The concept of comfort eating is nothing new, but the term is likely to conjure up an image of someone who's just had their heart broken, sobbing into a tub of ice cream. But what about smart business people dealing with stress at work? According to a new study, they are just as likely to eat away their problems.
'We all experience stressful, busy days, but missing meals altogether to save time is a false economy'
A British survey by Gaviscon found those who've had a bad day at work are more likely to tuck into junk at lunch, while those with a positive outlook in the office more often grab low-calorie options like salads.
In fact, 77 per cent of the 2,000 UK workers asked said their mood "definitely" impacted what they ate for lunch. Nearly half said a happy mood meant healthy lunches and 54 per cent admitted a rubbish day meant they were more likely to switch the carrots for a curry.
Dealing with stress at work appeared to be the most popular excuse for comfort eating, with 72 per cent confessing they do it.
"We all experience stressful, busy days, but missing meals altogether to save time is a false economy, as is rushing your food at your desk, or substituting a meal for a bar of chocolate or copious amounts of strong coffee," Dietitian Azmina Govindji warned MailOnline.
According to the survey, four meals a week are selected according to mood. And it was also found the average worker eats junk at their desk 38 times in a year, with 45 per cent adding that the worse they felt, the lardier their lunch would be.
Not only do upset workers eat badly, they also eat quickly. The average time taken to consume lunch was a speedy six minutes, which can cause some serious digestion issues, with 47 per cent saying they rushed eating on a busy or stressful day.
"It's important to take some time out to savour your food, instead of devouring a sandwich in five minutes so you can get back to work," Azmina continued. "These habits can make you more prone to problems such as heartburn or indigestion, which could leave you feeling uncomfortable in the afternoon.
"Both heartburn and indigestion tend to be more common when we over-indulge on rich fatty food, have irregular eating habits and are more stressed."
It's not all bad news - 45 per cent said their average weekday lunch was "quite fresh". However, 30 per cent described their average lunch as "fatty and greasy".
If the health implications aren't enough to put you off, this could be: the typical worker spends almost £222 a year on junk food. And it could affect your family, too, with 41 per cent encouraging loved ones to tuck into an unhealthy dinner after a bad day.
On the other hand, 14 per cent of people completely skipped lunch on a typical bad day.
To combat this, pre-prepare your lunches rather than relying on shop-bought meals. This means you'll be more likely to reach for what's already in the fridge. And try to eat away from your desk while reading a book or doing something else that's not work related.
© Cover Media