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Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers

March 13, 2017

As you may be aware, March is Nutrition Month. Here at HPHA, we have a dedicated group of Clinical Nutrition and Nutrition & Food Services staff that work hard every day to not only provide our patients, but staff and visitors, with healthy, delicious meals.

Our team is comprised of a Director, Supervisors, Registered Dietitians, Red Seal Chefs and Nutrition Assistants that bring a rich and diverse skill set to our group of 51 staff members across the Alliance.

Nutrition Tips for Shift Workers!

  1. Eat your “main meal” before going to work. If you are on the afternoon shift have your main meal at mid-day around noon. If you are on the evening shift, eat your main meal at about 6:00 pm before you go to work. Have a small meal and healthy snacks during your shift.  Eating large meals during the night can cause heartburn, gas, or constipation. It can also make you feel sleepy and sluggish. Be careful not to overeat on the job.
  2. Choose healthy snacks. Plan ahead and pick a variety of snacks from the four food groups. Examples of good snacks are an apple with a small piece of low fat cheese or a handful of nuts with low fat yogurt.
  3. Avoid fatty, fried or spicy foods. Foods such as hamburgers, fried chicken and spicy chili may lead to heartburn and indigestion. Eating too much fat can also increase your risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
  4. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. You may feel a quick boost of energy after having a chocolate bar or sugary soft drink. This feeling doesn't last long and you may experience low energy levels later on. Enjoy nutritious snacks and beverages instead to stay alert and keep your energy up.
  5. Take your time eating. Don't rush when you eat. You deserve your break, so enjoy every single bite of your meals and snack! If possible, eat with your co-workers for some company.
  6. Stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. It may help you to stay alert and not feel so tired during your shift.
  7. Watch the caffeine. Drinking coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages can help you stay alert. But don't consume more than 400 mg of caffeine a day. That is about the amount of caffeine found in four small cups of regular coffee. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to eight hours. This can affect your sleep. Switch to decaffeinated drinks, unsweetened herbal tea or water about four hours before bedtime.
  8. Avoid alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol after work. A drink may make you feel more relaxed, but alcohol can disturb your sleep.
  9. Have a light snack before bedtime. It's hard to fall asleep when you're too hungry or too full. If you're still hungry after work eat a small healthy snack before bedtime. Try a bowl of whole grain cereal with milk or a piece of whole grain toast with jam. If you're too full at bedtime try cutting out a snack during your shift.
  10. Stay at a healthy body weight. Healthy eating and active living play a big role in helping you reach and maintain a healthy weight. When you have a healthy body weight, you'll lower your chances of getting heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

For more information visit Dietitians of Canada