Eating This at Night Could Make You Worse at Your Job, New Study Says

If you want to grab that brass ring, there's no time like the present to ditch this bad habit.

If you've ever regretted grabbing that extra slice of pizza or ordering dessert, you're not alone. However, it's not just your health that could suffer if you're indulging in less than healthy food too frequently. According to an April 2021 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, individuals who felt they'd eaten poorly the night before work typically performed worse in the workplace the following day.

To determine the effect of unhealthy food on workplace performance, researchers at North Carolina State University studied 97-full time, U.S.-based employees over a 10-day period. During this time, researchers interviewed study subjects three times a day: prior to work, they were asked about their physical and emotional status; after work, they were asked about what had transpired throughout the day; and before bed, they were asked about what they had eaten or drunk during the day. Read on to discover what the researchers discovered, and for some eating habits that might be worth adopting, check out The One Thing You Should Eat Before Bed, Experts Say.

People who felt bad about their food choices were more likely to have physical symptoms.

woman with stomach abdominal pain could be related to liver disease

According to the study's researchers,  individuals who said they'd made poor food choices the night prior to work—including eating or drinking too much or consuming too much junk food—were more likely to have physical issues the following day. The most common physical symptoms associated with these eating habits included headaches, stomachaches, and diarrhea. And for the latest health news delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

People who ate poorly were more likely to experience emotional symptoms, too.

gender neutral person has head in hands while doing homework

It wasn't just physical symptoms that manifested after study subjects engaged in less than ideal eating or drinking habits the night before work. The study's researchers found that individuals who felt bad about their food or drink consumption the night prior to a workday were also more likely to feel guilt or shame the following day, feelings that negatively affected their behavior at work.

Two specific workplace behaviors were most affected by poor food choices.

A young woman wearing a face mask stands inside an office lobby with her arms crossed.

It wasn't just aches and pains that study subjects experienced after an evening spent eating unhealthy food or having too many drinks, however. The study's researchers found that individuals who felt they had eaten poorly or drank too much the evening prior were more likely to be less helpful to others at work and more likely to be withdrawn, including avoiding doing more than the bare minimum for co-workers. And if you want to make sure your eating habits are keeping you on track for success, discover What Happens to Your Body When You Skip Breakfast.

However, one personality type was less affected by poor food choices than others.

Positive mature businessman working on laptop in modern office. Successful african business man working on computer while sitting at desk. Smiling middle aged man working in a corporate.

Not all people were equally affected by the occasional evening of unhealthy eating or drinking habits, however. The study's authors found that people who demonstrated high levels of emotional stability—defined as being well-equipped to weather the effects of stressful situations—were less likely to feel emotional or physical side effects from consuming unhealthy food. Additionally, they were less likely to have their workplace behavior change the day following an evening of poor eating.

"The big takeaway here is that we now know unhealthy eating can have almost immediate effects on workplace performance," explained Seonghee "Sophia" Cho, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University, in a statement. And for more food and drink choices that could be affecting your health, If You're Swallowing Your Medication With This, Stop Immediately.



Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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