REDUCING TINNIES OR WINES AFTER LONG WORK WEEK

Alcohol. Whether it’s at the pub with mates, or relaxing on the deck with a cheese platter, alcohol is a classic way to wind down after a long work week. Well I’m about to give you some facts that you might not like, but here we go. 

ALCOHOL IS NOT AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF THE DIET. It is high energy, nutrient poor and classified a depressant drug, which means it slows down the messages traveling between the brain and the body.

ALCOHOL SHOULD BE ELIMINATED WHEN ATTEMPTING TO LOSE WEIGHT. One of the biggest health complaints from shift workers is weight gain. If you want to lose weight and get back under that magic number that makes you feel healthy again then you need to quit drinking the booze. A big mistake that people make is to just increase their exercise to help with weight loss and do nothing else. Alcohol intake directly impairs rehydration and recovery processes when exercising regularly.

Current dietary recommendations for alcohol in Australia are:

  • Aim for two alcohol free days per week.
  • When drinking alcohol, try to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks such as water or soda water.
  • Try a wine spritzer with mineral or soda water instead of a full glass of wine.
  • If having a glass of wine, don’t fill it to the top. One standard drink equals 100mL (less than half a cup).
  • Avoid snacking on foods high in salt. Not only is too much salt unhealthy, but it can also increase the likelihood of having another drink.
  • Avoid pre-mixed drinks with added sugars. These are very high in both kilojoules and sugars.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with energy drinks. The caffeine reduces your ability to manage your alcohol intake. This can lead to a higher risk of alcohol-related harm.

Some other common complaints for shift workers include poor quality sleep, no energy, depression, brain fog. Keep these benefits of quitting in mind when you want to have those extra few beers or wines. Reducing your alcohol intake:

  • improves your mood 
  • Improves your sleep
  • increases your energy
  • improves your relationships with your loved ones
  • helps you perform better at work
  • lowers your risk of long-term health problems such as cancer and heart disease
  • saves you money
  • supports healthy digestion

Don’t get me wrong I love to have a few every now and again too. Reducing is only going to benefit you. Dry July and Sober February are a good place to start.

YOUR GUIDE TO QUALITY SUPPLEMENTS

This is something I am very passionate about. After 5 years of working in a retail health food shop and now practicing clinical nutrition, this is one of the most underestimated, important factors of nutritional medicine. Hence why this blog is longer than most of my others. So how do you know what supplements are good quality? 

First of all, look for the AUST L number in packaging of the supplement. This number shows that the product is included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The AUST L number is used for the prevention of diseases and health conditions. This shows that the supplement has been assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness or that the ingredients used in the supplement are all pre-approved, low-risk ingredients. Australian and some New Zealand product ranges, will specify this on the label. Know the difference between a supplement and a food product. Supplements will have a AUST L number and food products won’t. Food products are often sports health products and/or wellness superfoods. Get in touch if you have more questions about food products. 

Most Importantly! Be aware of buying supplements online. Supplements in Australia are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) whereas the laws for the consumption of products are different in foreign companies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They may be regulated differently due to dosage or ingredients, and it is best to consult your health care practitioner before buying online. I recently had a patient that was prepared to buy a supplement online for her 5 year old child that was not TGA approved and 5x the dosage that should’ve been given to a child that age. Please be careful. 

Where you can, support local business. Look to your local health food shop or compounding pharmacy. They will have qualified staff available to offer you expert advice. They will be able to direct you to supplements that offer scientific research articles with their products. (HINT: For other practitioners or retail staff this is usually in the product manual!)

Okay, so back to the labelling. Quality supplements will state on the label “free from gluten, dairy” etc, you should use this as an indication of what excipients are being used in the formula. These are the other ingredients, alongside the “active ingredients”, that make up the capsule, tablet or powder. Excipients can include anticaking agents, fillers, bulking agents and stabilizers.

When looking at probiotics supplements, they should list the genus, species and strain of bacteria on the label. For herbal formulations, they should specify the common name and the botanical name on the label, in case of adulterated botanical species, or renamed species. Labelling laws will require supplements to have specific facts such as active ingredients and dosage, but the more upfront a company is about the ingredients they use the more you can trust them to be providing you with a quality product. 

