Shift work can make a healthy lifestyle difficult to follow. Your work hours constantly change so you can't get into a routine of exercise and eating. You are more likely to skip meals and not exercise. This can then lead to snacking and eating food high in sugar. But it is still possible to live healthily. To help you I have listed some tips here on how to stay healthy while working shifts.
This is the most important tip and applies to everything (even if you don't work shifts you should be doing this!). Plan what you are going to eat for the week. Precook meals in bulk and then store them until you need them. Prepare as much food the day before as you can (for example you can use my Breakfast Smoothie recipe)
This is the next part of preparation. Hopefully you know what hours you are working for the week. Work out what time you need to go to bed and what time you need to get up for these shifts (stick to these as sleep is a large part of a healthy lifestyle). Then plan when you want your meal times to be. Finally plan in when you are able to exercise (you can even break this up throughout the day, for example 20 minutes before a shift and then 20 minutes afterwards). Write this all down so you have a plan to refer to
If you know that you eat a lot of snacks during or after shifts, the first thing to do is to clear out all the unhealthy snacks from your house and your workspace. If they are not there you can not be tempted by them. Instead stock up on healthy snacks such as fruit or vegetables (cut up an apple and have it with yoghurt and cinnamon!). Make sure that you take these healthy snacks to work and that you bring your own meals.
If you are sat at a desk during your shift make sure you get up and walk around every 30 minutes (you should do this if you don't work shifts!). Make a habit of taking 2 minutes to walk to the end of your office and back, or walking to the water fountain. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, do 10 bodyweight squats or lunges every 15 minutes. The key is to keep moving during the shift.
Hopefully you managed to find time to exercise when you made your schedule. This does not mean that you need to go to the gym for 2 hours, 20 minutes before work and after work are enough. You can do an exercise routine at home (watch my exercise videos for inspiration)
Energy drinks are extremely high in sugar and in calories. Sugar and coffee with added sugar and milk are also high in calories. If you need the energy boost that these give you try drinking black coffee or green tea instead.
Hopefully these tips will be helpful for people who work shifts. I know it is not not possible to be healthy 100% of the time, but if you can manage it 80% of the time you will see the benefits. It takes a little more planning but it is possible. If you have any other tips or comments why not share them here?