Happy eating: The link between productivity, mood and food

Employers often try to improve worker productivity, and food may be one way to do so. When people are hungry, their mental acuity may lessen and their blood sugar may drop. While many employees understand the importance of eating throughout the day, too often they either consume unhealthy foods or forget to eat a meal.

Skipping lunch or waiting too long between meals may have drastic effects on worker productivity and mood. According to Business News Daily, research has found employees who eat nutritious foods throughout the day may see their performance increase by 25%. Worker happiness also is linked to daily eating habits. Researchers from Penn State noted worker mood decreases when employees engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.

Eating for improved performance
Business News Daily reported a recent study from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HER), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways found healthy eating is directly linked to lower absenteeism, higher productivity and better work performance. The researchers examined data from annual surveys completed by 20,114 workers at three large companies between 2008 and 2010. Not only were employees who ate consistently throughout their workdays able to improve their performance, but those who consumed at least five servings of fruits and vegetables four times a week had a higher chance of being productive at work. Weight also was found to be closely associated with performance, as overweight employees had higher rates of absenteeism than those with depression or chronic conditions.

“Well-being can also serve as an important business success metric through its demonstrated relationship to employee absence and job performance as measured in multiple large employers,” said Carter Coberly, vice president of health research and outcomes at Healthways, according to Business News Daily.

Enhanced performance and productivity aren’t the only benefits of improved health. According to Penn State researchers, mood also is affected from unhealthy behaviors. The researchers analyzed information from 131 women with unhealthy eating habits and found their moods became negative after they engaged in behaviors such as binge eating or food intake restriction.

While employers may not be able to ensure workers consume nutritious meals and snacks throughout the workday, they may encourage healthy habits through wellness programs and by stocking vending machines and refrigerators with better food options. Providing workers with the opportunity to make good choices may motivate them to eat throughout the day and improve their overall well-being.

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