When you work shifts, you may find it hard to know when and what to eat, so here are 5 nutritional tips for shift workers:
- Eat your main meal early if on a later shift. If possible, eat your main meal before you go to work and have a small meal and healthy snacks during your shift.
Eating large meals at night can cause heartburn, gas or constipation. It can also make you feel sleepy and sluggish.
- Preparation is key. Pack food for meals and snacks that are good quality protein and high fibre choices together.
Since night-shift workers often struggle with feelings of drowsiness, including protein foods like tuna, eggs, lean chicken, roast beef, baked beans, split pea soups, soy nuts, low-fat cheese strings, cottage cheese and peanut butter increase alertness.
Good fibre choices tend to be low glycemic items. High-glycemic carbohydrate foods like bread, potatoes and cereal have a sedating effect.
- Avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods. Foods such as hamburgers, fried chicken and spicy chili may lead to heartburn and indigestion.
- Avoid high-glycemic carbohydrates such as cookies, candies, snack foods, sugary sweets and sweetened beverages.
Too much sugar isn’t good for anyone and it may be even more damaging for night-shift workers.
These foods spike blood sugars, then cause a crash, which hampers alertness and mood.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration because it can help you to stay alert during your shift.
Keep a water bottle nearby and take sips even before you feel thirsty.
Low-fat milk, tea, unsweetened herbal tea and lower sodium 100 per cent vegetable juices are examples of nutritious beverages.
Limit yourself to no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day (the amount of caffeine in about 3 cups of regular coffee) to avoid negative impacts on your sleep and be sure to switch to decaff options at least four hours before bedtime.
Avoid drinking alcohol after work. Even if it makes you feel more relaxed, alcohol can disturb your sleep.
For more information, go online to nutritionmonth.ca.