My journey into researching shift work health began back in 2012, when I was a Customer Service Officer and Trainer based at Brisbane Airport, and decided to commence a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Nutritional Medicine part-time, around my current full-time shift working job.
I became fascinated with learning more about Nutrition and how it can influence the health of shift workers when a staff member arrived late into my training class one day holding in her hand – a hamburger, donut and a soft drink.
Whilst that may not seem unusual, it was only 9am and when I politely said – “that’s an interesting choice of breakfast”, her response was “I’ve been up since 4am and in need of some sustenance!”
Sustenance? This word left me totally perplexed as I never knew a hamburger, donut and soft drink could contain so much sustenance!
And this got me curious.
It made me want to learn more about what exactly these sorts of foods were doing to us – particularly when working 24/7. By “these foods” I’m referring to those which are high in saturated fats and trans fats, along with those which are high in refined and processed sugars. Diets which have become fairly standard for many a shift worker these days.
So fast forward to 2016 as I near the home stretch of this science degree, I have to say it’s certainly been an interesting ride. As I’ve focused the majority of my research and assignments around shift work, it’s become somewhat emotional at times.
This is because the more I research, the more my heart sinks for my ever growing tribe of energy depleted and immune compromised shift workers.
In fact I’ve since come to realise, just how incredibly naive I was coming into this degree.
I thought all I was going to need to do, was to learn all about the different macro and micronutrients along with the many vitamins and minerals which are needed to sustain good health. Throw in a few healthy recipes here and there, and voila – I’d be done!
But this degree has taught me way more than that.