What Your Fridge Says about Work-Life Fit

eve's fridgeA study released this week in medical journal The Lancet found that employees who worked longer hours have a greater risk of stroke.

This from a story about the findings in Medical News Today:

“Workaholics may be jeopardizing their health after a new study reveals working 55 hours or more per week may lead to 33% greater risk of stroke.”

The article offered a lot of advice for all you workaholics out there to help mitigate the dismal findings, including that you should be “eating and drinking healthfully.”

But are you?

The photo to the left is of my refrigerator today. I was inspired to share this after reading the findings and also after coming across an old National Geographic article at my doctor’s office earlier this week.

The article was titled “By Their Fridges Ye Shall Know Them” and it included photos of the contents of refrigerators for people in a variety of jobs. My favorite was the photo of an overworked bartender’s fridge that was loaded with styrofoam take out boxes.

The contents of our refrigerators are influenced by a host of factors — dinner parties we may be throwing, dietary restrictions from physicians, and of course the size of our paychecks. The saddest fridge photo in the National Geographic piece was that of a street advertiser who made $432 a month and only had a small jar of organic mayo in his fridge and what looks like an empty plastic bag.

But clearly, the demands of our jobs can also influence what we eat, and therefore, what’s in our fridges.

“Appetite can be affected by stress and we can stress binge and stress starve,” said Kenneth Matos, senior director of communications for Families and Work Institute.  “Either we eat mindlessly or as a way to cheer ourselves up when stressed or we can be so consumed with managing a stressful situation we can go without proper meals and hydration.”

And time at an office or factory versus time working from home can be an influencer. “Work from home can also make it easier to keep digging in the fridge and pantry for food,” Matos explained. “Work that limits time at home can prompt increased reliance on fast food and microwave meals that can have health and financial consequences.”

Indeed, research by the Institute has found a decline in the number of employees reporting they feel in tip top shape. This from a the State of Health in the American Workforce report comparing 2008 to 2002:

Less than one third of employees (29%) today say their overall health is “excellent”—a significant decline of 5%.

I’m definitely doing what I can to keep myself and my family healthy but alas, it isn’t always easy.

A friend recently commented that my fridge was “condiment heaven”, and it’s that way because we do make a lot of sandwiches in our house. We’re always on the go, with both me and my husband working out of the state we live in, and two teens on a variety of sports teams. There’s also a lot of vegetables from our garden crowding the shelves lately because we haven’t had the time to make the lavish, fresh garden, dinners we had planned on.

Funny thing is, even though both my husband and me are able to work from home often, we’re still unable to make the lavish meals we dream of during the week. (Sorry Food 52 and Food Channel!)

So, how is what you do, your schedule and work-life fit, influencing what you have in your fridge? We’d love to hear from you and see a photo of the contents. Email me at eve@familiesandwork.org. We’ll be sharing submissions in an upcoming blog, no names, just photos of refrigerator contents and what the owner does for a living.


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