Executive SummaryStress is a common phenomenon in work places. It affects the employees who in turn affect productivity of the company. Stress affects the eating habits of an individual and this leads to poor health. Poor nutrition results in illnesses and can cause depression, such results in abseentism at the workplace and not achieving the company’s objectives.
Eating habits such as binge eating and skipping of meals are stimulated by stress factors. Companies need to come up with strategies to improve the workplace and ensure the employees are not stressed.
Stress is a constraining force on the mental or emotional state of state of an individual disrupting the normal functioning of the body. This report addresses the negative impacts that stress has on eating habits. Stress causes a change in the eating habits by alteration of what one eats this could be by excessive consumption of caffeine, that is, coffee and tea, sugar, fatty foods and salt. Stress influences when one eats and an individual can skip meals. Also, how they eat changes in that they could over eat or take very little food. These bad eating habits exacerbate stress as they lead to poor health which causes stress on the body. An individual’s performance is also affected and this intensifies stress at the work place (Chan, 2012).
Many people globally are affected by poor eating habits and only a few are conscious they are ensnared in the vicious cycle of unhealthy eating and stress levels. They are unaware of the origin of the problem, that is, whether it is chicken or milk. Whether they should eat healthy or try to reduce stress. This is a pervasive problem globally and people’s ability to live fulfilling lives is affected by the mechanism in which they cope with stress and workloads. In working environments this inhibits employees from performing effectively and ensure a company’s growth.
Companies can help in managing employees stress through effective leadership and a supportive culture in the work place. They should allow for open communication to reduce stress and anxiety on performance and their expectations. They can provide working schedules that are flexible on employees and not stringent rules. They should also allow for breaks during working hours and space to relax. More importantly they should support the employees and allow for social activities and team building. Through this, they will be able to reduce stress among the employees and ensure effective performance (Chan, 2012).
Intense stress causes production of cortisol and a change in the glucose levels in the body. Cortisol is important in the body in energy production but when the levels are elevated it causes health problems. Increased cortisol production results in high glucose levels in the body which in turn affects insulin production. Eventually this leads to weight gain, obesity, a weak immune system, gastrointestinal and heart problems, also one can go into depression. Hence, stress management is important for healthy living. (See Appendix A for cortisol)
Productivity is the quality of generating effective results. It is a measure of the output and it entails corporate profitability in increased work capacity and performance. (Tynan, 2010).
Stress is a constraining force on the mental or emotional state of state of an individual disrupting the normal functioning of the body. Binge eating is a disorder characterized by frequent eating of large portions of food (Kolowich, 2015).
This research is done to answer these questions: What is the correlation between eating habits and stress levels at work and to what extent can we optimize? How does eating affects stress? How does stress affect eating? What can be done to minimize the negative effects of a stressful environment?
The preliminary hypothesis of this research is that what, when, and how we eat directly affects our physiological body and influences our cortisol levels – this in turn affects the decisions we make on eating habits. So naturally, eating can either drastically afflict or facilitate a busy work schedule.
Physical work capacity and performance of employees is affected by their health. Poor nutrition is highly correlated with sickness absenteeism, low morale, and higher accident rates at work. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can lead to slower-processing and short attention span and how iron deficiency can impair physical work capacity and performance by up to 30% (Tynan, 2010). Poor eating habits caused by stress causes higher production of cortisol that results in high sugar levels in the body. This causes illnesses whereby employees in a workplace will miss work and their reduce productivity resulting in no growth of the company. (See Appendix A for hypoglycemia)
Appropriate feeding habits and healthy eating improves an individual’s emotion and their psyche in working. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption improves eudemonic well-being (happiness) because of the vital nutrients that promote the production of dopamine – a neurotransmitter important in experiencing motivation, curiosity and engagement (Friedman, 2015)
Stress influences eating habits. Eating behaviors such as binge eating is a reaction to stress. Stress responses can be provoked by social, physical, physiological, chemical, and psychological (emotional) stimuli which affect the direction the of a person’s eating response, be it increased or decreased consumption. Distinguishing the nature of these stressors is essential (Cameron, Maguire, & McCormack, 2011). The workplace if stressful can be physical stimuli to cause stress. Factors such as frustrations, stringent deadlines and aggression stimulate stress. It is important to distinguish these stressors so as to work on them in stress management.
Cognition is a key aspect of increased productivity. Brief overview of biological breakdown and effects on cognition. Foods like pasta, bread and soda release glucose quickly and therefore we experience a short-lived jolt of energy. Foods containing high fat (like burgers) provide a longer, more sustained dose of energy but drain our brain’s oxygen levels and affect our mood (Friedman, 2015). Such food lead to reduced productivity. More so, such poor nutrition affect health that causes stress on the body. Distinguishing different stress stimuli is imperative. For example, psychological stress may provoke binge eating foods with high fat and sugar content, while a different stressor may provoke a feeling of repulsion when seeing the same kind of food (Park, 2013).
