Reflecting on 2019 – 3 Things

Something to ponder as another year draws to a close, and we get ready to embark on a new one.

1. Do more of what’s working
2. Stop doing what isn’t working
3. Try new things to see what does work

What new things and changes are you going to make in 2020?

Audra x

Weight Loss and Shift Work:

Why It's So Hard To Achieve When Working 24/7.

doctor is showing clock and fruit to patient to change eating habits know

As we say goodbye to another year and welcome in the arrival of a new one, the words “New Years Resolution” and “Weight Loss” seem to go hand in hand with one another … each and every year.

But why is it that so many people struggle to lose weight when working 24/7?

Is it because we have little motivation to get up and exercise?  Or perhaps it’s because we lack the energy to cook our own meals and become reliant on quick and easy processed foods, takeaways and anything else that is loaded with sugar?  Or maybe it’s because we’re awake for much longer which leads to us eating more?

All of these are certainly valid possibilities given sleep deprivation forms such a huge part of a shift worker’s existence.

But what if there was another reason?

What if there was something else going on inside our body that has nothing to do with willpower, but everything to do with sleep deprivation throwing our ‘hunger hormones’ out of balance?

Because this is exactly what every shift worker knowingly (or un-knowningly) has to face when working 24/7.

Sleep deprivation is essentially a type of endocrine or hormone disruptor which if we’re not careful, can cause havoc on our waistlines.  Whilst there’s a lot of emphasis in the media about environmental toxins such as bisphenol A or BPA, along with phthalates found in plastic containers being hormone disruptors (and rightly so given they can cause havoc on our oestrogen levels), little attention is given to how sleep deprivation can also alter our finely tuned endocrine system.

Two of the hormones which become impacted as a result of lack of sleep include leptin and ghrelin which play a huge role in appetite-regulation.  When working correctly, leptin sends signals to the brain telling us when we’re full, whilst ghrelin let’s us know when we’re feeling hungry.

The trouble for shift workers (and anyone else who may be struggling with insomnia), is these hormones don’t function as they should when we’re running on limited sleep which can lead to overeating and subsequent weight gain.

This was illustrated in a study of over 1000 sleep-deprived subjects where disruption to appetite hormones equated to an increase in food consumption equivalent to 350-500 k/cal per day, most notably in the form of snacks made from carbohydrates.

In other words, we’re more likely to consume calorie-dense foods like cake, pasta, bread, potatoes and pizza when we’re running on little sleep, making it somewhat challenging for anyone who is trying to lose weight.

But I want you to know that it doesn’t mean you’re destined to become overweight, just because you work 24/7.  If this was so, then every single person who works shift work would be overweight which is not the case.

Sure, it definitely makes it harder knowing that your body is “playing tricks” on you by sending skewed appetite signals, but you can avoid becoming another weight-gain-statistic by simply implementing the following strategies:

  1. Understand that your hunger hormones will occasionally send you “skewed appetite signals” – in other words, telling you that you’re hungry when in fact, you’ve had sufficient amount of food to eat.  More often then not, you’re probably dehydrated so always reach for a glass of water first before tucking into some food.  If after drinking a full glass of water you’re still hungry then, and only then, have something small to eat.
  2. Watch the timing of your food intake.  Our digestive system is essentially “sleeping” between midnight and 6am, meaning the pancreas secretes less insulin and gastric emptying slows right down so food intake should be kept to an absolute minimum during this time frame.
  3. Constipation is one of the leading causes of weight gain, so make sure you include plenty of high-fibre foods in your diet such as fresh fruit and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, grains and seeds.  Fibre, along with adequate water intake helps to ensure toxins and waste products are removed from the body thereby preventing inflammation which is a major contributor to chronic disease – one of which includes obesity.
  4. Increase your intake of high-protein foods as they help to keep you feeling fuller for longer.  For example, grass-fed beef, organic free range eggs, cottage cheese, wild fish and organic chicken can help to prevent overeating and may even help you lose weight.
  5. Increase your intake of healthy fats as they take longer to digest, thereby leaving you feeling fuller for longer.  For example avocado, full-fat yoghurt, nuts and seeds such as chia, coconut oil and salmon.
  6. And last but not least – always, always, always have healthy snacks on hand when on shift so that you don’t succumb to the magnetic spell of the vending machine which as we know, can often be our nemesis when working 24/7!

So here’s to fighting the shift work bulge the healthy way in 2017 by nourishing our body instead of depriving it, and being one step ahead of our hunger hormones so we don’t fall victim to their skewed signalling!

Happy New Years everyone!

Audra x



Broussard, J, Kulkus, J, Delebecque, F, Abraham, V, Day, A, Whitmore, H & Tasali, E 2016, ‘Elevated ghrelin predicts food intake during experimental sleep restriction’, Obesity, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 132-138.

