Balance shift work and your diet (Night shifts and weight gain)

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ImageI have recently started working night shifts and I found it a real struggle both on psychological and physical level.

I am a typical dinner skipper and I’ve been replacing my dinner with healthy snacks, salads and soups for about 2 years now, but obviously you won’t survive the entire night on just one soup. 

I have been working for only two weeks now and I’ve gained 2 kilograms just from eating at night and not being used to it. I’m still exercising 4 times a week during the evening before my shift – but that doesn’t seem to boost my metabolism too much. I’ve tried to give it a good thought and find ways to adapt my diet to shifting work without having to gain weight. 

The worst is when your shifts are constantly jumping from day work to night work (that’s what happens to me) – because your metabolism goes bananas and slows down dramatically. Actually, this has been quite a challenge for me also cause I can’t do nothing about the shifting work and about my metabolism. Another ugly side of shifting work is that you’re constantly craving sugary, salty and energy boosting snacks that are of course causing nothing but weight gain. For all those of you who experience this – I feel for you, we’re in the same boat! 

Here are some ways through which I tried to balance my diet and eat healthily during the night and try to avoid snacking on unhealthy stuff:

– I started packing my own lunch/dinner which consists of big chunks of vegetables and ham or chicken and eggs. The most frequent lunch components are: bell-peppers, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, beans, egg, chicken, ham and low-fat cheese. The advantage of these ingredients is that you can mix any kind of salad out of them which is at the same time delicious and healthy. I am sometimes replacing the meat with tuna, salmon and some nuts  and I usually use olive oil or low-fat yoghurt as dressing. 

Now the reason why I have mentioned the “big chunks” of vegetables is because if you cut your vegetables in bigger pieces, you will feel fuller faster and you will most likely eat less. 

– Another trick for avoiding unhealthy snacking is replacing them with soup powders that are easy and fast to make and contain not more than 120 calories per cup of soup. You can buy these in any grocery store, they don’t cost anything and drinking them will take your hunger away and make you feel full again.

– My last trick is drinking a glass of fresh fruit juice or (if you don’t have it near by), a glass of green tea with lemon. Tea is a good hunger ditcher and it gives you energy.

– Last but not least, if you’re still hungry after a while, you can snack with an apple, orange or banana. They contain healthy sugars and they will most certainly take your hunger away.

Even though all these tricks might be very useful in keeping your weight stable, you shouldn’t forget about exercising. At least 3 days a week should be your norm ,especially when working irregular shifts. Sport keeps your metabolism running especially in this changing sleep schedule. 

I am still struggling as well, it is difficult and unpleasant to stay up during the hours when most of the others are sleeping. For those of you who really care about their diet and weight, I can assure you that these tricks will work for you. 

Keep yourself away from unhealthy snacks because during the night they tend to have a stronger negative impact on your body than during the day.

Stay calm, stay focused! Have a good shift everyone!

 

“A Large Cappuccino Please!” COFFEE – Healthy or not during your diet?

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coffee-heartThe amount of people that accuse coffee of causing illnesses and harm is just the same as the amount of people stating that coffee is actually beneficial for your body. So who is right and who is wrong? Well, it’s a little bit of both.

There are many myths behind the “story of coffee” and I am going to break some of them in this article today. Exaggerating with your coffee intake or refusing to drink it without even having an idea of how it actually affects your body – is a little silly, isn’t it?

So are you curious now? As always, to make it more simple for everyone, I’m going to define the benefits of coffee as “THE GOOD” and its negative sides as “THE BAD” respectively.

Let’s start with good news…

THE GOOD

Coffee can help you burn fat – due to its stimulating effects, coffee increases the speed of your metabolism and the oxidation of fatty acids, which basically means – you burn fat faster and more efficiently.

Coffee can heal your headache – Paracetamol or aspirin is not always the best cure against your headache. In fact, I would say it is the worst cure. Subjecting your body to chemicals is not the best solution against your pain, and coffee might be a good alternative. Because it boosts the functioning of your nervous system, it can as well heal your headache within minutes. Give it a try!