The research paper considers and supports the idea that stress can induce behaviors similar of that to subjects with eating disorders. An article that poses a counterargument reveals one study’s findings that low self-esteem, parental criticism (a dimension of perfectionism) and worry were correlated with symptoms of eating disorders, but only during stressful situations. During non-stressful situations, there was a correlation between the symptoms of eating disorders and concern over mistakes (dimension of perfectionism). This suggests that stress can simulate behaviour associated with eating disorders of the personality of the subject is predisposed to such behavior (Sassaroli, & Ruggiero, 2005).
The counterargument states that there may be less of a correlation between stress and eating disorder behaviors in non-stressful situations. However, in the case of my business report, I am analyzing a potentially stressful workplace situation and how to minimize stress. Therefore, in a stressful situation, there is undoubtedly a relationship between stress and the tendency to consume less carefully (which often simulates binge eating or other eating disorders).
The main implications of these research are that stress and eating do not have a one-factor, binary relationship but rather a multi-factored interdependent one that is that both affect each other and in turn each has an effect to the other. Nonetheless, since choosing your diet is easier than choosing your cortisol levels, then a solution clearly begins with understanding healthy eating. My finding are important because they will allow the startup employee’s to optimize their productivity and successfully grow the company with the least friction possible.
It is recommended that an individual creates a guideline for healthier eating. This is by providing meals and snacks at the workplace throughout the day. The foods provided must help in boosting brain activity and the supply of the foods must conform to the dietary plans of the individuals. The recommended foods that reduce stress include leafy vegetables, organic turkey, fermented foods, blueberries, and dark chocolates (Funston, 2015). The meals provided must reflect some level of nutritional balance to assist in stress reduction as well as for nutritional nourishment. To maximize productivity, it is recommended an outline for the best foods and best time to eat to be provided at the work place. To facilitate the process, a joint working co-operation of both a nutritionist and a professional counsellor at the work place will come in handy. The counsellor will be tasked with helping various individuals cope up with stress by offering alternative ways to deal with stress as opposed to engaging in binge eating. Moreover, a forum to discuss how to deal with stressful situations, particularly in terms of healthy decision making for food is crucial. Finally, it is suggested that various in-office activities that will allow employees to interact and discuss the importance of stress management through healthy eating, as well as encourage a well-rounded diet be instituted. The rationale behind the suggestion is that based on various studies, socializing with other individuals tends to tremendously reduce stress in addition to providing individuals with shared coping mechanisms.
Limitations of the Research
The research conducted was neither based on nutritional nor medical expertise and lacks access to information in these fields, the data collected and research done could not be 100% accurate. Furthermore, the physiological and neurological effects of eating and stress is a subject that is still being explored through scientific advancements every day. Therefore, some of the health recommendations could be lacking or underdeveloped.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It is essential in controlling blood sugar levels in the body, regulating metabolism and reducing inflammation. Stress induces increased production of cortisol.
Hypoglycemia is a term that describes low blood glucose. This condition is caused by overproduction of insulin in the body caused by high blood sugar. Hypoglycemia is influenced by frequent skipping of meals.
- Cameron, M., Maguire, R., & McCormack, J. (2011). Stress-Induced Binge Eating: A Behavior Analytic Approach to Assessment and Intervention. Journal of Adult Development, 18(2), 81-84. doi:10.1007/s10804-010-9112-9
- Chan, A. L. (2012, August 12). Healthy Eating, Exercise Linked With Workplace Productivity. The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/12/health-workplace-productivity-eating-nutrition-exercise_n_1752749.html
- Friedman, R. (2015, December 30). What You Eat Affects Your Productivity. HBR. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/10/what-you-eat-affects-your-productivity
- Funston, L. (2015). 12 Foods to eat when you’re totally stressed out. The HuffingtonPost.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/04/food-to-eat-when-stressed_n_7000212.htmlRetrieved from
- Kolowich, L. (2015, June 22). The Productivity Diet: What to Eat to Get More Done in a Day [Infographic]. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/productivity-diet#sm.00001q87t3ryftfdrxnrogbpmfd1f
- Park, A. (2013, September 16). Eat Better and Stress Less: It’ll Make Your Cells (and Maybe You) Live Longer. Healthland time. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://healthland.time.com/2013/09/16/eat-better-and-stress-less-itll-make-your-cells-and-maybe-you-live-longer/