3 Simple And Easy Ways To Eat Healthy And Curb Cravings While Working Night Shift

By Vanessa S. Elliott
 
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It’s 4 am and you are nearing the end of your 12-hour shift, when your stomach starts growling and the first thing you grab are the crackers in the patient pantry. You have one pack, with hopes that you will be okay, but then suddenly you have downed 5 packs and washed it down with a soda. Then you say to yourself, “Well, there goes my healthy eating plan!” Sound familiar?
 
Working the night shift is not the most fun activity and can be harmful to our health. However, many healthcare professionals take on this not-so-easy shift because of life circumstances. Whether it is increasing your physical activity or eating healthier, working nights can  make it a bit more difficult to stay on track with your health goals. You find yourself in a vicious cycle of feeling too tired, leading to not having the desire to exercise or cook healthy meals, prompting you to eat whatever is readily available, which may not be the best option, pizza anyone? When you start to feel tired, your body begins to crave sugar because it knows that it is the fastest way to increase energy levels; but what this does is have you reaching for a donut,  not  fruit, leading you to crave more junk food. The horror!
 
How can you avoid this and stay on track? Here are 3 simple ways to stay clear from the junk food at night, which you can implement on your next shift!
 
  1. Be prepared! Before your shift, prep your healthy snacks and/or any meals you would like to have while at work; this will help to reduce the likelihood of eating junk food because you are armed with healthy food! One of my go-to meals for the night shift is sautéed vegetables with grilled chicken or baked salmon.
  2. Go for macro combo snacks. Instead of just having an apple, have it with a side of all-natural nut butter; this can help you to stay fuller longer. Other examples are: guacamole and veggies; sliced ham with veggies; and fruit and nuts. 
  3. Stay hydrated! We really underestimate the importance of drinking water! We were designed to drink water, not juice and soda! To curb cravings, drink water throughout your shift; you can even add fresh fruit and/or herbs to spice things up!
 
Eating healthy while working the night shift does not have to be hard! If you are prepared to combat hunger pangs, you can keep on track with your goals! 
 
Vanessa S. Elliott, BSN, RN, HWNC-BC works the night shift on a postpartum unit and is a certified health and wellness nurse coach.
 
Posted by Holly E Carpenter, RN, BSN on Oct 30, 2019 1:23 PM America/Chicago

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