Coffee contains vitamins – Yes, surprisingly studies show that coffee contains a small dose of some of the daily vitamins that your body requires. Such include: Vitamin B5, B2, B1 and even Potassium and Magnesium and most importantly, a lot of antioxidants! Antioxidants help protecting your cells against damage, thus keeping your skin, nails and hair in a better condition and strengthening your immune system. Quite impressive for a dark brown liquid at the first sight – don’t you think?

Coffee prevents the risk of depression – Yet another benefit of coffee proven by the Harvard School of Public Health is its ability to prevent women’s depression by as much as 20%. The studies show that women that consumed in average 2 cups of caffeinated coffee per day were less subjected to depression that those that drank none. Coffee makes you happy? Interesting.

Coffee doesn’t cause cancer or heart diseases – This is the most common myth that coffee is being blamed for! Fortunately, studies have proven that this is just a myth and there was no relationship established between coffee drinking and heart ache, if you know what I mean.

Enough about the good. If you are against coffee or you just can’t stand it for some particular reason, you’re probably eager to find out what are the harms that coffee may bring to your system.

THE BAD

Coffee may increase your cholesterol level – Excessive consumption of unfiltered coffee may slightly increase your levels of cholesterol, some studies show. To define what exactly is meant by “excessive” – well it is considered that more than 2 cups of coffee a day is a little too much for your system.

Coffee might cause mood swings – Committed coffee lovers might experience mood swings during the day and that is partially because of their redundant coffee consumption. This is due to the fact that coffee speeds up the activity of your nervous system thus giving you more energy and a smile on your face. If you exaggerate with your coffee intake, your body experiences energy boosts several times a day, which stresses your system a lot. Therefore, try to keep your daily coffee intake within the recommended amount and then your mood won’t change like the seasons 4 times a day.

Coffee causes dehydration – As you may have probably experienced yourself, you tend to go to the toilet more often after having a cup of coffee. Indeed, it has been proved by the scientists that coffee does have an effect on your urinating system and drains water from your body. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to have a full glass of water after your coffee in order to compensate the liquid loss. Dehydration might cause dizziness, headache and exhaust – keep your body hydrated!

Coffee is addictive – In fact, anything in this world might cause an addiction. This is not only the case with coffee, and yet it might become an unhealthy habit. There are many other things in this world that give you energy so try to not to rely on coffee all the time – it is just a drink, a way to enjoy your break at work or have a chat at the cafe. Don’t make it your ENERGY FOUNTAIN!

Coffee and calories – what about that?

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And this is another side of today’s topic where I would like to give you some helpful advice. Coffee on its own has no calories, and in fact is no threat for your weight. Obviously, things that go with it are the ones that you need to think of: milk, sugar, creamer, cream, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, cacao powder, etc etc.

To make this more simple, here is how I would advice you to drink your coffee:

1. Use milk to make it sweeter. Try to avoid using sugar or creamer, since both of these things are processed products that are unhealthy for you. Besides, they are loaded with calories. Milk is a way healthier option because it also contains calcium that is so important for your bones. If you find the taste of coffee quite disgusting, well there are two ways to tackle this problem: 1) get used to it by expanding your tasting profiles, 2) add 1 tea-spoon of sugar into your cup – that is MORE than enough!

2. Try to avoid all the creamy stuff. Whipped cream, foamy cream, any cream in your coffee is nothing more than a sugary, fatty and diet-breaking addition. I know that it tastes good, but we are here to taste the coffee, to feel its flavors and not make a dessert out of it. Don’t worry, this  is at least my opinion. I would rather have a cheese cake on the side with an Espresso, than having a cheese cake on the side and another dessert with a bit of coffee in it – you decide!

3. No sprinkles, cacao, etc. The reason for this is exactly the same as just mentioned before! If you love it with all these compliments, well then you’ll have to face a coffee that has about 400 calories instead of just 1.

4. Use a bit of syrup or honey to sweeten. I have tried this in one of the restaurants I’ve been to, and I was quite impressed. The coffee had more interesting flavors in it, and was sweet enough for a sweet-tooth like me. Besides, a coffee like this is likely to have 100 calories per cup instead of the overwhelming 400.

I hope this gave you a good insight on the story of coffee! This has been quite explicit, but I hope – helpful! Thank you for reading 🙂