How to Eat Well When Working Two Shifts in a Row?

7 May, 2018 ,

An SOSCuisine subscriber wrote to us to ask what she should be eating while working a double shift. Indeed, it is not easy to know what is the best way to eat when working for 16 consecutive hours. If these shifts take place partly at night, it becomes even more complicated. Fatigue, for some, can instigate sugar cravings. Should one eat 4 or 5 meals? Is it better to have 3 meals and several snacks? How can you avoid eating 3000 calories in one day? Our collaborator, dietitian Marie-Maxime Bergeron, answers this question below.
Healthy Meal Plans from SOSCuisine

This is indeed a very good question. I recommend eating as you would normally, this means 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. The only difference is that you’ll also add an extra mini-meal.

Here is a very straightforward example for one day:

Schedule Meal
2:30 pm Balanced Breakfast
4:00 pm: Start of the shift
7:00 pm Meal
11:30pm Extra Mini-Meal, high in protein
2:30 am Meal
5:00 am Snack, high protein
8:00 am: End of 2nd shift Snack

Eat breakfast as you normally would before going into work. About 5 hours after your breakfast, eat your first meal. Then, four hours later, have a mini-meal. It must be rich in protein to tide you over until the next meal and to avoid sugar cravings. Proteins can come from eggs, lean cheese, tuna or poultry. For example, you could eat a sandwich and raw vegetables.

Here are some recipe ideas for this extra mini-meal:

Turkey and Cheese Sandwich

Turkey and Cheese Sandwich

I recommend eating a snack 2-3 hours later. Again, it must contain protein to be filling enough to sustain you until your next meal. For example, you could eat a dozen almonds and a piece of fruit.

Finally, after your shift, I recommend eating your last snack such as a bowl of high-fiber cereal with fruit. This snack combination could even help you to fall asleep.

Fatigue is often present if you’re working a double shift day and it is normal if sugar cravings come up. However, if you make sure to eat every 4 hours, this should help maintain a stable blood sugar level, which will help to minimize sugar cravings. Lastly, don’t forget to drink enough water and to avoid consuming too much caffeine.

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Author

Marie-Maxime Bergeron

Marie-Maxime Bergeron

Registered Dietitian, RD at nutriconsult.ca/

Changing eating habits gradually and adapting to the needs of my clients is the cornerstone of my approach. Eating well for fun and for health is the goal and everything begins with a return to simplicity in our habits. I am a nutritionist and have offered counselling in nutrition for 10 years.

Marie-Maxime Bergeron

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