Nutrition

Unhealthy diet: stress makes us prefer junk food

The influence of emotions on food has been studied for a long time. A short story from Michigan State University (USA) confirms that stress can be the cause of poor nutrition.

Several studies have already looked at the effect of “comfort foods” on a person’s emotions as well as how this effect does or does not alter the consumer’s psychological state. Certain foods, such as chocolate, cookies and junk food, are said to have a soothing effect. But what about stress at work? Can it also determine eating behavior?

Junk food and heavy workload

Some 235 Chinese workers participated in the study. Of these, 125 participants worked in five information technology departments and 110 in a call center. The first 125 participants were under heavy workload and time constraints, while the rest had to deal with demanding and even rude customers every day.

Workplace stressors, sleep quality, negative emotions and workers’ eating habits were examined to better understand them and identify possible links between these elements.

The results indicated that the psychological pressure experienced in the morning at work could define eating habits in the evening. Workers bring their negative feelings home and to the table, resulting in two obvious phenomena:

– Consuming a larger portion of food

– A preference for junk food

This study further confirms that food can serve as a regulator of feelings, particularly with regard to negative feelings.

Sleep to reduce stress

In addition to this finding, an indirect link has been established between sleep patterns and food choices. When a worker had slept well, they were able to manage their stress better and therefore make fewer poor food choices. Researchers indicate that a well-rested person has enough energy to be less influenced by various stressors.

Source

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Liu Y, et al., Eating your feelings? Testing a model of employees’ work-related stressors, sleep quality, and unhealthy eating. App Psychol. doi: 10.1037/apl0000209.

[HighProtein-Foods.com]

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