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What to Eat When You Work The Night Shift?

Andréanne Tremblay-Lebeau

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Healthy eating:

Registered Dietitian

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When you work from 9-5, it’s relatively easy to keep a consistent meal schedule. You eat breakfast before leaving for work, have lunch on your break and indulge in supper when you get home. But did you know that about one third of Canadians do shift work and have to adjust their meals accordingly? According to data from Statistics Canada, approximately 28% of workers (more than 14 million people) work offbeat hours. What are some good habits you can adopt when you work at night, in order to promote digestion, good health, and give you the energy you need to do your job right?

Here are a few tips to help you out:

  • Plan your meals in such a way that you eat 3 balanced meals a day plus snacks between meals if you are hungry. Snacks come in particularly handy on the graveyard shift.
  • For night work, you should try eating your biggest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and not in the middle of night.
  • During your night shift, eating protein will help you stay awake (meat, peanut butter, fish, cheese, legumes, eggs, etc.)
  • Pack a light lunch for halfway through your shift, like a meat sandwich, raw veggies and a yogurt with probiotics. Don’t overeat, as too much food will make you sleepy.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine (coffee, soft drinks, etc.) 4 hours before going to bed.
  • For breakfast following your night shift (before going to bed), avoid consuming too much protein. Protein increases alertness. Opt instead for foods rich in carbs (bread, cereal, fruit, pasta, etc.), which promote sleep.

Keep in mind that we all adjust to such lifestyle changes differently, so make sure to listen to your body and make the right adjustments for you.

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