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Chocolate bars and the like: Stress-stricken people increasingly use unhealthy snacks
According to a recent study, professionals who are stressed at work tend to eat sweets more frequently. Now it is to be examined whether technical aids such as smartphones can also contribute to a healthier diet.
Self-control while eating
Numerous scientific studies have already shown that stress reduces our self-control when eating. For example, US scientists recently reported that stress at the workplace often causes workers to resort to fast food. And a recently published study by psychologists from the University of Mannheim showed that people who are stressed at work often snack on sweets in between.
Light diet on a stressful working day
Be it because of the heat or the beach figure - especially in summer, many people consciously opt for a healthy, light diet.
But do working people manage to do without the ice cream in the afternoon and reach for the apple instead, even in stressful everyday work?
A team of Mannheim industrial and organizational psychologists led by Prof. Dr. Sabine Sonnentag in a study that was recently published in the "Journal of Applied Psychology".
Compensate for the bad mood with unhealthy snacks
According to a statement from the university, 247 working people from various organizations were asked about their working conditions and snacking behavior for the study.
The result: The professionals mainly use unhealthy snacks such as ice cream or chocolate bars when they want to compensate for their bad mood. This in turn is often triggered by high work demands and stress at work.
"If you have to pull yourself together hard at work to accomplish your tasks, many people find it more difficult to do without unhealthy snacks," Professor Sonnentag explained.
The craving for sweets then obviously increases. And so people on sweets at work on such days increase.
Healthy eating in the company
On the other hand, the participants preferred fruit and other healthy snacks on days when they wanted to pay special attention to their health.
"Interestingly, the desire for healthy nutrition does not decrease just because you are exposed to high demands," Professor Sonnentag continued.
For example, it seems easier for working people to get healthy snacks even on stressful days if a healthy diet is practiced in the company and promoted by the employer.
How we can eat healthier
Prof. Sabine Sonnentag's team is currently carrying out another study on snacking and physical activity in everyday work.
The researchers are investigating how smartphones and movement trackers can help people to eat healthier in their everyday work.
"We want to check exactly where the hurdles for healthier behavior in everyday work lie and how smart technologies can be used to still be more health-conscious," says Sonnentag.
However, various options are already known to help when the cravings for sweets torture us.
In the event of permanent stress in the job, it often helps to have a clarifying conversation with the boss or colleagues in order to design work processes differently and to be able to work “carefree” in the truest sense of the word. (ad)