Now, let’s talk about pricing. Generally quality supplements are more expensive than budget products, this is because they have higher quality ingredients and those ingredients will cost more, hence the higher RRP. I always like to put this in perspective for people, you wouldn’t look at budget tools if you were an expert tradie and expect them to do the job you need to do, you would buy the best quality tools so you can be more efficient in the work you do. The body is the same, give it the best quality supplements in order for the body to effectively utilize the nutrients. 

Bigger isn’t always better, it’s how you use it. I’m talking about dosage of course! Some health food and pharmaceutical companies choose to give high doses, less often, and for some people this is quite effective and they have the research articles to prove it. I want you to know that you are an individual! You have a different dietary intake, health conditions, possibly medications, and genetic make up to those around you. Speak to your healthcare practitioner and they can help you understand the correct dosage and formulation for you. 

Still unsure about what to buy? Most brands will have a company contact number on the back of the product, call the company and ask some questions:

  • About the manufacturing process
  • Where they are manufactured
  • Where they source their ingredients for the formulation
  • For fridge products, how they maintain stable environments during transportation
  • Patented ingredients
  • If they can send you any research studies on their products

Ask for help. If you are unsure if the supplement is the right one for you please see your practitioner or ring the product company and ask if they have a practitioner on hand to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to contact your practitioner, if they have prescribed a product that you are not sure, is the right one for you. AND organise a supplementation review, if you are planning pregnancy, are pregnant, lactating, begin any new medications, or are undergoing any medical procedures. Click here to book your supplement review now.

HEALTHY CRIB TO GET YOU THROUGH THE NEXT 12 HOURS IN THE PIT

Well first of all define “healthy” – Australian dietary standards are a great guide, but EVERYONE is different. What is healthy for some may be a trigger to flare in symptoms to others. Not everyone should cut carbs or avoid meat, so I am going to teach you how to pack a healthy “lunch” for night shift.

Pick a protein you can tolerate – you know your body better than anyone else so listen to it.  If steak sits too heavy in your stomach or legumes cause gas and bloating, then try something else. You want a palm size worth in your crib box, that’s about 2 eggs, or 1 burger pattie. Don’t forget there’s a lot of variety you can have here mix it up. Don’t just have chicken every day. Try tofu, kangaroo, protein powder, nuts, chickpeas, venison, sardines, or tempeh. A variety of protein will keep you interested in your meals and nourish you with a range of different amino acids. 

Add your dark green leafy vegetables. Everyone needs to be eating more of these foods. Yes they are bitter and probably not the thing you are craving. Dark green leafy vegetables will provide you with a variety or B vitamins for energy to get you through the night. Try a range of different ones but here is a guide to start – rocket, broccoli, kale, mesculin, spinach, bok choy, and beetroot leaves. You can just buy a bag of big greens from the supermarket if you have to, but just get a good handful into your lunchbox. 

Top it off with some tasty, tasty fat. Healthy fats will keep your brain stimulated to concentrate until the sun comes up and it’s bedtime. You want to have around 1 – 2 tablespoons worth of fat in your meal. Favourites to include can be: 

  • Avocado or olives, that you can mix through your salad leaves
  • Olive oil, either fresh dressed over a salad or that you have cooked your vegetables and meat in.
  • Fish, two in one deal proteins and fats. Sardines, salmon and tuna are easy canned foods. 
  • Coconut, think curries and stews, mixing coconut cream with a variety of spices to make a delicious based for your protein and vegetables
  • Milk, another two in one deal with protein. This can be your coffee for the shift or in your lunch smoothie. Just avoid having coffee 6 hours before you have to go to bed.
  • Seeds, either added into your salad, blended in you smoothie, or mixed with your nuts

THAT’S ALL FOLKS! Keep it simple. Use a similar formulation for your day and evening shifts and you will soon see a dramatic change in your mood, energy and overall health. It might sound like a lot of food, so listen to your body. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. Just because it is smoko time, doesn’t mean you have to eat.

