I have had the opportunity of working with a number of clients who do shift work and the same issues have been brought to my attention time and time again. When do I eat when I'm on shift? How often should I eat? How much should I eat? What should I be eating?
Because you are awake when most people are sleeping, the urge to eat because of boredom or hunger pangs is harder to fight. Here are three strategies that could help keep your meal schedule regulated:
1. Eat meals according to time of day, not your shift. If you start work in the afternoon, have your main meal in the middle of the day, rather than in the middle of your shift. If you're working nights, eat your main meal before your shift starts, preferably between 5 and 7 p.m.
2. It's ok to have a small late night pick-up. A snack with a little protein will provide sustained energy late at night when you start to feel tired. Try fruit with a small piece of low fat cheese or half a small whole grain bagel with peanut butter. A late night pick-up will help keep you alert when your body is programmed for sleep.
3. Have a light snack before bed. You can improve the quality of your sleep by not going to bed too full or too hungry. A light carbohydrate rich snack such as whole grain cereal with fruit or whole grain toast and jam are excellent choices.
In this section, you will be able to view relevant information about how to optimize your nutrition to suit your fitness needs.