Smelly Foods to Avoid When You’re Dining al Desko

We all know the shame of the smelly office lunch. Now, armed with info, you can take precautions by avoiding these pungent foods.


Photo by: tycoon751 ©tycoon751

tycoon751, tycoon751

Anyone who has ever heedlessly heated up last night’s leftover broccoli or tuna casserole in the office microwave knows the shame of the smelly office lunch. Ew! Why, oh, why do so many high-rise office windows not open?

Your co-workers may never forgive or forget, bringing it up at meetings for many months to come and bestowing unflattering nicknames on you. So do you have to resign yourself to a daily greeting of “Hey there, stinky!”? Or is it time to fire up the ol’ resume and dodge the bad rap by getting out of Dodge?

Nothing so drastic may be necessary, as it happens. Because now, armed with info, you can take precautions.

Ambius, an international workplace design firm that helps clients with plants, holiday decor, art and “ambient scenting,” has published the results of a survey of U.K.-based office workers, which found that 55 percent believed colleagues who ate smelly lunches at their desks were “anti-social.” One-third of them said the stench of others’ lunches affected their ability to get their own work done. Respondents also provided a list of aromatic eats that should be avoided at all costs when dining “al desko.”

Tuna Can


Tuna Can

Photo by: Karin Lau

Karin Lau

Tuna Can

Foods to skip include oily fish, smelly cheese, boiled egg, egg sandwich, garlic-laden foods, curry, raw onions, shrimp and other crustaceans, fast food (all kinds?), and tuna sandwiches. On the other hand, office workers can feel free to dig into “pleasant”-smelling foods like buttered toast, fresh pastries, a bacon sandwich and soup — be it chicken or tomato.

Also on the “pleasant”-smell list: a sausage roll, a banana, pizza, fish and chips (it’s the U.K., after all) and … spaghetti Bolognese. Strange.

In some cases, smell isn’t the only thing that will annoy your colleagues: 35 percent of respondents said they found the very sound of their co-workers eating at their desks disturbing. And (we’re not sure if this is good news or not) if it’s the guy on the other side of the cubicle wall who’s super-repulsed by your food smells and noises, you may never know: 45 percent of respondents said they’d never let tell a co-worker they were offended by their lunch, preferring to suffer (sniff!) in silence.

Related Links:

Essentials to Guarantee Not-Sad Desk Lunches

Just-Add-Water Meals

Tips on Toast

Photo: iStock

Next Up

Eid al-Fitr Foods Around the World

From syrupy sweets in the Levant to spicy beef curries in Southeast Asia, learn how the world celebrates the end of Ramadan with delicious foods.

What to Eat If You’re Sick with COVID

A registered dietitian shares how she ate during her quarantine, and shares her advice for others going through the experience.

Avoid These 7 Common Composting Mistakes

So, you started composting at home. Here’s how to do it right.

What to Eat (and Avoid) During Ramadan

We rounded up tips from Muslim home cooks, recipe developers and food bloggers for more seamless fasting.

Think You Hate Peeps? You’re Just Not Eating Them the Right Way

Trust us: These tricks will make you love them.

What to Eat When You're Spiraling

A nutritionist shares tips on how to meet your body's needs when everything feels out of control.

Kellogg’s New Elf on the Shelf Cereal Makes You Feel Like You’re Eating Fresh Snow

The cereal is said to contain a special, cooling "slow-release flavor ingredient."

8 Common Herb Gardening Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Growing herbs is easy, if you avoid these basic blunders. Get advice for growing culinary herbs like basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill and more from herb gardening experts.

What's New