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!

 

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