After spending a year in clinical practice chatting with shift workers from an array of different occupations, one of the things I noticed when undergoing individual dietary assessments, was how many of my clients would succumb to eating ‘comfort foods’ whilst on night shift.
Now if you’re a night shifter, then I’m sure this is something you can relate to.
And I completely understand why.
Night shift is tough. Really tough.
So when everyone puts money in to order a pizza, brings in a bag of lollies or cake to share, this ‘party food’ or ‘comfort food’ brings a bit of fun into the workplace, and helps to jazz up an often long and tiresome shift.
But nocturnal eating, or more specifically, eating out of sync to the body’s natural circadian clock can actually make us more susceptible to gut disturbances.
Things become even worse when we consume foods that are low in fiber, and high in simple carbohydrates (such as white flour, white bread and white rice), because the body converts these foods into sugar very quickly, leading to blood glucose dysregulation.
Sleep loss or circadian disruption is also a form of physiological stress that can disrupt the gut microbiota leading to intestinal permeability, otherwise known as ‘leaky gut’. This imbalance of gut microbiome can lead to low grade inflammation which, over time, can increase our susceptibility of developing chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease.
So gut health is absolutely key for anyone who works 24/7, which is why I’ve included this great gut healing alternative to take into night shift.
Introducing my heart-centred ‘Nourishing Night Shift Jellies’ … because every shift worker needs a hug – particularly when on night shift!
- 3 tablespoons of organic gelatin powder (I use the brand – Changing Habits)
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
- 1 tablespoon of organic honey
Mix gelatin with half of the coconut milk and leave to become gelatinous. Warm the other ingredients together in a pot on the stove, but on low heat. Don’t let it get to a boil.
Then mix the warmed milk in with the gelatin mix and give it a good stir with a metal spoon. Pour in to molds of your choice, and pop into the fridge to set. Keep stored in an air-tight glass jar in fridge.
Recipe inspired and adapted from @anourishingnook.
Reynolds, A, Paterson, J, Ferguson, S, Stanley, D, Wright, K & Dawson, D 2016, ‘The shift work and health research agenda: Considering changes in gut microbiota as a pathway linking shift work, sleep loss and circadian misalignment and metabolic disease’, Sleep Medicine Reviews, vol. 2016, p. 1-7.