Stay healthy not hangry through a 12 hour shift


By: Aimee Lovell RN, BSN
Diabetes Educator

As healthcare workers, we work to restore and improve the health and quality of life of our patients, often to the detriment of our own.  The 24-hour, 7-day-a-week shift -work this often entails, leaves us sometimes scrambling to find time to use the restroom, never mind take a break for healthy fuel. The consequences of inadequate nutrition go beyond feeling “hangry.”

Skipped meals can lead to hypoglycemia leaving us feeling tired, sluggish, weak and experiencing difficulty with concentration.  Not eating for an extended period of time can also make healthy choices harder when we do have time to eat.  We tend to go for carbs and sweets because those will raise our blood sugar and provide our brains with the energy they crave. Hello breakroom donuts!  Without a balance of protein, fat and fiber, the rise in blood sugar will be temporary leading to a dip all over again and a viscous cycle.  Here are some tips to keep blood sugar balanced at work.

Eat a healthy, balanced meal before your shift: Starting off your day with a balance of fiber, protein and healthy fats will keep your blood glucose even keel until your next meal or snack.

Preparation and packing:  Planning your meals ahead of time and packing healthy food ensures there is an adequate variety of food available and helps you avoid the convenience junk food.  For a 12 hour shift pack at least one meal and two snacks.  Eating a snack a few hours in, your meal around halfway through and another snack two hours before your shift is done should provide your body with the fuel it needs.

Leftovers are lifesavers:  Make extra portions of the meals you have at home for an easy grab and go meal for work.

Don’t forget to drink water: Staying hydrated helps us feel more energized and avoid dehydration brain fog.

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