The new study involved 97 full-time workers. For 10 days in a row, they filled out the questionnaires given to them by scientists three times a day. Before work, they answered questions related to physical well-being and psychological state, reporting at the end of the working day on various aspects of work, and indicating what they eat and drink in the evening.
In the context of this study, scientists called unhealthy eating habits eating a large amount of fast food, a feeling of overeating, and frequent nighttime snacks.
Scientists found that people with these eating habits were more likely than people with healthier diets to report feeling unwell in the morning. They could complain of headaches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and often suffered from feelings of guilt over an unhealthy diet.
The described poor health associated with unhealthy eating behavior also had an impact on the working day. Those who reported it less often than others showed helpful behavior, that is, did not seek to interact with colleagues. At the same time, they more often acted according to the standards of avoidant behavior: shunned work, delayed it.
The study found that emotionally stable people (who cope well with stress) experienced less of the effects of unhealthy evening meals. They worked better and helped their colleagues even when they weren’t feeling well.
“The main takeaway from this study is that unhealthy eating habits can have an almost immediate effect on behavior at work,” said Seonghee “Sophia” Cho of North Carolina State University, co-author of the study.
Cho added that healthy eating isn’t just about food composition. The time of its intake, the amount of food eaten, adherence to a suitable regimen are also important.
Scientists believe it makes sense for employers to promote healthy eating and help employees eat well at work. It can improve people’s health and increase their performance.