Surviving shift work: 5 nutrition tips from an AHS dietitian

Alberta Health Services has launched a campaign to help shift workers stay healthy on the job.

How to stay healthy when you work weird hours

Alberta Health Services has launched a campaign to help people eat healthier at work. (Shutterstock/fasphotographic)

It can be tough to eat right when you're constantly burning the midnight oil. 

Alberta Health Services has launched a campaign called Shift to Healthy Eating at Work to help people working long hours make good food and lifestyle choices.

1. Sleep, sleep and more sleep

Karol Sekulic, a dietitian with AHS, says when you don't snooze enough, you are more likely to crave fat and sugar — putting you at a higher risk of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

She says shift workers should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.

Anything less and you'll wake up feeling lazy, and likely won't bother packing yourself a lunch.

2. Establish an eating routine 

Sekulic says it's crucial for shift workers to get into the habit of eating whole foods throughout the day because they boost energy, concentration and productivity.​

Eat within two hours of waking up and choose foods with fibre, protein and healthy fats to keep your hunger under control.

But don't stop there. Take your almonds, berries, avocados, tuna and rice crackers with you to work to avoid a fast-food meal or a visit to the vending machines.   

3. Learn to love H2O

We all forget to drink water, so Sekulic suggests keeping a water bottle with you at all times. 

4. Why yes, you can drink coffee

Bring on the boiled bean juice! Sekulic says drinking coffee is just fine, in moderation.

No more than two 16-ounce cups per day.

5. Take a walk

People often fight the mid-shift slump with sugary drinks and food. Instead, try boosting your melatonin.

"A non-food way to deal with it is to go for a walk on your break for more than 10 minutes," said Sekulic.

She says another way to keep your mind off food is to have a conversation with someone.


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