More than one fifth of the NHS force are shift Healthcare workers.
This rotational shift pattern can put a notable strain on your body.
Shift work doesn’t only affect your regular sleep pattern; it can also affect your diet and exercise pattern as well.
Healthcare workers on shifts are more prone to having general health issues, digestive disorders, higher body mass index, and are possible long-term health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease.
Therefore it is very important that you consider how you can maintain your health and choose the right diet for you during your shift routine.
With the busy schedules and long hours shift, you may have to get snacks, or visit Fast food spots on your way home.
However, consuming these foods with high sugar and high fat in time worsen fatigue, laziness and drowsiness.
Listed below are ways you can have a Healthy dieting lifestyle:
PLAN & PREPARE YOUR MEALS:
Planning is important! Prepare your meals so you don’t fall into the convenience store, vending machine, drive through trap.
When preparing meals, try to make extra portions that can be refrigerated, so you can take them to work or come back home to eat.
A continual intake of poor food choices will affect your long-term health; this is because you are too tired to plan & prepare ahead.
EAT REGULAR MEALS:
You should eat regularly, especially taking three balanced diets within a 24-hour period or two light meals and adding healthy snacks in between.
Having smaller snacks or light meals during breaks is much better than having one big meal, especially at night-time.
Eating too much can make you feel sleepy, hence the well-known food stupor!. This isn’t good for healthcare workers during shifts.
AVOID STARVING YOURSELF:
Don’t go long periods without taking any food. Avoid letting yourself get to a point of starving by the time you are taking breaks or finishing your shift.
At such times, you will be more likely to overeat, as we usually like to over compensate.
As a Healthcare worker, hunger can also affects your judgement and decision making ability.
People tend to make poor decisions when they are hungry, and this isn’t automatically just in relation to food!
PLAN YOUR MEALS BEFORE BEDTIME:
It helps when you take hydrating foods during your breaks, sugar free jelly, soups and fruit (oranges, cucumber, melon, strawberries, pineapple).
Avoid over dependence on caffeine to help keep you awake and alert.
Aim to have any form of caffeine at least four hours before your bedtime. This is so that you sleep at the right time.
Also, it is advisable that you avoid fried, heavily spiced foods or oily meals before going to bed. These can cause indigestion, and also disturb your sleep.
The temptation to have one or two glasses of your favorite tipple to help relax after a demanding shift as a healthcare worker may be uncontrollable.
This can actually have an opposite effect on you and reduce the condition of your sleep.
CONSIDER YOUR ENERGY GIVING MEALS:
Many times it can be tempting to take sweets, a chocolate bar or sugary energy drink when you feel the need to step-up during shifts.
However, such foods will only enhance your energy levels for a while, giving quick & pointed peak in blood sugar levels. Which could be difficult to control.
Healthcare workers are advised to take slow energy releasing foods will be much more helpful.
Whatever the situation, always keep these in mind:
- Introduce healthy fats, high fiber, and high protein to your meals.
- Stay hydrated as often as possible.
- Take more of decaf.
- Have a forward meal plan.
- Take regular meals.
Finally, the truth is that everyone is different; with varying commitments, activities and schedules outside of work.
So you need to have a good meal pattern, before, during & after your shift that works for you and fits your lifestyle, being a healthcare worker.