Are you eating food made out a laboratory … AKA lots of ultra-processed, refined and sugar-laden foods, or more whole, real foods designed by Mother Nature?
Because apart from the fact the body struggles to break down and digest these types of “foods”, according to a French study published in JAMA (2019), for every 10% portion of our diet that’s made up of processed foods, our risk of developing diabetes jumps up another 15% right along with it.
Now this might not sound earth-shattering, but if you are a shift worker, this percentage rises even more as sleep deprivation, alone, disrupts the regulation of blood sugar levels.
This is because if you’re awake when you’re not meant to be (AKA the life of EVERY shift worker on the planet!), it leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which raises blood sugar levels.
The body does this because when you’re sleep deprived, it senses that your life is in danger.
This week I’m talking about something called Central Adiposity, or the more fancy term being “Belly Fat”.
Why is this important?
Well, just like high blood pressure, obesity has an inflammatory component which means it can interfere with the immune response and vice versa.
In a review published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (2012), researchers stated:
Obesity, like other states of malnutrition, is known to impair the immune function, altering leukocyte counts as well as cell-mediated immune responses. In addition, evidence has arisen that an altered immune function contributes to the pathogenesis of obesity.
When we’re carrying extra weight, especially around the middle, it shifts our biology out of balance because fat cells release pro-inflammatory proteinscalled cytokines.
In other words, fat cells are a living breathing thing. They’re not stagnant that just sit there and do nothing!
They’re actually endocrine cells because of their ability to secrete hormones and influence cells in other parts of the body, that in many cases, can lead to further weight gain.
Sorry, not exactly the rosiest of scenarios but it’s important that I tell it as it is!
The other day it was raining ☔️ here in my hometown of Brisbane, so I thought what better way than to experiment in the kitchen!
Now given the majority of shift workers experience “hangry” moments thanks to blood sugar dysregulation as a result of sleep disruption, I wanted to come up with a recipe that would help to keep sugar cravings at bay.
Meet Mr Macadamia Nut Hummus– the perfect sugar craving antidote whether you’re on an early shift, late shift, night shift or heaven forbid a “normal” shift – lol
Macadamia nuts are high in healthy monounsaturated fats to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and are a great source of magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, vitamins B1, B3 & E, phosphorus and zinc.
Chickpeas are packed with gut-friendly fibre which help to stabilise blood sugar levels (and fend off those “hangry” cravings), as well as making them great for insulin-resistant individuals or diabetics. Health conditions which are becoming increasingly common in those who work 24/7.
In addition, chickpeas are a great source of protein and contain minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and zinc.
What’s in it?
2/3 cup roasted macadamias
1 can chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Handful of parsley
How to make it?
Throw everything into a food processor for 10-15 seconds (I like a chunky consistency), or longer until smooth.
Store in a container to bring into work to have with crackers or veggie sticks and share with workmates (maybe?!) It’s also delicious as a base on sourdough toast topped with eggs, mushrooms and/or roasted tomatoes!
Is this “breakfast” sounding familiar? Now as a former shift worker myself, I’m certainly not going to tell you to never buy that flat white, cappuccino or latte ever again – especially if you’ve been up way before the crack of dawn!
However, if you’re going to combine it with a muffin or two, then I’d definitely recommend bringing in your own home-made muffins into work cause those store bought muffins … well let’s just say their ingredients are often a little questionable, not to mention laden with refined and processed sugars, trans fats, vegetable oils along with a whole host of other inflammatory ingredients.
It’s why I decided to pop the apron on this afternoon, and bake a batch of these Pumpkin, Cinnamon and Cardamom muffins that the shift working hubster can take into work, and are bursting with blood-stabilising goodness.
In other words, they’re going to help you to “get more bang for your meal break buck” by helping you to feel fuller for longer, so that you’re less likely to fall under the ‘magnetic spell’ of the vending machine at work.
What’s great about them?
Pumpkins are loaded with nutrients including vitamins K, C and E, potassium, iron, B-vitamins to name a few!
They’re high in fiber which means a happier gut and digestive system – super important for shift workers who are often prone to digestive complaints thanks to ongoing circadian disruption.
They contain a good dose of beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A – a vitamin that plays a role in helping the body to fight off infections. A timely post given it’s officially the first day of winter here in Australia!
Cinnamon helps to stabilise blood sugar thereby reducing those blood sugar highs and lows that are synonymous with food cravings.