Late shifts are undeniably the perfect opportunity to disconnect the alarm clock and have a bit of a sleep-in. OK, let’s face it. Anything after 4 am is classified as a sleep-in if you work 24/7, so when you actually get to see the sunrise (and you’re not at work) – that gets really exciting!
However, one of the downsides of a late-shift, especially if you’re starting your shift around midday, is that it can mean missing out on lunch, or having a really late lunch where you become so famished that you inhale anything in sight!
I’m talking the chips, burgers, donuts, choccy bars – you name it as I’m sure you can relate.
So what’s the best strategy to overcome those mid-afternoon munchies?
By delaying your breakfast.
Because delaying your breakfast is going to provide you with two benefits:
- It lengthens the time that your digestive system can rest and repair.
- It helps to reduce the time that you may be feeling hungry, soon after starting your shift.
Let’s talk about the first one – the digestive system.
When we work 24/7, we tend to eat 24/7, but this continual eating prevents the delicate cells and tissues in the digestive tract from being able to repair. The fancy, scientific term for this is autophagy, which is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells to allow for the regeneration of newer, healthier cells.
Think of it this way.
Your gut, or gastrointestinal tract is like a highway, and just like a highway needs to undergo repair over time – so too does your digestive tract.
But if we keep pushing over those barriers that the workmen have set up to prevent cars from driving down the road, the surface of that road cannot be repaired.
The same applies if you eat continually, and not allow your gut any “rest time”. The surface of your gut will not be able to heal which can lead to inflammation and a whole host of other gut issues.
So that’s the first reason you want to delay your breakfast before going into a late shift (especially if you’re starting around midday).
The second reason is that it’s going to help you to remain satiated. In other words, feel fuller for longer, so that you’re not seeking out food soon after starting your shift. Especially the highly refined and processed foods that contain little (if any) nutritional value.
Ideally, you want to ensure that your later breakfast is filled with protein and healthy fats as this will help to stabilise your blood sugar, and reduce those blood sugar crashes that lead you to seek out the greasy chips in the staff cafeteria, or the bag of chips from the vending machine!
So here’s a quick and easy late-shift brekky option to get you inspired:
Banana Pancakes topped with Peanut Butter and Raspberries Recipe
- 1 banana
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup raspberries (or fruit of choice)
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- Cinnamon, sprinkle to serve
How to make it?
- Throw the banana and 2 eggs into a blender, and mix for 10-15 seconds.
- Pour batter onto a medium-hot frying pan and cook until bubbles appear. Flip over and cook on the other side for another minute or two.
- Serve with a spoon of peanut butter, and sprinkle with raspberries and cinnamon.
Note: alternate your toppings with Greek yoghurt, nuts and seeds, or other seasonal fruits such as blueberries.
Longo, V & Mattson, M 2014, ‘Fasting: Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications’, Cell Metabolism, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 181-192.
Randall-Demllo, S, Chieppa, M & Eri, R 2013, ‘Intestinal epithelium and autophagy: partners in gut homeostasis’, Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 4, no. 301, pp. 1-14.