Are you the sort of person who reaches for the nearest chocolate bar or a packet of cookies when the stress at work gets too much? It turns out that you’re not alone. Recent surveys conducted by the Oral Health Foundation have found that as many as 28% of workers are guilty of eating sugary snacks when stress strikes.[i]
Considering that over half of all workers feel stressed in their positions, it’s likely that this is leading to a huge increase in the amount of sugar we are eating whilst on the clock. In turn, this is having negative effects on both our oral and general health.[ii]
Sugar consumption, unsurprisingly, leads to enhanced levels of tooth decay and also an increased chance of obesity, which can lead to other health problems including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.[iii]
So, the real question is, how can you prevent upping your sugar uptake at work? One good route to take is to restrict access to sugary snacks where possible. We all like to nip to the office kitchen and find a box of doughnuts or whatever, but if everyone in the team refrains from buying communal treats it’s a lot easier to resist temptation and avoid using them as a pick-me-up when the stress strikes. You can also replace any snacks you have in your desk drawers with healthier options such as unsalted nuts or fresh fruit – this will stop you reaching into your draws for that sugary hit.
Another option is dealing with the stressful environment in the first place. If you do routinely suffer from stress at work it’s worthwhile thinking about what aspects cause you to feel overwhelmed and see if these can be resolved. Talk to your manager about getting extra help. Try to resolve stressful relationships with your colleagues. Although these changes are easier said than done, making positive steps will benefit you a lot in the long run, and keep those stress-related urges for sugar at bay.
It’s beneficial to look at stress-relief methods outside of work as well. Could you join a yoga class or book yourself a massage? Perhaps you could look at starting an art class or taking up a new hobby that relates to one of your passions? These steps can easily help decrease stress levels and leave you feeling more refreshed and fulfilled.
In the end, work is always going to provide some stress, but that doesn’t mean it should impact your diet. By restricting access to sugary snacks and taking care of your stress levels at work and at home, it’s likely you can lead a healthier lifestyle.
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[i] Oral Health Foundation. Health Charity Calls for Stress-Free Working Environments to End Sugar Binges. Link: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/health-charity-calls-for-stress-free-working-environments-to-end-sugar-binges [Last accessed September 19].
[ii] LinkedIn. Stress at Work Report: Who is Feeling It the Most and How to Combat It. Link: https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/advancing-your-career/stress-at-work-report–who-is-feeling-it-the-most-and-how-to-com [Last accessed September 19].