LOSING weight or maintaining weight can be a challenge for anyone but when you are a shift worker it feels like you are asking for the impossible.
If your job requires you to work odd hours and you can't see a change in careers in the foreseeable future then learning ways to manage food/meals is vital if you want to avoid gaining weight and ill health.
Here are some tips:
1. Firstly be aware of sabotage from fellow workers.
If your fellow workers like to order pizza or takeaway/fried food that is not healthy then don't fall into the trap of following the leader.
I would suggest that you plan ahead and also save money by packing healthy prepared meals and snacks to have during your breaks.
This is a good idea to do no matter what your work hours are as this gives you more control over what you eat and makes it easier to manage what food choices you make and how much you consume.
2. Don't use not having enough time as the excuse to not prepare your own food for work.
Not only is it important to eat healthily but to also avoid having high fat, high salt and sugar foods that will just weigh you down.
Fried food, creamy sauces and junk food can make you feel sluggish, tired and uncomfortable.
Not ideal if you have a busy schedule at work.
3. You are more likely to make better snack choices if you plan your snacks ahead of time.
You don't want to fall into the trap of just grab something (usually junk food) when you get hungry.
You do have to allow time to plan your meals/snacks but it's worth it.
Your health should be your priority especially if you want to avoid too many sick days.
4. If you find it hard to have a break and be able to stop and eat during work then having healthy snacks to have between meals that are quick and easy to grab such as a banana, carrot, one of my low fat muffins or a hand full of nuts will help keep the hunger pangs at bay.
5. Being active outside of work hours will help with your energy, alertness, fitness and ideal for weight management.
With odd working hours it may be more of a challenge to find the right time in your day to go for a 30-40 minute walk or workout but prioritise this for yourself as it not only will help with your weight but also with your stress levels.
Why not suggest to your employer that putting a small gym together for employees to use during their meal breaks would be a great way to help keep fit.
6. If you have a time in your shift where you get really hungry or tired don't look for chocolate or lollies to pacify or pick you up.
You may get an initial burst of energy from all the sugar but quickly you will then get a slump which is not ideal if you are trying to stay focused on the job at hand or have a few hours to go before your shift ends.
The best choice would be to have some lean protein on hand that can help sustain your energy such as a ryvita with low fat cheese and tomato, a protein shake or a handful of nuts.
Another good choice is having half a chicken sandwich (or other protein meat) or some hommus with crackers or carrot sticks.
When you get that slump whether it is at 5am or midnight having these healthy options on hand will help you feel more energized and not pack on the kilos.
7. Finally it is about creating healthy habits that you can sustain both at work and home.
You may find it easier to have 3 large meals a day with no snacks or you might find it easier to have 3 medium size meals and 2 snacks during the day.
The other one that might work better for your shifts is to have 5-6 small meals/snacks during the day.
Your calorie and fat intake should be the same for each day whether you have 3 meals a day or the 5-6 smaller meals.
Remember to exercise as well to balance out your calorie intake.
8. If you go to bed shortly after you get home from work then eat lightly beforehand.
You may find having a large breakfast is your main meal of the day, but it is up to you to work out the best way to manage your meals with your shifts.
It may seem to be a challenge to eat healthily when you are a shift worker but at the end of the day you are responsible for your health whether you work odd hours or not.
You may have extra challenges but it is doable as long as you make the time to plan ahead and make the right choices.
If you do it right your health will be the winner.
Apple Cinnamon Muffins
* Recipes from Symply Too Good To Be True - Book 1
2 egg whites
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon bicarb soda
½ cup apple sauce (in jar)
1 cup apple grated
1 cup apple finely chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 cup self-raising flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200ºC fan forced. Coat 12 cup muffin tray with cooking spray.
Beat egg whites and sugar for 1 minute in a medium size mixing bowl.
Stir bicarb soda into apple sauce (it will froth) then add to bowl. Add in apple and cinnamon.
Gently fold flour into mixture in one go. DO NOT BEAT as this will make the muffins tough.
Once flour is just combined (mixture can look a little lumpy) spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins, equally dividing into 10 cups.
Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.
Once cooked and still hot, brush a little water over the top of each muffin and sprinkle with topping.
Annette's cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-6 are sold in all good newsagencies or visit Annette's website www.symplytoogood.com.au for more recipes, tips and to check out her new 'Symply Slim & Healthy Mentoring Program'.
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