It's no secret that shift workers often experience lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, weight fluctuation and fatigue. It has been found that working against the body clock (or Circadian clock) disrupts the regulation of hormones and digestion, which in turn causes an inability to sleep, fatigue, and increased cravings for comfort foods that are high in processed sugars and fats.
While these are known symptoms of working at the irregular hours that shift work requires, they can actually be managed by monitoring what we are eating.
Food is fuel
Food provides the body with energy to function. Therefore, the quality of foods we eat affects the amount of energy available for our bodies to burn throughout the day.
Foods that are high in fats and processed sugars are often appealing when tired because they provide a quick burst of energy, are comforting and are often easily available.
While these foods are comforting and an easy option for busy shifts, the energy they provide is not long lasting and can actually leave you feeling more fatigued.
Instead, try focusing on whole foods that are high in protein and include whole grains, fruits and vegetables that can give you energy for your entire shift.
Preparing snacks to eat throughout your shift can help you stay on top of your eating habits and ensure you are eating the best foods to fuel your body.
Here are some healthy and quick grab-and-go snack options to take with you on your next shift:
For the time poor
Greek yoghurt & berries
Greek yoghurt is a great source of protein, and the fibre and natural sugars from the berries create a nutritious snack that will keep you full for hours.
Tip: Opt for greek yoghurts with no added sugar like Chobani.
Hummus and veggie sticks
A filling snack packed with fibre from the veggies, and protein and healthy fats from the hummus dips. Switch it up with different veggies, like carrot, cucumber, celery, capsicum and snow peas!
Not all prepackaged foods are unhealthy! These roasted chickpeas and fav-va beans by The Happy Snack Company are a crunchy treat that are packed with protein and fibre, are low in sugar and are gluten, dairy and nut free. They also come in a variety of flavours, so there's an option for everyone!
For the meal prep fanatic
Granola is a great, crunchy snack for the sweet tooth and can contain a good amount of fibre, healthy fats and some protein, but the store-bought varieties can be loaded with extra fats and sugars. By making your own at home, you can pack it full of whole, natural foods that will keep you full for hours. You can even change up the ingredients to to suit your dietary needs or favourite flavours!
Zucchini slice is packed with fibre and is a great way to sneak some veggies into your day. Take it as a snack, or pair it with a salad for a well-rounded meal. It's also freezer-friendly, so can be made ahead and ready when you're in a time-pinch!
Energy Bites and Protein Balls
Feeling like you need a quick hit of something sweet? Energy bites are a great alternative to sugary chocolate bars that are filled with whole ingredients and can be naturally sweetened with fruits! For chocolate lovers, try these chocolate-date truffles, or for a lighter treat try these lemon and coconut bliss balls.
For a little extra protein to keep you going! Store-bought protein balls can be pricey and contain extra ingredients. Make your own at home for a cheaper option that you can customise to your taste.
Love something sweet and hearty on your tea break but know they can be filled with processed sugars and saturated fats that make you feel sluggish later? Why not make your own! This date and walnut loaf is sweetened is packed with fibre, or try this banana bread for a great healthy twist on the classic.
Yep, healthy cookies! These chocolate chip cookies are low in sugar and provide a healthier alternative to your favourite sweet treat