Are you burning the midnight oil, working around the clock and not taking proper nutritional breaks? Do you work odd shifts? Maybe you work nights for a few weeks, then switch to afternoons and sometimes days. Do you know the toll these crazy hours are having on your body? It’s not always possible to find a new job so here Penny has put together a few nutritional tips to help keep you as healthy as possible while working long hours and tough shifts.
Nutrition tips for Shift Workers
By: Penny DeJager
3 in 10 Canadians work shift work. This type of work can have implications for a person’s overall health and nutrition. It is already hard to manage health, productivity and weight with today’s demanding work and family life commitments, but you throw in shift work, the challenges can become even greater. Some common shift work professionals affected are those working in production, transportation, managerial/professional executives, teachers, healthcare support, protective support like police and fire fighters and healthcare services like physicians and nurses.
Shift workers have been shown to:
Have a higher risk of sleep disturbances, obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Have more digestive issues like metabolism, nausea, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea.
Struggle with depression, stress and relationship issues.
Have higher risk of drug and alcohol addictions and safety issues such as accidents and injury.
Suffer more fatigue, poor concentration and reduced productivity.
Have disrupted hormone activity and poor overall immunity.
In summary, the reasons shift work could negatively affect your health are two-fold; It can influence our biology by disrupting our circadian rhythm and it can impact our lifestyle habits like meal times, grocery shopping, meal preparation, family time and physical activity.
Practical tips and strategies that will help with better nutrition during shift work
Plan an eating schedule for your shifts so that you are consistently eating through-out the shift. I.e. 3-6 times per shift, smaller snacks and meals. Don’t skip meals!
Ensure your meals provide both complex carbohydrates and protein to maintain satiety and fullness. This helps to keep blood sugars balanced during your shift.
Avoid eating high-fat or spicy foods to reduce indigestion and heartburn issues.
Skip sweet snacks as they will affect your blood sugars making you feel sluggish then hungry sooner. Try nuts with fruit, hummus with veggies or yogurt with berries as healthier snack options.
Cut down on caffeine and drink more water during your shift. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep, make you feel anxious and upset your stomach. Herbal teas are a good alternative. Drinking plenty of filtered pure water will help prevent dehydration and keep you more alert. It is a good idea to have a reusable water bottle close to you at work.
Make sure you get support with your emotional health if you are struggling with the shift work. It can be stressful both physically and mentally. Most work places have access to a psychologist or counselor if needed.
Try to incorporate regular exercise into your weekly routine and allow for stretch breaks at work to avoid sitting too long. This will benefit your overall health along with your better nutrition choices.
Want to get even healthier? Are you experiencing health symptoms due to your job? Are you concerned about supporting your health because of your shift work? Curious about how health coaching can help you make your own healthy changes? Let’s talk! Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about! Visit www.noshoesnutrition.com and sign up for a FREE consultation. I work with people from all over the world individually or in groups so don’t let anything hold you back!