Bloated? Tired? And still need to pack your “lunch” for night shift? There’s nothing like trying to be prepared when you don’t even feel like eating and haven’t had your pre-work coffee yet.
Bloating is one of the most common complaints noted by shift workers specifically those on a rotating roster. Not only are you working when your body knows it should be sleeping, but you are eating when your digestive system should be resting. Biological circadian rhythm dysfunction has been associated with gastrointestinal disturbances, like bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
So here is some go-to foods for you to have in the fridge or pantry to help reduce the bloat and grab quickly before starting that dreaded dog watch shift.
- Peppermint Tea – Do your gut a favour and ditch the coffee for a peppermint tea. Peppermint is used in herbal medicine as a carminative; which helps to relieve gas, a spasmolytic; which help to calm smooth muscle spasms, and cholagogue; which helps to expel bile. All of these actions make it perfect for supporting the digestive system plus it’s so easy to find! Everywhere sells peppermint tea, or you can pick the peppermint straight from the garden and make a tea from the fresh herb. My favourite tea bags are Pukka Three Mint.
- Smoothie – Another drink but trust me there is some foods on this list too. Smoothies are easy to digest, mostly because the manual process of chewing has already been completed for you by the blender. Your body doesn’t have break the wholefoods in the gastrointestinal tract. Plus you can pack a smoothie with all the major food groups protein, fat and high fibre carbohydrates. Add your daily servings of fruit and vegetables in one drink, that can be taken with you and consumed later on in the shift.
- Water kefir – this beverage is probiotic which means it contains a blend of beneficial bacteria and yeast. Some of the bacteria families found in this particular probiotic drink include Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Streptococcus and Leuconostoc. These microorganisms strengthen the immune system in the gastrointestinal tract and can help reduce digestive upset. Water kefir is not as easy to come by as some of the other foods on this list, so look for it in your local health food shop or try making your own at home. My favourite brand of water kefir is Peace, Love, Vegetables Coconut Kefir.
- Soup – Yes even in summer. Soup is a great tool for night shift “lunches”. The already cooked meats and legumes make the protein easily digestible. Make sure that the soup contains lots of vegetables, so you’re not missing out on your high fibre carbohydrates. Its a quick grab and go meal, a wholefood canned soup from your pantry or the shops on the way to work. Alternatively if you are a master chef and have done your food prep for the week you can grab it quickly from the fridge on your way out the door. See my recipe here for Family Chicken, Veg & Oatmeal Soup.
- Yoghurt – Another probiotic food but this one is a bit easier to find, and you can even add this to you smoothie or soup if you like. Avoid the flavoured ones, stick to a plain natural yoghurt like vaalia or greek yoghurt. The strains you will find in yoghurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which are not specific to bloating however they do have therapeutic properties for relieving diarrhea and supporting the balance of bacteria in the large intestine.
Bonus; these foods are all budget friendly!
Ok so your eating these five foods and still bloated what do you do now? Firstly go see your GP – we need to rule out any major gastrointestinal issues and they’re going to be the ones to diagnose these.
Secondly food intolerances and enzyme activity need to be a consideration here. Book an appointment to discuss your options for dietary regimes, supplementation, or intolerance testing, to discuss which food/s may be the cause of bloating for you.