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Diets for Shift Work

by Tiffany Monique

About Tiffany Monique

Tiffany Monique has engaged in freelance writing since 1998 and has been a contributing writer for several allergy/immunization-related publications. She is currently serving in the medical career field as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.


The Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School report that shift work increases the chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Third shift workers are expected to labor through the night and function at an acceptable level, even if they feel their energy declining. This causes many workers to search for food and drinks that will give them an instant sugar or caffeine rush. However, unhealthy choices, such as soda and greasy takeout orders, can ultimately wreak havoc on your body and diet.

Eat Sensibly

Instead of visiting the snack machine, pack healthy snacks to get you through the night. Mixed nuts, turkey breast, whole grain bread and brown rice are much healthier options than the salty and sweet options in the vending machine. According to Penn State, frequent meals in modest portions play a major part in tackling fatigue and raising energy levels.

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can cause headache and also tiredness. Water is vital in keeping you full of vigor while during the night shift. A study conducted by The Institute of Medicine revealed that women generally need 91 ounces of water per day and men need about 125 ounces. To ensure a proper amount of hydration during your shift, keep a cup or bottle of water within reach.

Curb Caffeine Intake

Countless shift workers fall victim to the caffeine trap. Caffeine in small amounts may prove harmless, however an overindulgence can lead to increased heart rate, gastrointestinal irritation, muscle twitching, and insomnia. The University of Washington reports that caffeine can remain in your system for at least six hours, and depending on how much you drink, it can remain longer. If you choose to consume caffeine, keep your intake to a minimum and do so at the very beginning of your shift or you may have trouble falling asleep at bedtime. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.

Incorporate Exercise

Regular exercise offers health benefits including controlling weight and combating certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, cancer, and diabetes. Exercise also provides an energy boost. However, beware that increased energy can also disturb your sleep pattern, so exercising prior to your shift as opposed to after would be a better option. If you prefer to work out after your shift, incorporate low intensity exercises such as brisk walking, yoga, or water aerobics, which are beneficial and relaxing.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.