from nearby restaurants, takeaways or the canteen at work,” Shenker-Horváth adds.

The absolute work-defining issue of recent years is the home office. In line with the post-COVID remote working trends, more than half of those surveyed (52%) say that their workplace gives them the opportunity to work from home, meaning they can manage their meals at home during the day.

More Conscious Choices

Sadly, though, just under a third say that this gives them more time and makes them more conscious about what they eat. This means that the rise of the home office has not brought Hungarian workers any closer to healthy, balanced eating, the survey notes.

There are stressful days at work in every workplace. Relieving the pressure leads many Hungarians to snack during the day. However, the responses show that most of us can resist the temptation: nearly half of respondents (45%) said they rarely snack during working hours. Only a fifth of respondents say they often snack. 

Bringing snacks from home and infrequent snacking at work implicitly suggests that most Hungarians are aware that well-chosen snacks have an impact on their energy levels and concentration. The research also specifically asked about the relationship between food and performance: nearly half of respondents, some 45%, said that eating healthily every day improves their overall performance at work.

Shenker-Horváth stresses that making the switch to mindful eating can make a difference to both our physical and mental health.

“Eisberg’s new Colorful Bowls are designed to offer a health-conscious alternative to quick lunches at work. These bowls are not simple salad bowls but complete main meals, containing fresh vegetables, protein sources such as meat, fish, cheese or eggs, and grains (pasta or bulgur). They are tasty, nutritious and provide a balanced nutritional intake for busy days,” the nutritionist adds.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of May 6, 2024.

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