When you’re working a long shift, the last thing you need is to feel sluggish. The food choices you make can either fill your tank and give you energy or leave you with an upset stomach, acid reflux, indigestion, gas or bloating. Too often, busy work schedules can lead to poor food choices and behaviors. It’s important to prioritize your nutrition on shift so you can function with the energy you need.
Top 10 foods to avoid on shift
- Fast food is low quality and has been highly processed. Also, it contains additives, unhealthy trans-fat, and calories void of nutritious value.
- Fried foods are loaded with saturated fat, sugar, and calories. The onion ring is a great example of how everything that’s good about a vegetable can be expunged, thanks to being deep fried.
- Sugary cereals often pack more sugar into one bowl than you’ll find in a Boston Cream Donut. Not to mention, they usually contain artificial coloring, chemicals, and saturated fats.
- Doritos: The recipe for the popular chip was specially designed so that no single flavor overpowers another. When foods lack a dominant flavor, people are less apt to feel full and, in turn, consume more, say researchers. What’s more, one of the first ingredients on the food’s label is monosodium glutamate (MSG), an additive that’s been known to increase appetite and make foods taste more appetizing.
- Frozen meals tend to be extremely high in sodium and loaded with artificial preservatives. But, they are convenient. Check out these frozen meals for a healthier choice.
- Dried fruit may seem like a good choice, but actually are packed with added sugar, sulfites, and vegetable oil. You’re much better off with whole pieces of fruit.
- Hot dogs contain sodium phosphate, corn syrup, and their high levels of sodium and carcinogen-producing nitrates.
- Cakes, cookies, sweets are high glycemic index (GI) carbs spike blood sugar, which causes the body to produce more insulin. Despite a sugar “high” or quick bout of energy, after the insulin shunts glucose into cells, the blood glucose drops, leaving the person feeling low in energy or mood.
- Liquid sugar: Bottled smoothies often contain 61g of carbs; energy drinks corrode your teeth and damage liver; regular soft drinks contain more than a full day’s recommendation of sugar.
- Flavored yogurt is packed with sugar and carbs. Substitute Greek yogurt and mix in your own fruit, as that delivers twice the amount of hunger-satisfying protein.
10 Things to eat while on shift
- Hardboiled Eggs are one of the healthiest and most weight-loss-friendly foods you can eat. They are convenient and incredibly filling, thanks to their protein content. Keep the yolk to get important nutrients like vitamin D. They also contain leucine, an amino acid known to stimulate energy production in several ways.
- The complex carbs in oatmeal make the cereal a filling, slow-burning source of energy.
- Veggies and hummus. Hummus has only a few ingredients, each of which contribute nutrients for energy. The fiber and protein that the beans provide stabilize blood sugar, take the edge off hunger, and boost energy.
- Last night’s leftovers. If you can, make healthy meals at home with extra portions so you can bring a nutritious meal to eat at work.
- Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. These complex carbs are a great source of iron, magnesium and vitamin C.
- Almonds. Among their nutrients, the vitamin B found in almonds combat fatigue, irritability, and can boost concentration. Stick to eating about 23 nuts to keep calories in check.
- Popcorn is a whole-grain carbohydrate with staying power. Containing fiber, whole grain snacks help prevent the blood-sugar crashes that happen after consuming refined or simple carbohydrates.
- All-natural peanut butter: Although peanut butter is a calorie-dense food, it’s a healthy fat with protein and fiber to fill you up and bring you energy. Just be sure to avoid brands with added sugars, and stick to a 2-tablespoon serving.
- Bananas are nature’s pre-packaged and portable healthy snack. They’re filled with fiber, vitamin B6, and potassium and promote sustained energy.
- Kale Add an energy-boost to your salad by using nutrient-rich kale. Kale contains nutrients that can give you a mental lift and also antioxidants and fiber that fill you up and keep your blood sugar stable.
The human body needs quality fuel to function optimally and to meet physical activity requirements. Focus on nutrient dense foods. Protein gives us steady, sustained energy and increases the production of a brain chemical that regulates concentration. Complex carbs offer slow-burning source of energy and satiety, and good fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, promote healthy blood-fat levels and boost the absorption of nutrients. Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and aims to remove all trans fats. Be mindful of added sugar and high processed foods. Follow guidelines specifically for health conditions and aim for balanced meals and snacks. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and treats.