Night Shift

Night shift.  Call it what you like – moonies, graveyards, or dogwatch; the bottom line is that often shift workers have similar complaints including lack of sleep; increased risk of mental health & cardiovascular issues; as well as digestive complaints.  It is the disruption of your metabolism & circadian rhythms causing your body grief.

Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash

I get it – it is a vicious cycle – where you are tired, so you pick up the easy stuff.  I’m talking about the highly processed foods which in turn prompt weight gain, subsequently leading to an increased level of inflammation & your body lacking nutrients.  It is a perpetuating cycle, but the right food choices can help your body to function better & reduce fatigue.

Here are some food ideas for try.

Seriously, it is time to make friends with your freezer & slow cooker.  Honestly, no one is always in the mood to cook & when you factor in tired, stressed & time poor….well, it just ain’t gonna happen!  Try some batch cooking, freeze the leftovers for future you.

Soup

Big fan of these as they can be packed with vegetables.  Plus, it is generally easier to absorb the nutrients which creates a lesser burden on the digestive system.  It is also a great warm up when the temp drops in the early mornings (yup, it definitely happens).

Slow cooker casseroles/stews

Another great option! As the food is partially broken down already due to the cooking process which is turn makes it easier on the digestive system.  Always add in some extra vegies as traditionally slow cooker recipes are meat rich.

BYO Snacks

These can be a lifesaver & keep you on track (yup that is code for ‘away from vending machines’).  Protein rich snacks will help to keep you alert & able to concentrate.  Great options include veggie sticks with hummus or tzatziki, yoghurt or cheese, fruit with nut butter (I love apples & almond butter), a trail mix or mixed nuts, even a hardboiled egg.

OK, so what types of foods & nutrients should you be looking for?

Low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods

Choosing low GI options are beneficial to everybody as they are absorbed slowly, which means you will not get a spike in blood sugars.  Some options for this would be vege soups, seeds & nuts, yoghurts. BTW this is a great tip for everyone, not just the shifties.

Hydrating foods

This is a big cause of fatigue (apart from the obvious – lack of sleep).  Choose water-based foods THINK watermelon or strawberries for sweet snack; or alternatively cucumbers or zucchini will work in a more savoury flavour.  Drink a lot of water it will help you stay awake, keeps your feeling fuller, prevents dehydration & keeps everything moving in your digestive system (so less chance of constipation).

Fats & proteins

Honestly, these are important in any daily diet, why?  They help you feel fuller for longer which in turn means less cravings.  Great options can include cheese on wholegrain crackers, a boiled egg, avocado, a handful nuts, hemp seeds in a smoothie or on some vegies, even eggs to name just a few. 

The flip side is foods which you should avoid.

Refined & processed foods.

OK, not really a big surprise here but avoid sugar rich foods such as soft drinks, commercial cakes & bikkies, lollies & chips.  Essentially, anything you can pick up at a servo is not a great option.  These generally are highly processed which is why they have a longer shelf life, which in turn means they are easily stocked for convenience.  It makes economic sense for the shop keepers but for you it means your blood sugar levels will be impacted as well as making you feel sluggish & contributing to the weight gain.  Your digestion process slows at night, so it can also cause unpleasant issues like heartburn, indigestion, gas & constipation.

Stimulants

Caffeine at the beginning of a shift can help with wakefulness but it’s a no to coffee & energy drinks at least 6 hours prior to sleep.

Timing those meals

“Main meal”

Eat your main meal before your shift, as this is what will keep you fuelled up for the next 12ish hours.  If you are on night shift try to aim between 5-6pm, then have your additional meal (a smaller meal) & snack breaks throughout the night.  A big meal eaten overnight could upset your tummy as your digestion is slowed.

“Breakfast”

Sleeping well after night shift can be hard, it is a fine balance between feeling too full or too hungry.  Try eating a smaller sized breakfast.

Eating nutrient dense foods is key, they will have a big impact on how your body works.  It is an easy cycle to get caught in as you grab something to keep yourself awake (like a coffee); or you need a snack (vending machine); or you are too tired to make something for your break (grab a pie from the bakery). 

Hopefully there are some ideas in here to make the lives of my “shifty” friends easier.

#ShiftiesOrMoonies #HealthySwaps #BatchCooking #Lifestyle #EatWell #LiveWell #HappyHealthyLife #ConsciouslyNutritious

Published by Shân

I am incredibly passionate about food and its healing power – it is pretty amazing how what you eat affects how your body works! In fact, I was so fascinated, I went & got myself a degree in it – a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine). Now in all honesty I don’t eat or live a perfect lifestyle, nor will I ever pretend I do. Realistically I know you won’t be perfect either. And that’s OK. As a Clinical Nutritionist I focus on what we eat and how this has an impact on our health and wellness – everyday.

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