Are late-night snacks torpedoing your job performance?
The list of celebrity revelers who partied too hard to make it to their gig the next day is long and legendary. Some, like Rihanna and Justin Timberlake, have mended their ways; others, not so much. But it’s clear, celeb or not, that what you consume the night before can have a profoundly negative impact on work the next day.
Doctors have long known that late-night indulgence in drugs and alcohol can cause serious problems at work, increasing the risk of accidents and missed deadlines. Now there is evidence that late-night unhealthy eating also triggers physical problems, such as headaches, stomachaches and diarrhea, and emotional strains that negatively impact how people behave at work throughout the next day.
That’s the conclusion of a new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
Researchers found that unhealthy late-night eating — specifically junk food and snacks — makes many folks inclined to avoid work-related tasks the next day and to be withdrawn and unhelpful around colleagues. More proof, say the researchers, that both what and when you eat has far-reaching effects on your wellbeing.
“The big takeaway here is that we now know unhealthy eating can have almost immediate effects on workplace performance,” says Seonghee Cho, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology at North Carolina State University.
The solution? To improve your work performance, adopt a plant-based diet, free of red meat, egg yolks, added sugars, fried and ultraprocessed foods, and confine your eating to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., eating 80 percent of your calories before 3 p.m.
The exercise you need in your 20s to enjoy your 40s and beyond
Reese Witherspoon, 44, has done dance, strength training, stretching and yoga for years. She gets up at 5:30 a.m. and hits the gym by 7:30 a.m. “I probably do that six days a week,” she says.
Well, you can’t be as fit and healthy as she is when you’re middle age unless you push it when you’re younger — and then keep it up in your 30s, 40s and 50s. That’s the conclusion of a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
When researchers from the University of California – San Francisco followed approximately 5,000 adults ages 18 to 30 for 30 years, they found that doing the minimum recommended amount of activity — 150 minutes a week — is not enough to dodge midlife high blood pressure, dementia and other chronic conditions. It takes at least 300 minutes, or an hour a day, five days a week, to stay healthy. And we say, more than an hour a day is even better.
That’s why we advocate (for all ages): walking 10,000 steps a day (that takes 90-plus minutes), doing 20-30 minutes of strength-building two to three times weekly and doing sweaty aerobics for at least 30 minutes most days (you can do that with interval walking).
Plus: Don’t sit down for more than an hour at a time. Get up, do jumps, walk up and down stairs; get your blood flowing for at least five minutes. Then, as you reach 40, 50, 60 and beyond, you’ll be able to maintain a rigorous schedule that lets you work and play in top form.
Don’t go breaking your heart
When a 32-year-old Jon Bon Jovi sang, “I am a man on the edge of a broken heart” (1994) and a 49-year-old Al Green asked, “How can you mend a broken heart?” (1995), they nailed the cardiovascular worries that would afflict younger men and women in the next decades.
Several new studies make it clear that the epidemics of chronic inflammation, obesity and diabetes have spread heart woes to young and middle-age American adults. The first, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, finds that heart failure and stroke are an increasing risk for guys ages 40 and younger. This adds to info from a 2019 study in Stroke that found the incidence of strokes in middle-age folks in some U.S. localities had increased dramatically compared to the incidence of strokes in folks 65 and older.
Next, a study in the European Heart Journal, finds that from 2010 to 2018, the death rate from heart disease for American women ages 25 to 34 increased by 2.2 percent (four times the increase in those 55 to 64). And yet one more new study shows that people with heart disease are three times more likely to have diabetes than the general population.
Take heart! Humans’ genes haven’t changed — our lifestyle choices have, and that’s causing the problem. Luckily, those choices are under your control.
For help, check out the heart health info at DoctorOz.com; www.youngwomenshealth.org; my.clevelandclinic.org (search for “Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Health & Prevention”) and Dr. Mike’s new book “The Great Age Reboot” (out in December).
Buddy up at mealtimes for weight loss — and more
Buddy movies don’t always have a happy ending — take Butch and Sundance, Bonnie and Clyde, even Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. But teaming up with a weight-loss buddy to share mealtimes can have great results. It’s proved to help you successfully shed excess pounds and raise your spirits.
■ When two folks who want to lose weight shop, cook and eat together, it makes the challenge of losing weight more fun and less daunting. Tip: Take turns with shopping and cooking, but always agree on the meal beforehand.
■ By sharing weight-loss goals with each other (write them down), then celebrating as you meet them — and admitting when you mess up — you’re more likely to stay on track. Tip: Target a loss of 1 pound a week; more is counterproductive.
■ “Chatting ‘n chowing” should put an end to “zombie” eating (a fork in one hand and a phone in the other). Eating zombie style can make you bolt down food without being aware of how much — or even what — you’re eating. Tip: One study found chewing each bite 50 times significantly reduces the number of calories you eat in a meal.
Bonus: Meal buddies do more than help each other lose weight. For teens, sharing meals boosts self-esteem and school success. For adults, it promotes happiness and satisfaction with life. So make a pact with a friend or family member to share meals as you lose your pandemic pounds. You’ll gain a good time and a younger, longer life.
Quality calories count as much as calorie counting
QI-QO (quality in, quality out) is a management principle that could be effectively applied to nutrition. Unfortunately, a new survey finds that when it comes to food quality, most of you are willing to gobble up nutritionally-disastrous dishes and snacks.
Researchers from Tufts University looked at nutritional data on tens of thousands of Americans ages 5 and older. Turns out that 65 percent of adults’ and 80 percent of kids’ restaurant meals deliver low-quality nutrition. Around 44 percent of the items adults eat from food trucks and at entertainment venues — and 42 percent of kids’ food from those outlets — serve up a nutritional goose egg. At work, more than half of folks’ food is unhealthy.
The result of all that GI-GO (garbage in, garbage out)? At least 42.4 percent of U.S. adults and almost 20 percent of kids have obesity, putting themselves at risk for premature heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and some cancers. So here are some simple tips on how you and your kids can eat more healthfully when you’re out and about.
■ To upgrade meals and snacks from restaurants, food trucks and work, opt for food that’s grilled, steamed or broiled, not fried, and make it plain, not breaded.
■ Choose foods that are a color and shape found in nature (not a glowing orange piece of extruded snack).
■ Enjoy salads with extra virgin olive oil dressings.
■ Pack work-day lunches with a tasty salmon burger or tuna sandwich (olive oil instead of mayo), rice and beans with avocado on a whole wheat tortilla and/or a fruit and veggie smoothie.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.