10 Tips for Eating on Shift Work
The effects of shift work on your body are diverse.
Irregular sleeping hours can cause fatigue and tiredness during your waking hours.
It can also cause digestive disorders like IBS.
It can cause weight gain, a higher risk of heart disease, higher risk of diabetes, obesity and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Here are some general guidelines specifically targeted for shift work. Here are a few tips on how to achieve these things. To Start plan plan plan. It Is really important when you’re planning your shopping so plan for your weekly menu, for all your meals, so when you are at home you have everything prepared for when you’re at work. This way you wont impulse eat and give in to the cravings! If you dont buy the sweet things you wont eat the sweet things! Bring your own food as much as possible.
- Invest in a good quality lunch box. Thermos flask for soup and a small board for chopping vegetables or knives and steel line insulated bottle that you can bring lots of healthy water with you. Small mini lunch boxes that seal well for snacks like the sistema brand are great.
- Bring plenty of healthy snacks with you to work. Choose the least processed foods possible. Carry the snacks to work with you during your shifts example oat cakes, dried fruit and nuts, bananas and plenty of fresh cold water.
- Only have light meals during the night or after night shift. Hummus, peanuts or dried fruit is difficult to digest at night so maybe avoid that. Yogurt and berries or toast and banana is suitable for night shift workers. You should eat lightly throughout the shift and have a moderate breakfast. Vitamin B is the feel good vitamin so eat lots of whole grain brown breads, greens, and porridge oats are great. Avoid fatty, heavy, spicy, greasy foods on any late evening or night shift as your body will find it difficult to digest. Soup, fruits, whole grain are super.
- Cut back on highly salted foods and reduce foods that are high in fat and sugar. You can train your palate to reduce salt and sugar and fat. It’s like taking sugar out of your tea. After a while you won’t miss it. It’s not that hard but you need to make the commitment to change for your health. Even in the space of a few days you will stop craving the sugar. Substitute rather than cut out. For example use tomato sauce instead of cream sauce. Remember everything in moderation but you can still have the unhealthy stuff at times but just not all the time! Its 80:20. Try and aim for healthy diet at least five out of seven days of the week.
- Avoid caffeine in coffee and tea but also remember chocolate especially dark chocolate has significant amounts of caffeine if you are going home to sleep in the morning time!
- Avoid alcohol and smoking before going to bed as these are stimulants and may disturb your sleep.
- Don’t forget to eat and drink. When you are working it’s easy to forget to pay attention to the essential fuels that your body needs. At night the stomach digestive processes slow down. If possible take meals at approximately the same time each day, in the early evening after whether you are a night shift or not.
- It pays to keep a regular eating schedule, even if your working hours change from day to day. Try and have breakfast at breakfast time even if you’re just coming out of work. Its light enough to fuel your body, wake up your digestion and some food will settle any excess stomach acid production your stomach. The timing of meals can keep energy levels up, improve sleep and helps the body adjust to the shift work schedule. Have your largest meal after daytime sleep before starting the night shift.
- During meals is a time for digestion. This means sitting upright in a chair eating slowly, not bent over your device or phone. Eat your food chewing well savoring each bite and sensing all the flavors. This is called mindful eating. Especially important at nighttime when digestion slows down.
- If you are working night shift and you are not getting out in the sunshine because you are asleep or you’re working long days and miss the daylight, look at your vitamin D intake as the best source is the sun. Your skin makes the best quality vitamin D in sun. Far better than a supplement. So it is preferable to get outside on a lunch break if the sun is shining. Roll up the sleeves of your top or pants to expose large body parts to the sun. You usually wont need to wear suncream for at least the first half hour of exposure or until your skin feels hot as your skin it will make higher quality vitamin D this way. Sun creams usually inhibit how much vitamin D we absorb. But if you cant get outdoors you can take a supplement of vitamin D like the Better You DLux spray supplement 3000ius. Spray under the tongue once a day this is a high dose of vitamin D and because it is in a spray it bypasses the need for your digestive system to break it down and it is easily absorbed into the bloodstream. It is difficult to get vitamin D from foods although there is some in avonmore super milk, fortified cereals and eggs.
Hope you found that useful. Always at your disposal for advice or quick questions.