Nutrition for Shift Workers

 Long hours in a vehicle, assembly line factories or secluded work sites can make it difficult to make healthy foods choices. Shift workers often have to work both day and night shifts which can throw off natural body rhythms.
  If you find that your job stands in your way of being healthy here are some suggestions to boost your nutrition daily.
Home Base 
Before you leave for work make it a point to have your most nutritious meal of the day.  Include protein, essential fats and a good quality carbohydrate. This fuel will kick-start your energy and also give you the emotional satisfaction that you are beginning your day in a healthy way.
Food prep is very important. Reliance on fast food is not going to work for long-term health. Get into the habit of prepping the day before will never leave you guessing what you will eat for lunch or dinner.

Bring snack foods that pack the biggest nutrient punch. Nuts, seeds, nut & seed butters, vegetables, avocado, salads, fruit, lean whole grain crackers, rice cakes, good quality protein shakes. Think of food in terms of fuel.  Take advantage of your breaks and fuel up your body.

Working out of your vehicle makes it extra challenging to eat healthy on a daily basis. Make use of a portable cooler. There are many styles these days, some that plug into your car others that even look like a large handbag. Some ideas to keep in your cooler are veggies and hummus, yogurt with hemp seeds, salad with lean protein and hard boiled eggs. Don’t be afraid to pull out that thermos that is sitting in the back of your cupboard. Homemade soups and stews are a great option and will stay warm for hours. If we rely on the diners “special of the day” we lose control of maintaining the healthy balance that our body needs.

Take a few minutes to source out the best food options in your work area. Some fast food chains will sauté their ingredients in water (The Teriyaki Experience); some grocery stores offer a salad bar or hot table with healthy options (Longos, Loblaws). Opt for green leafy vegetables, lean protein and fresh fruit. Avoid salads that are drenched in mayo, unhealthy oils and fried foods. Ask for the ingredient list if you are unsure. Understanding what you are putting in your body is fundamental in being in control of your health.
 Breaks are Sporadic
Health Care Workers, Emergency Response Workers (Police Firefighters, Paramedics) are often not able to eat or drink for hours at a time. It is even more crucial for individuals in these professions to ensure that when they have the opportunity to eat they are reaching for good quality fuel. Often these workers get caught in the negative eating cycle: Worker is hungry but cannot eat —> feels fatigue—> grabs a coffee because it provides a quick burst of energy and suppresses appetite —> worker realizes that she/he hasn’t eaten for over 6 hours and is now starving and grabs the quickest thing in sight —>fast food (burger and fries) —->packaged food (chips, cookies, high-sugar granola bar) —> FULL & BLOATED. This cycle causes weight gain, mood disturbances, fatigue, a taxed immune system and further health problems. Not to mention less productivity at work.

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