Shifting your nutrition

Are you a shift worker or do you know someone who is a shift worker? Then you'll be pleased to know we have just the thing for you…


We've recently developed a resource for shift workerscalled Shifting Nutrition - A Shift Workers Guide to Nutrition.


Shift work can impact on the way you eat, and the types of foods and drinks you consume. Having a healthy diet is not only important for your long-term health and preventing chronic diseases, but it is also essential for maintaining your body's day-to-day function and energy levels. This booklet provides practical information to help you to make the right choices about what you eat - helping you to shift your nutrition and ensure you are eating the right foods, at the right time.


What happens to your body when you work shifts?

Your body has a 24 hour cycle (also known as your body clock) that helps to regulate when you wake-up, your digestion, hormones and many other functions of your body. This inbuilt clock is pre-programmed to respond to you being active during the day and asleep at night, so when you work shifts, your body can find it difficult to adjust.

When your body clock is disrupted, you may begin experiencing disturbances to your sleep, fatigue and potential health problems.

However, eating healthy foods at the right time can make shift work easier by providing your body with energy when you need it, assisting you to sleep better when you rest and helping to prevent fatigue.


Healthy eating guidelines for shift workers

Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day.

Aim to maintain a regular eating pattern, regardless of your shift:

  • Eat every three to four hours: aim for three main meals and two to three snacks in a 24 hour period
  • Eat according to the time of day: breakfast foods in the morning, lunch foods in the middle of the day and dinner foods in the evening
  • Late at night, eat snacks that contain protein instead of a large meal at a time when you would normally be sleeping
  • Eat a small meal after your shift so you don't go to bed hungry
  • Watch your portion sizes - make sure you don't overeat.


Choose healthy drinks:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Limit your intake of sugary drinks, alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before sleeping.


Want to know more? You can download the Shifting Nutrition resource here.