For those who do shift work you will know it is all too easy to grab what you can, when you can just to keep going until you finish that 12 hour shift – chocolate bars, crisps, fizzy drinks, maybe the odd banana or apple here and there or a flapjack justifying it by saying “it’s healthy”. It is all too easy to run across the road to the local supermarket or newsagent and just grab as much ‘food’ as you can to have with your 23rd cup of coffee from a machine whilst you deal with the daily stresses that can occur in health care.
Not only is this not healthy but it gets expensive! This must end now!
I have always tried to lead as healthy a lifestyle as I can but over the past year or so I’ve been introduce to paleo and primal eating and they really spoke to me. The concept was introduced to me at my local CrossFit gym which I joined back in 2011 and find the two go hand in hand, however I found it very hard to eat strict or near strict paleo whilst doing shift work. The long shift hours and minimal sleep make you wonder towards the wonderful fluorescent glow of the local supermarket, like a moth to a flame, where every tempting treat possible is placed right in front of you near the check out which makes you put down your banana and cashew nuts and makes you reach for the sugar loaded, ‘chocolaty goodness’ knowing it will bring instant satisfaction and fuel you for a further five minutes before the sugar rush brings you crashing down again.
I never seem to learn.
But can it be done? YES!!!
Paleo eating with shift work can be done, though it requires three key things:
You need to think about what shifts you’ve got coming up and how much time you have either side (before and after) to prepare things. I get up that bit earlier before a shift starts so I can prepare some stuff fresh, like steamed vegetables etc, but most of the time it’s all prepared or cooked the night before and ready to go.
Eating the same thing everyday or the same sort of thing everyday get’s boring. Yes you may know exactly what the nutritional content is but flavour wise it will get very boring very quickly. Experiment on days off with recipes and see what works for you, recipe test and be adventurous. Have the courage to try, fail, try again and triumph over your successes.
Don’t get me wrong it’s tough, very tough sometimes to keep the energy for this ambitious project going. People will think you’re mad, the smells of other people’s non-paleo food will make you salivate like you’re a recovering addict but always keep in mind why you wanted to do this and why you are still doing it. You will slip up (as I have) you will think “what’s the point in all this?!” and have internal battles with yourself as you try in vain to pull your outstretched hand away from the biscuits, chocolate and ice cream at 8 in the morning after a long 12 hour night shift, which turned out to be 14 hours. And when (not if, because you will) slip up and go non-paleo don’t beat yourself up about it (like I do) because you need to remember that what you’re trying to do is fundamentally very hard, especially with all the temptation out there as a shift worker. Allowing yourself a ‘treat’ or ‘cheat’ once every week or two is not going to kill you and it will make managing the change that much easier. Just remember to get back up on the paleo horse afterwards and keep going.