Dietary Analysis & DNA Testing for Nutritional Balance & Wellness

You eat every meal, you make sure you have your veggies, and try not to eat too many sweets. How do you know if you’re getting your ideal daily intake of all of your vitamins and minerals? Maybe you occasionally take a multivitamin incase. 

Well you can individualise your dietary plan using dietary analysis and DNA testing. So why would you want to individualise your diet. Because everyone is different. Yes, the government has recommended daily dietary intakes based on your age and sex, but those intakes don’t take into account your symptoms, weight, height, genes, medical conditions, medications or supplements. The same way that the paleo diet doesn’t suit everyone, keto diet doesn’t suit everyone and so on. Embrace your individuality and tailor your eating and health habits to improve your wellbeing and overall health.

Dietary Analysis: what is it and how can it help? Dietary analysis is an in-depth look at your nutritional status, and simple recommendations for bringing balance to your current diet. Dietary analysis involves tracking your diet over a 7 day period either via paper and pen or a diary tracking app. Based on this you are provided with a complete nutritional summary including a macro and micro nutrient breakdown, energy intake breakdown, recommended intakes and food sources.

Dietary analysis is a great way to make sure you are getting a variety of vitamins and minerals. Especially if you have excluded particular food groups from your regular diet. For example if you have decided to go dairy free and want to know if you are still getting your recommended calcium intake for the day. To see an example of a Dietary Analysis report click below.


Food diary keeping not your thing? Well that’s where DNA testing can be used  as an alternative or addition to dietary analysis. Did you know DNA can tell us a lot about our individual nutritional requirements? The interaction between nutrients and genes is referred to as nutrigenomics. Nutrigenomics is a fascinating area of science and dietary factors may differentially alter the effect of one or more genes SNPs to increase or decrease disease risk.

DNA testing helps to determine genetic factors that contribute to, without being the cause of, your body weight, vitamin needs and other aspects of your wellbeing. You’ll be guided to make dietary and lifestyle changes for a healthier life by choosing the nutrition and exercise regimens that are more in line with your genetic make up. And the best thing is that you can do the test at home, as it’s just a mouth swab that’s required. Get in touch to find out how to order yours. For a sample DNA Wellness report click below. 


Shoot me a message if you want to know more about improving you nutritional balance.

SLEEP FROM A BIOLOGICAL & EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever thought about how our sleep has changed compared to our ancestors? Well that’s what we’re going to be exploring for the last part of the Sleep Awareness Week blog series. 

We touched on some of the biological reasons why we sleep in Sleep Health Some Basics, summarizing the stages of the sleep-wake cycle. Quick recap sleep allows our:

– muscles and tissue to recover and repair
– immune system is activated and on a cellular level begins to modulate immune defense against infecting pathogens
– brain to grow and develop; through improving cognitive function, consolidating memories, improving creativity, improving problem solving and regulating emotions.

The mechanism that allows our body to do this is the circadian rhythm which is governed by multiple factors such as darkness, brightness, environment, genetics, hormones, and medications.

Well these biological functions have been a part of our gene expression and the homeostasis of our bodies since the age of man, caveman, paleolithic times. Science tells us that multiple genes play a significant role in our sleep and the neurotransmitter production for circadian rhythm and time of sleep. What this tells us is that according to our chronotype we could be early risers; “Morning Larks” or late night people; “Night Owls” because of our ancestors. Most people usually have a fair indication of whether or not they are larks or owls, however this is also largely influenced by their lifestyle and environment, which brings me to the evolution of sleep.

Back in caveman days people would wake and sleep with the sun, especially the young kids and the elder adults. Whereas the teens and young adults were left to guard the group from predators. The only other factors for circadian rhythm influence being the moon and seasonal temperature. Fast forward to today, we know that the first day 10 years of our lives we tend to be larks, then move into owl habits as young adults, and then as work/life schedule comes into play we switch back to larks and require less sleep as we age. The difference being that from birth we are stimulating our brains with light from homes, traffic, screens and technology, our work hours dictate our wake time and city life is 24/7. Ever notice that you sleep better when you’re camping out under the stars, away from it all.

