Healthy eating at work: How convenience and stress impact daily nutrition
Convenience, taste and work-related stress can significantly impact food choices during the workday.
According to several studies, eating an unhealthy lunch in the workplace is impacted at least in-part by convenience (89 percent), taste preference (90 percent), cost (83 percent), limited availability of healthy foods (85 percent) and the choices of peers and coworkers (60 percent).
Lunch at work can be particularly challenging. When having lunch at work, employees put convenience (60 percent) and taste (54 percent) at the top of their list. Both of these factors rose to the top of reasons why employees make unhealthy lunch choices.
According to a study by the American Heart Association, more than nine in ten employees are interested in improving the healthfulness of their typical workday lunch. By helping people discover new, healthier favourites we see the opportunity to help make the healthier choice the first choice. Although this may not be every day, but frequently enough so that less healthy options start to become more of a special occasion treat.
The daily stresses of work may impact food choices and lead to unhealthy indulgence, according to the findings. The study also found that on a stressful day at work, about one in three employees (35 percent) who typically eat lunch during work say their lunch is less healthy than a typical day.
“Workday stress definitely plays a role in food choices. On a stressful day, employees across the country have a less healthy lunch than they would have had on a typical day. From other research it’s also clear that stress can have many negative consequences on our health and in our lives – from sleep to mood and food,” says Wainfan.
Tackling the issue
The first and most important thing for those looking to adopt a healthier workday lunch routine is to realise that healthy food can be delicious and satisfying, notes Wainfan. The trick to making healthy choices a habit at work and throughout your life is finding healthy choices you love, he says.
“Our research with AHA demonstrated that there is a strong link between healthy habits at work and outside of the workplace. More than 77 percent of US employees indicate that they are more likely to make healthier decisions at other times in their day when they eat a healthy lunch at work,” Wainfan concludes.
By Kristiana Lalou
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