Cagampang, F & Bruce, K 2012, ‘The role of the circadian clock system in nutrition and metabolism’, British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 108, pp. 381-392.

Laposky, A,  Bass, J, Kohsaka, A & Turek, F 2008, ‘Sleep and circadian rhythms: key components in the regulation of energy metabolism’, FEBS Letters, vol. 582, no. 1, pp. 142–151.

Ulhôa, M, Marqueze, E, Burgos, L & Moreno, C 2015, ‘Shift work and endocrine disorders’, International Journal of Endocrinology, vol. 2015, pp. 1-11.

Shift Work Diet: Why Your New Year's Resolution Should Be To Change It In 2011.

If your New Year’s Resolution is to change your shift work diet, then now is certainly as good a time as any.

Because if you’re like me, then you’ve probably spent much of the festive season eating way too much food and doing very little exercise, all at the same time.

In fact as I ate that last bite of Christmas trifle, raspberry jelly and creamy vanilla ice cream, you could almost here the sigh of relief amongst the members of our household.

Firstly because we were finally able to create some much needed space in the refrigerator, and secondly because we could now return to a much healthier and more regular eating plan.

Now don’t get me wrong.

As a shift worker, my diet over the years has certainly been far from perfect. But if you’ve noticed that your pants have slowly become much tighter and that you’re struggling to do up the buttons in your jacket or vest, then 2011 might be the year for you to change.

You see whenever you overeat, it disrupts your sleeping patterns. Basically the more you eat, the more sleep you require which is not good news if you’re a sleep deprived shift worker.

So the next time you go to bed on a stomach full of rich Christmas goodies (and dare I say delicious), just remember that you’re more likely to experience difficulty falling and staying asleep, because your body has no idea how to break down this type of food.

So as we say goodbye to Christmas and turn the corner towards 2011, I would like you to get out your notebook and start writing down those New Year Resolutions.

And if one of those resolutions is to lose weight – then congratulations for making that decision and taking the first step.

Of course it’s important to point out that if you’re serious about wanting to shed those unwanted kilograms, then you’re going to have to start doing things differently than what you’ve been doing over the past year.

Quite simply, if you want things to change, then you are going to have to do something different than what you’ve done before.

But it all starts my making a decision. Making that New Year’s Resolution commitment that your shift work diet can and will improve for the better in 2011. After all, nothing is as important as your good health.

Happy New Year!

Why A Dusty Old Push Bike Should Not Stop Your New Year's Resolution

At the beginning of every New Year, millions of people around the world excitedly set out to achieve their ‘New Year Resolutions’. You know what I mean, things like losing weight, getting fit and healthy, changing jobs, starting a business … the list goes on. .

So what is it about the New Year? .

Realistically it’s just another day but for some reason because it sits at the top of the calander year, we go into a mad frenzy of writing out new goals and committing ourselves to New Year Resolutions. .

And I must admit, I am indeed no different. In fact one of my New Year Resolutions is to get fitter by going out and experiencing new activities that I haven’t tried before. After all, variety is the spice of life – so they say! .

So yesterday afternoon not only did I go for a paddle on a kayak, but I dusted off my push bike and took it out for a ride. Now when I mean “dusted off” – I mean quite literally. You see, I cannot remember the last time I took it out for a ride. In fact the tyres were completely flat, the dust had stuck to the paint work like cement, and it took me 45 minutes of digging around under the house to find my helmet! .

But like most people, I was committed to starting the New Year off with a bang and so with the help of my hubby, both my bike and I emerged onto the footpath ‘bright eyed and bushy tailed’ and raring to go! .

Now as you can imagine after months of neglect, my beloved push bike was somewhat ‘out of fitness’. (It couldn’t possibly be me … it must be the push bike.).

And at this point I was certainly grateful to live in a flat suburb of Brisbane, so we were able to glide around the streets together with a fair amount of ease. But that was until we turned a corner and came across a hill which happend to be in the way of my destination – very inconvenient might I add! .

Lucky for me though – I’m not one to give up easily. As I felt my muscles burning from lack of exercise, I kept my head down and focussed on getting up that dreaded hill because I was going to get to the top – no matter what. .

So as you endeavour to go about reaching your goals and New Year’s resolutions, you will no doubt come across many road blocks, challenges and frustrations that will try and stop you in your tracks. .

And that’s OK, really it is. Just be prepared to tackle the obstacles and distractions as they come up in your daily life, (just like I did puffing and panting to get up that hill on my dusty old push bike) – because when you do reach the top and achieve that goal or New Year’s Resolution you’ll be so glad that you did!.

P.S – Which means that you’ll be able to set an even BIGGER one for 2011! Anyone for skydiving?