As a shift worker who eats 24/7, when was the last time you really listened to your stomach and ate only when you felt hungry?
Let me put it this way, when was the last time you experienced hunger pains? Last week? Last month? Or perhaps you can’t even remember at all.
You see every time you eat when you’re NOT hungry, you are causing havoc on your digestive system. It’s not ready for food. It doesn’t want food.
Of course the trouble with working shift work or any other type of irregular hours, you tend to eat whenever you can otherwise you may not get a chance to eat at all.
A hard cycle to break away from.
So let’s take a look at an early shift. You may start work at 0400 and not get a break until 0900 (if you’re lucky). That’s 5 hours into your shift (plus commuting time to work) where your body has received no sustenance to function.
Your fuel tank is quite literally running on empty!
Fortunately for you, your body can still function but it’s certainly doing it tough with little energy. In fact if you skip breakfast you are prone to compulsive snacking and over-eating later in the day.
And we all know where over-eating leads to. Weight gain – which is synonymous amongst the shift working community!
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Just because you have to eat at erratic hours doesn’t mean you have to gain weight. Yes it’s true! You don’t have to be subjected to years of weight gain just from working irregular hours.
And the solution is not about going on another “you can’t have this and you can’t have that” crazy diet.
It’s about listening to your body and eating only when you’re hungry … whenever you can. So if you’re at work and you sit down to your designated meal break and you’re not hungry, then don’t stuff yourself silly. Your body is telling you I don’t need a whole lot of food right now – so listen to what it’s telling you.
If you are full, then you are full. It’s as simple as that. You don’t have to eat everything on your plate (despite what your mother may have told you as a child) – just put down your knife and fork and stop eating.
There’s a growing phenomenon in Western societies around the world today where a lot of us are over-weight and suffering from malnutrition. That’s right – malnutrition. Not because we don’t have enough food to eat, but because we’re eating all of the wrong types of food.
Eating lots of small nutritious meals when you are hungry, (AKA lots of fresh fruits and vegetables which have not been fried, battered or nuked to death in the microwave) will not only help you to maintain and/or lose weight, but they will give you more energy to go about your day-to-day activities. Brilliant news if your life is constantly plagued with fatigue.
So the key to maintaining a healthy diet around the rigours of some pretty ruthless hours is to (whenever you can) listen to your body and only eat when it tells you it wants food. It really is nature’s way of keeping us healthy and trim.