You are looking for nutrition tips for shift workers? You go to work when others are just getting home? Do you eat a warmed up meal while your partner is fast asleep because you have to work a night shift again? Getting sick of all that and losing your appetite? We understand… That is why we have gathered information about what tastes good when you are working a night shift, what the best times to eat are and how much you may eat: The best tips for a healthy diet for shift workers with night service.
Why do we work nightshifts? Why do we do all that caring and cleaning, talking and walking? Because we love our jobs as EMTs, Nurses, doctors, firefighters, policemen etc. But the service to your fellow men, to help the sick or the needy and to experience their emotions is psychologically and physically draining for the medical staff. So what about some soul food for all those brave workers? What is tasty and at the same time healthy, easy to digest, easy to prepare and energizes the body and soul?
How healthy is your nutrition?
Whole foods and healthy drinks keep you strong, promote performance and well-being. But what are the dishes I should focus on? Check out the circle of nutrition by the German Society of Nutrition (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, DGE): The circle divides the rich food offer into 7 groups. Each food group supplies certain nutrients in different amounts:
- Cereals, cereal products, potatoes
- Vegetables, salad
- Milk, dairy products
- Meat, sausage, fish, egg
- Fats, oils
The larger the segment, the more can be eaten from this area – the smaller the segment, the less should be eaten. Almost three-quarters of daily consumption of foodstuffs should be plants, i.e. cereals, cereal products, potatoes, as well as vegetables, lettuce and fruit.
One quarter of the daily consumed food should be animal-produces such as milk and dairy products, meat, sausage, fish and eggs.
Fats and oils occupy only a very small field in the diet. In the center of the circle of nutrition is the group of beverages. The body needs fluids in sufficient quantities because without water one can only survive a few days. Therefore, you should absorb at least 1.5 liters of liquids daily and choose low-calorie drinks.
Best Receipe for shift worker: Prepare small dishes
Eating small, wholesome meals when you are working in a hospital means eating anything which is left inside the nurses’ station. Also plundering the small bowls of sweets is regarded as a popular sport, mostly by doctors. But the feeling of saturation does not occur, sugar is only available for a few minutes and shortly afterwards the power boost is imminent.
So it is better to organize your food. You rarely have the possibility to eat a “normal” dish fully and undisturbed. Prepare small, ready-to-eat portions that you do not have to devour. Nearly all types of food are allowed during night shifts, if they are prepared properly. Low fat, wholesome ingredients are best, for example, dishes with lean meat, fish or eggs, each prepared with little fat are tasty and easy to digest. You do not need to skip potatoes, noodles or rice. Also vegetables and salads are allowed. Even milk products, fruit and compote are generally ok..
Eating eight to twelve slices of an oily salami pizza during one night shift does not correspond to the idea of small portions. Look for foods that are high in fiber. In combination with ample fluid, this helps to maintain a confused digestion. What about coffee and tea? Drink them as warm as you can, as they help the body to maintain its temperature and fight against the unpleasant cold feeling that every night attendant knows. And enjoy the neuro enhancing forces of a cup of coffee…
If your day begins at four in the morning, it is natural that your body develops a feeling of hunger for a proper meal while people in offices are not even thinking about the first cup of coffee yet. Whoever sleeps during the day faces the feeling of hunger at midnight. But eating that late means falling asleep at home with a full tummy which can be as uncomfortable as eating too early and going to bed hungry. The following meal times and caloric amounts for shift workers have been proven to be ideal:
Calories for shift workers
|Meal||Time||% of daily energy||Example:Female (40)|
|Lunch||12.00 – 13.00||25||600 kcal|
|Snack||16.00 – 17.00||10||240 kcal|
|Dinner||19.00 – 20.00||20||480 kcal|
|1. Late Meal||0.00 – 1.00||25||600 kcal|
|2. Late Meal||4.00 – 5.00||8||192 kcal|
Not working with the body’s natural bio rhythm during night shifts often leads to a decrease in performance in the late evenings and at night. It is particularly crucial at 3 o’clock in the morning: the most mistakes are committed, because attention, perseverance and concentration ability are at their lowest.