We understand, as a shift worker, it can be very difficult to juggle a menu plan around your hours and switch back in to normal eating habits.
Here are some helpful tips which may help you make the most of your program despite your irregular working hours.
- Have quick healthy foods readily available. You might want to have quick cook foods like fish and chicken fillets ready in the fridge or freezer plus ready prepared veggies so your meal, a delicious stir fry, for example, can be on the table in minutes. Or, you could try cooking some meals in bulk when you have the time, freezing some and moving a serving to the fridge so that it is ready for you after your shift – whatever works for you.
- Adjust your Food Units to your work schedule. Even though you might feel ravenous, shift work does not affect your body’s energy needs as far as calorie requirements are concerned. But, to get through those late nights or irregular work patterns, you might find that you want to eat more on work days to give you a boost. So, on rest days, make up for the extra food units you ate by eating less. For example, you could opt to eat an extra 1-2 snacks or meal on work days or if you are working a long shift. Then, on rest days, cut down by eating one less snack or smaller portions.
- Use your Food & Exercise Tracker. Your guidelines are available to you anytime. But, if your job means that you can’t be near a computer for much of the day, try printing the menu plan and ticking it off throughout the day. Alternatively, you can print the following template as a guide throughout your day: https://www.totalwellbeingdiet.com/au/member/program/program-basics/plan-meals-with-food-groups/
The program is based off food groups, and any food can be replaced with an alternative as long as it is a food of the same food group. For example, if you do not have access to rice and it is on your weekly plan/list, you can replace this with any other breads & cereals food, e.g. bread, wraps, pasta and so on. At the end of the day, as long as you meet the units per day e.g. 2 serves fruit, you can eat what you like, or what is available even if you aren't necessarily following the menu plan. During this time do what you can, make necessary substitutions and eat what is available while sticking to the units.
- Try our protein basic menu plan, it has larger meals that make leftovers each week so that for other meals throughout the week you can simply heat up a meal and not cook. The overall other meals are quite simple and time efficient, and it is also a cost effective meal plan.
- Try to have your breakfast within an hour of waking - this will help you feel awake and give you energy for the rest of your day.
- Try to fit in three meals each day plus snacks to prevent you reaching for unhealthy options like vending machines.
- Remember to have a good balance of all major food groups eg. a tuna, egg or chicken and salad sandwich with fruit or yoghurt is a good, light meal choice.
- Take some healthy options with you for munching during your shift. And, when you leave work, have some tasty, healthy snacks ready for when you arrive home.
- Be careful with having too much caffeine or sugar and drink plenty of water.
- Try not to have a large meal before bed.
- Exercise when you can. A home workout DVD may be a good option if you find it difficult to get to a gym.