Eating Right on Shift Work

You’ve hit your third or fourth nightshift and energy levels are low. You’ve been relying on lollies, coffee or energy drinks throughout the night to keep you awake. Dayshift rolls around and you were too tired to get up early and have breakfast, so you stop into the servo on the way for a quick bacon and egg roll with Dare Ice Coffee to go. Anything sound familiar?

This cycle of eating can lead to lower energy levels, poor immune system and weight gain. The constant sugar hits and processed foods can start to take its toll on your blood sugar levels and cholesterol, not to mention your waistline. So, what’s the answer and how do you break the cycle?

Eat Right

Build sustainable new habits, don’t go on a diet
Start with just one new habit, for example eating a healthy breakfast each day. Try and keep it simple and achievable, don’t overcomplicate it or aim for perfection as this can lead to giving up. Other new habits could be to take healthy snacks such as fruit, yoghurt, nuts and wholegrain crackers, rather than raiding the vending machine all day/

Try to reduce added sugars and saturated fats

Sugary drinks are just empty calories that provide little more than a brief energy burst, but are generally followed by a slump, leaving you looking for your next sugar hit.
Saturated fats found in biscuits, cake, butter, chips, pastries, chocolate and processed meats are linked to high cholesterol levels, are high in calories and contain little nutrition.

Do some meal prep

Spending some time on your day off to cook a batch of meals or cooking extra for dinner can help take the pressure off the busy long workdays. Stir-fries, stews, baked dinners and veggie-packed curries all freeze well and can be super quick and easy to take for lunches.

Choose high-protein snacks for nightshift

Snacks high in protein help keep you alert and energised for longer. Try things like unsalted nuts (just a handful), Greek yoghurt, tins of tuna or salmon, boiled eggs, wholegrain crackers with cheese or small tins of baked beans.

Mind your portions

If you’re watching your weight, a good rule of thumb is the “quarter, quarter, half” rule. A quarter of the plate for lean protein, like fish, eggs, chicken or beef, a quarter of the plate for a carbohydrate like sweet potato, brown rice or pasta, and half the plate for the other colourful salad or veggies. This keeps your calories down, provides plenty of fibre fullness and helps you get your 5 serves of veg a day for good health.

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