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Thread: What to eat during a 12 hour night shift at a hospital?!

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    What to eat during a 12 hour night shift at a hospital?!

    Hello everyone!

    I did have a little look around the forum for similar threads but I decided to start my own in the hope that someone can advise me based on my own personal shift situation.

    I am a nurse and so regularly rotate onto nights. When I work days (12.5 hrs) it is quite easy to plan meals/snacks. But I don't seem able to do the same when I work 12.5hr nights?

    I usually work 3 or 4 nights in a row. I start at 7.30pm and finish at 8am. I work on the NICU so it is a busy environment which keeps me busy and on my feet most of the time so I do burn more energy than I usually would at night!! I usually get 2x half an hour breaks, though sometimes will just take the one half an hour break depending on my workload. I try to take a half an hour break somewhere between 1 and 3am, then if I do take a second it will be another half an hour between 5 and 7am.

    I tend to go home and get straight into bed, then I won't eat until I get up properly in the late afternoon/early evening - this might seem lazy that I sleep from about 8.45am-5.30pm but whilst I don't have children I like to make the most of it and completely switch my body clock over as if I was sleeping between day shifts. If I wake in the day I will just have a drink, or sometimes a piece of fruit if I feel really peckish which usually happens after my first night shift.

    This might make some people feel unwell, but my other half usually cooks and so when I wake up I will eat a full dinner as usual - so this will be some kind of regular evening meal rather than breakfast. I should probably eat breakfast and then dinner before bed, but it is such a faff when he wants to have normal dinner and I don't fancy cooking myself a dinner and eating it at 8.30am!!

    So should I still eat lunch on my first break, like a pasta salad or something, and then my usual breakfast on my second break with pieces of fruit in between, or should I just simply graze on healthy foods throughout the night and not eat proper meals? Especially as I'll have already eaten dinner which tends to keep me full for quite a long time.

    I'm not following SW religiously but I tend to use their extra easy principles of 1/3 superfree foods etc and cooking free foods for meals. Nights make me crave sugary snacks, so should I use syns overnight where I wouldn't normally eat them in the day?

    If anyone has any tips as to how they eat on the night shift and what kinds of things they eat - that would be great! I find nights are a nightmare for causing fluid retention and gassy bloating regardless of what/when I eat so I always weigh significantly more after night shifts than I did before I started!

    Kersten xx

  2. #2
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    Hi Kersten

    I've got to take my hat off to you...those of us that are used to a 8:30 to 5 tend to forget how good we have it! It sounds like you not only work very hard, but in a challenging job, and at unsociable hours too.

    I don't know if there is any benefit from eating breakfast when your body 'thinks' its breakfast time as opposed to any other type of food synonymous with lunch or dinner.. though that does raise a very interesting question! Its made me wonder whether there are any documented studies related to the effect of eating patterns and snacking when people are deprived of any time references. Ie. Did people eat more snacks to see them through to the later part of their day because they were expecting to fill up at 'dinner time'. Sorry, guess thats the analyst in me thinking out loud.

    I'm not familiar with the SW plan so hopefully others who are can offer some tips on that score, but I did read somewhere that lack of sleep can be detrimental to weight loss so I probably wouldn't worry about sleeping the hours you do. Your body will probably get as much rest as it needs.

    I hope that you get some more replies to your post...they will no doubt be more helpful than mine, but I wanted to post something as I can appreciate just how hard it must be when your body clock is out of sync with us daytime people. I reckon there must be a study somewhere between nocturnal eating habits and those during more traditional waking hours which might offer valuable insight.

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    I'm a nurse as well, and like you, as I am a sister of a crazy busy ED department, getting breaks can be a nightmare! What I tend to do, is think of the meals I would be 'sleeping' for. I cant eat a lot when I get up, so maybe a cup of tea and a biscuit and maybe a small snack before work. Then when I am there I have my 'breakfast' and 'lunch', so porridge then a proper meal, with fruit/yogurt as a top up if needed.

    Just wondering what op you have has Ellie, as I know eating when you get up can be a nightmare with certains ops!

    Start - 15st 5lb
    1st wk 14st 11lb.......= -9lb!! (7 days attack)
    2nd wk 14st 13lb.....= +2lb
    3rd wk 14st 10lb......= -3lb!
    weigh in before 11lb gone!
    4th wk 14st 6lb.......13.5lb gone!!!
    5th wk 14st 6lb.......period! ARSE!
    5th wk 14st 5lb (finished period!)
    Back. 14st 12lb.

    Back On Track 1st Week 14st 5lb. (After 6 days attack)
    2nd week 14st 2lb...(-3lb)
    3rd week 14st 1lb....(-1lb)

    Well, nothing worked, so having a revision on the 28th October!
    Pre-op diet: (2 weeks)
    17.2lb Start weight.

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    This is something I've been thinking a lot about as well recently, but as I only do 7 nightshifts (12 hrs) in a 6 week period, I never really get into a routine.

    Finishing at 7, I normally put the kids out to school at 9 before I get to bed, so I end up having Breakfast.

    Never got used to shifts in 19 years, so normally back up between 2-3 and have a second breakfast/snack. Then dinner with the family.

    For nightshifts, it was always convenience foods or takeaways which would technically be lunch.

    Anyways, just starting dieting again and had been thinking of sticking to home made soup and/or fruit when on nights. Just something to take the edge off.

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