What To Eat When "The Healthy Shift Worker" Becomes Somewhat 'Unhealthy' …

I’ve been a little quiet this week because this little “healthy shift worker” per se, became unravelled as I fell victim to the dreaded gastro bug. Now I know what you’re thinking – it’s not a particularly nice subject to chat about, especially if you’re getting ready to prepare dinner.

Don’t worry, I’ll leave out all of the juicy bits for you. Pardon the pun!

Anyway, what I will share with you is that my normal vibrant appetite waned considerably this week.

The thought of food, and even the smell of food sent me into a bit of a tizz as I felt constantly nauseous and couldn’t help but notice the rumbling sounds in my stomach gurgling away in the background!

And I have to say, for me to lose my appetite is really, really unusual because I never miss a meal.

Yep – that’s right. Never miss a meal.

In fact before this week’s bout of gastro, I couldn’t tell you when I last went without eating a meal. I just don’t do it.

I never ‘forget’ to fill up my car when it’s running low on fuel, so I like to think that I treat my body with even more priority than my car (sorry “Fifi” – my trusty Citreon).

However about Day 2 into my gastro adventure, I slowly began to get a glimmer of an appetite back (and I mean glimmer as I was by no means famished and desperate to sit down to a mammoth meal).

And this was it.

It’s called a ‘Liquid Lunch’ courtesy of the Raw Food Institute of Australia and it was just what I needed.

Whilst it may say ‘lunch’ you could technically have it at any time of the day (perfect for shift workers), and not only is it incredibly nourishing, it’s also gentle on my stomach .

‘Liquid Lunch’


1 large frozen banana
1/2 frozen berries
1 handful of baby spinach
1 cup of water
1 cup fresh coconut flesh
1bsp coconut oil
1 tbs acai powder


Blend on high for about 15 seconds and enjoy.

Health Benefits

The blue pigment in the skin of the Acai berry contains an antioxidant known to benefit the immune system and also help in the production of new cells. The fibre and enzymes in acai berries help digest food – perfect for those with gastrointestinal (GI) issues. Coconut oil possesses a gastrointestinal antioxidant which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the GI system.

Colds and Flu: The Shift Worker's Daily Challenge

As I sit down and type this article tonight, the temperature has changed from being warm and balmy, to somewhat crisp and cool. And as I battle the remnants of a head cold, it’s made me realise just how vulnerable shift workers are to falling victim to the dreaded cold and flu virus.

Really vulnerable.

As shift workers we rely on limited sleep and recovery time so it can be hard to stay healthy and fend off those uninvited nasties including a cold or flu. Our immune system is run down at the best of times so if there is any bug or virus going around – shift workers are usually the first to get knocked down by it.

But as we approach the early stages of winter in the Southern Hemisphere I have to admit, I’m really not a Winter person.

I’ve always been a bit of a warm weather girl. In fact my husband often calls me a lizard as I’m always seeking out a sunny spot to sit and warm up. And even though I feel the cold and know that warm clothes are going to keep me warm, the idea of actually going out to buy warm clothes doesn’t really tickle my fancy because it means that I have to admit that it’s actually winter.

Ahh … sigh. I cannot deny it anymore.

But that’s what I want to talk about right now – the importance of keeping warm to ward off those nasty colds and flu.

You see, the common causes for both common colds and flu that can leave us vulnerable can be exposure to cold air or wind, cold, and seasonal changes from warm weather to cooler weather. The body has to adjust and get used to the drop in weather temperature and this can leave us a bit vulnerable to little bugs that could bring on a cold or flu which can be passed on.

So don’t be like me and try and keep warm in Summer clothes. Make sure that you rug up from top to toe and do more exercise. Yes that’s right – more exercise. Because exercise helps to boost your immune system and also heats your body up to keep you warm.

In fact there are even exercises out there that are really appealing during winter – for example Hot Yoga or Bikram Yoga. But just make sure that you rug up afterwards to avoid a chill.

So remember to keep warm during winter because it’s going to go along way into helping you beat the dreaded cold and flu – one of the many challenges associated with having to work shift work.

Shift Work Sickness – How A Change In Attitude Can Help Boost Your Immune System!

If you are someone that suffers from shift work sickness, have you ever considered that your attitude might be partly to blame? I’m thinking probably not, so you might be interested to know that optimistic people actually have stronger immune systems.

In fact optimistic people are 77% less likely to die of heart attack or stroke than pessimists, are less stressed, more resilient, tend to age better and even live longer.

Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?

You see as shift workers it’s really easy to be negative and miserable because we’re always feeling so darn tired all of the time, but it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.

Negativity drains people of energy which is not good – most shiftworkers are desperately crying out for more energy!

Negative thoughts are toxic. They release chemicals that are harmful to the immune system, deplete energy, speed aging and damage brain cells.

So as you can see, a negative attitude can literally make you sick!

Studies have also revealed that at least 75% of illness originates in the mind. Prolonged negativity leads to depression which releases more toxic hormones that further weaken the immune system and lower the body’s ability to fight disease.

Instead, people with a positive attitude bounce back faster when things get them down. Positive thoughts release serotonin which makes us feel good, aids memory and can even prevents brain damage.

Now the good news is that a positive attitude can be developed. Since we can change our thoughts, we can certainly change our attitude.

So stop complaining, criticising, and judging. It’s only going to make you prone to shift work sickness – and a person that nobody wants to hang around with.

If you’re constantly getting sick all of the time when you’re working shift work, try changing your attitude – you might be pleasantly surprised with the results!

How To Stop Cold And Flu Bugs In Their Tracks When You Work Shift Work!

If you’re a shift worker that is prone to catching anything and everything that goes around – don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Given the fact that lowering your stress levels and getting 7-8 hours sleep a night helps decrease your chances of catching colds – the odds are certainly against us!

So what are some simple things that you can do, that will help you to stay healthy and stop cold and flu bugs in their tracks?

Well to begin with, research shows a direct link between regular physical activity and improved immune function. This is largely due to the fact that when you exercise, immune cells circulate more quickly throughout your body and are more powerful in destroying viruses and bacteria.

In fact a study at the University of South Carolina in the US, looked at the relationship between levels of activity and the risk of catching a cold, and found that those who participated in moderate to high-intensity exercise four times a week caught 20 to 30 per cent fewer colds than those who exercised less or not at all.

Of course, moderation is the key. If you are sick then you need to take it easy and rest because you need to use all of your energy to fight the virus or bacterial infection.

But certainly having a good level of general fitness, particularly cardiovascular fitness, will boost your immune system and protect you from the nasties, particularly the cold and flu bugs!

However like with anything – it’s certainly not a guarantee.

And on the other hand, too much exercise will suppress your immune system with frequent colds being one of the signs of over-training.

So even though you may not have total control over your shift work health – particularly when it comes to your stress levels and the amount of sleep that you’re able to get (especially if you work night shift), just stay focused on the things that you can change – and exercise is certainly one of them.

Now talking of exercise, I’m off to dust off my treadmill and give it a workout right now! 🙂