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*[Image Goes Here]*        Shift workers often have problems keeping a “normal” eating schedule. As a result they are at high risk for developing an ulcer, unhealthy weight, and heart disease. They may also suffer from loss of appetite, diarrhea, and constipation.


The typical night worker tends to snack more, eat more simple carbohydrates (ie sweets and refined grains), use more caffeine and alcohol and tend to exercise less. What you eat and when you eat it may also affect the quality of your sleep between shifts.


The food you eat at night is burned less efficiently and may cause weight gain. Avoid snacking on high fat, high calorie foods during your night shift (that’s right, no more ordering pizza at 2:00 am) and pack a healthier lunch that includes foods from all four food groups.


Try some of the following suggestions to help maintain a normal metabolism, promote restful sleep and prevent weight gain:


  1. Schedule regular meals. Try to eat 3 meals in each 24-hour period. It’s a good idea to eat a lunch to break up the shift and don’t miss breakfast. It will improve your appetite and keep your bowels regular.
  2. Cut back on highly seasoned foods. For some people, spicy meats, sauces, salad dressings and hot pickles irritate the stomach. Choose fresh unprocessed meats, mild sauces and oil and vinegar dressings.
  3. Cut back on fried foods and foods high in fat. These are harder to digest.
  4. Limit caffeine-containing foods and beverages like coffee, cola and chocolate. These foods can cause distress in the digestive tract.
  5. Drink less at the end of a shift so you don’t interrupt your sleep.
  6. Try eating several healthy small meals/snacks throughout your shift instead of larger meals if it works with your break time.
  7. Try light meals of grains, fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products and small amounts of lean meat for a deeper, longer sleep.
  8. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and greasy foods within five hours of sleep.


Try these ideas for low fat, high fibre lunches that include foods from all 4-food groups, or use each food for a snack idea:



Shift work does present some road blocks to regular eating and nutrition. With a little more planning and effort you can lower your risk of health problems and feel better overall. For more information contact Nutrition Services at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit: 625-5900.


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