Working on shifts can often take a toll on your eating habits, sleep patterns and exercise schedule. Rotational shifts can further throw things out of balance. Many shift workers eat unhealthy foods, skip exercise and also have disturbed sleep. This can lead to weight gain and other associated lifestyle related diseases. In addition, the change in timings can upset the body’s natural circadian rhythm which could lead to digestive and hormonal imbalances. This is why maintaining a healthy eating and diet pattern is important, even more so while on a shift.
Here we share some practical tips to help you stay healthy.
Use weekends to shop for healthy foods and all the ingredients for meal prep for the following week. This gives you time and leisure to choose foods that will strengthen and nourish your body. Utilize sometime during the weekend for meal prep, a few hours will go a long way to help you eat healthy for the coming 5-6 days of the week. Most often people reach out for unhealthy foods, since there are no healthy options available. Planning ahead of time helps you avoid this excuse! You can keep masalas/ curry grinds or idli/ dosa batters ready for those rushed days once your work week starts. You also need to plan your snacks well in advance so that you are not eating unhealthy foods like- biscuits, chips and namkeens. Why not bring portioned out nuts/ makhanas/ roasted oats mixture etc? These are much healthier than store bought packaged snacks.
Planning on the weekends makes meal prep easier during the week. Use prepared curry grinds and add in your vegetables or lean cuts of meat. You can also quickly steam up a batch of fluffy idlis from the batter that you have kept ready. Chop vegetables and keep them ready for both sabjis and salads. Cook at home as far as possible. This goes a long way in cutting down on excess calories, salt, sugar and oil. You can even use leftovers the next day to make soups/ sandwiches, rolls etc. Be creative! You can even look up the internet or our page of recipes here- https://1to1help.net/articles/1/Ng== for ways to turn leftovers into innovative recipes!
Space out meals:
Being sedentary and working on shifts also tends to slow metabolism and cause digestive issues. It helps not to eat too much at one time, it places a burden on your digestive system
making it work harder. This could lead to drowsiness later on during your shift and you may tend to reach out for a cup or two of strong coffee to keep you going. Instead, have portion controlled healthy meals along with 2-3 healthy light snacks (under 100 to 150 kcal each) to keep your energy levels balanced.
Cut back on caffeine:
For those who work on shifts and are addicted to caffeine, this may be quite challenging. But it can have a host of benefits. Caffeine is a stimulant and gives you an initial surge in energy. But gulping down too many cups of coffee each day isn’t the ideal thing to do. It can make you feel nervous and jittery and can also temporarily increase your blood pressure. Instead, eat healthy portion-controlled meals and when you feel sleepy, use this as an opportunity to stretch and get in some exercise. These are better ways of keeping focussed. If you feel extra sleepy, wash your face and take a 5-minute break away from your desk. Use this 1–2-minute break to spot jog/ stretch etc. This helps with better circulation and keeps you alert.
Maintain a regular meal schedule:
A lot of people working on shifts tend to skip out on meals, most often on breakfast! Working shifts should not change or hamper your regular meal pattern. You still need to eat 3 meals during the shift. If you need help regulating your meal timings to suit your shift, or if you need healthy meal options, please reach out to us. We are available at: - www.1to1help.net/wellnesscoach
You still need to exercise for at least 45 minutes each day. In addition, while you are at office/ working from home, climb stairs, take short walks during your breaks or even do stretches and squats. This will keep you alert and active as you work. There is no right or wrong time to exercise, schedule a slot for exercise during your day and make full use of it. You do not necessarily need to go to a gym to workout (so no excuses here!). Ask a physio or a fitness trainer for home-based exercises in line with your fitness goals.
Once your shift is over and you have reached home, make sure you get adequate rest. Do not upset your sleep cycle by watching TV, browsing the internet or looking at your phone. The blue light these devices emit can upset the release of melatonin which is released in response to darkness and helps you get to sleep. Make sure your room is dark and avoid any disturbances from friends or family. As with any day shift, your sleep is also equally important!
Environment can affect your willpower, so keep healthy options available. You also need to stay focussed on being healthy! It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and for your health!
References 1. How to Stay In Shape Despite Working Weird Hours | Nerd Fitness. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/how-to-stay-in-shape-despite-working-weird-hours/ 2. Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers - Unlock Food. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Workplace-wellness/Nutrition-Tips-for-Shift-Workers.aspx 3. O'Connell, J. (2018). Shift work: how to stay healthy while working round the clock. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/jun/22/shift-work-how-to-stay-healthy-while-working-round-the-clock 4. Tips for Healthy Eating and Exercising When Working Shifts. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/shift-work/content/tips-healthy-eating-and-exercising-when-working-shift