Night Shift


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I am having trouble with figuring out when to eat with this round of whole30. I am a night shift nurse which means 6 days a week I work 12 hour shifts from 7p-7a. The rest of the week I kind of keep more normal hour with a slow progression back towards earlier waking and night time sleeping, but not ever a full switch in schedule. So, I don't know how to eat three meals a day without snacking. My metabolism is all over the place. I'm sticking to eating when I am hungry but sometimes this is like an apple with almond butter versus a balanced meal. Any other night shifters out there have this figured out? I would appreciate any suggestions. 

 

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Disclaimer: I haven't worked overnights in ages, and certainly not since I discovered Whole30, so I'm basing any suggestions off what I know my body went through and inserting what I've learned about my own snacking habits through Whole30.

Your shifts swing, so one thing I'd probably do is try to find an "anchor point" that would remain the same on both. For instance, maybe that anchor point could be an evening meal time (5:30p? 6p?) that would serve as your dinner for day shift and meal 1 for overnights. I'd found it was easier for me to function and eat good food when my body knew I would feed it at that time, even if some days it was for an "end meal" and other days it was the start of my day.

I'd also consider putting together several mini-meals that hit all the macros (basically half or quarter what you'd consider a regular meal, and maybe even put together in a way that will allow you to eat it quickly if needed). That should allow you to follow your hunger cues without feeling like some slight hunger requires you to eat a full meal, and without feeling like you absolutely have to go a handful of hours in between since nurses don't necessarily get a chance to sit down at regular intervals.

For me, that would mean having a bunch of little baggies or storage boxes, so I keep it all separate (pre-portioned into my mini-meals so it takes less time to grab one and I don't have to worry about how much is there). I'd do things like: chicken salad and cucumber slices with tiny tomatoes; "sandwich" roll-ups (sandwich meat, veggies, some avocado, condiments, rolled up with the meat on the outside to hold it all in there); cubed chicken breast with roasted veggies like cubed sweet potato and broccoli; a boiled egg and raw veggies with a bit of homemade ranch dip; and so on.

I personally would opt for things I could eat cold, provided there's a place where you can store your food bag. In terms of how much food to take, that'll be a personal thing. I'd go with half-sized meals myself, and shoot for around 3 hours between food breaks, which means I'd need to pack 4 mini-meals for a 12h shift. I know myself well enough to say that I'd do 6 of them instead, and grab several at once if I had the chance to sit down for a "real lunch break" and felt hungry enough to eat a regular-sized meal.

There's also the option of making one larger meal and a couple/few snack-sized ones, to be used throughout the shift as needed and able. The biggest thing would be to try to avoid heavier foods or anything you've found brings a bit of discomfort, because that's bad enough to deal with at home but can be awful when it happens at work.

Good luck, and thank you for what you do!

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This article might help:  https://nomnompaleo.com/post/55156756199/surviving-the-night-shift

In general, I would plan to eat every 4-5 hours, starting with breakfast within an hour of waking. This might mean four full meals on days you work 12 hour shifts, or three full meals and a mini meal or two. 

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