Well this is why everyone is raving about sleep hygiene, meditation and reducing screen time. Eye masks, ear plugs, block out blinds, and blue light blocking glasses, all of these sleep hygiene products just for the reduction of stimulating lights from our modern lives. While we can’t change our modern day living, we can alter our small habits and use the knowledge of our chronotype to help increase productivity. Lark or owl, you can schedule your life to peak physical and mental performance. The down side to this is that some modern day professions such as rotating shift workers, means that we are required to compromise our physical and mental health by working outside our biological sleep time. 

Supporting every body system to the best of its ability, knowing your physical and mental limits, and acknowledging when you need help, is the best way to move forward if you are working against your biological clock.

SLEEP CONDITIONS AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM

There are many symptoms that you can be experiencing in relation to your sleep. Most of them can be fairly self explanatory but let’s just define some of the conditions associated with those symptoms. Once you can correctly identify what’s going on with your sleep then you work out what to do about it.

Insomnia is first on the list; this is when you have trouble getting to sleep also called sleep onset. When you go to bed, lay your head down on the pillow and close your eyes, it should only take 10-20 minutes to fall asleep. Insomnia can also be described as; once you get to sleep you have trouble staying asleep. So waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or because of the kids, then it takes longer than 20 minutes to go back to sleep.

Usually trouble getting to sleep is from an overstimulated mind. Think use of screens before bed, daytime stressors, anxiety, medications, or other drugs like caffeine. The spiral issue with insomnia is that once you have one bad night’s sleep, the fear and worry behind having another bad night and missing out on your recommended 8 hours, can be the trigger for the next night. Managing stress, anxiety and being mindful about your sleep hygiene everyday is the key to managing insomnia.

Snoring, it is so common, but no one ever thinks about it as its own sleep condition. Snoring is what happens when there is partial closure of the airway; reducing the flow of breath from the mouth or nose into the lungs. It’s loud and unpleasant, and can lead to some very annoyed family members. People often describe the snoring as worsening after drinking alcohol, this is because it relaxes the muscles in the throat causing the restricted airway. There are many off the shelf mouth devices designed to help reduce snoring but if you are a really heavy snorer then best to speak to your GP about an overnight sleep study.

Obstructive sleep apnea is complete closure of your airways so you lose control over your ability to breathe. Apneas often go hand-in-hand with heavy snoring and are usually picked up by family members witnessing the lack of breathing. Other symptoms of sleep apnea can include waking up gasping for air, waking up the morning after sleep with a headache or raised blood pressure. Treatment for sleep apnea is to use a continuous positive air pressure device, this creates an air splint to keep the muscles of the airway open. If you think you may have sleep apnea then best to speak to your GP about an overnight sleep study, test for snoring and sleep apnea at the same time. Win. Win. As snoring and sleep apnea are respiratory conditions as well as sleep conditions, nasal breathing exercise and techniques can be very effective for improving lung capacity.

The last condition I’m going to talk about is Restless Legs Syndrome. It’s described as an uncomfortable pain in the lower limbs which is worse at night. Everyone describes the uncomfortable feeling differently like pins and needles, tightness, pulling. A strong urge to move the limbs is often required, making it difficult to sleep and leaving you feeling fatigued and irritable. Muscular support such as massage, stretches, gentle exercise and warm baths can help relieve tension. Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies can be underlying factors for restless legs syndrome. Consider increasing your mineral intake in your diet or supplementing with magnesium.

Theses are just a few conditions to get you thinking about what your sleep might be telling you. Sleep affects all our different body systems, the conditions above describe how the nervous system, respiratory system and the musculoskeletal system can all be involved in a bad night’s sleep. Sleep hygiene is just one piece of the puzzle.

SLEEP NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

You can walk into any supermarket, chemist or health food shop and see a wall of supplements. You want something for sleep but where do you start? Well first of all, every brand out there will have their own formulation of a sleep supplement claiming that it is the best and don’t bother trying anything else. 

There are a number of well researched nutrients, herbs and patented plant and chemical extracts for quality NREM & REM sleep, onset of sleep, and sleep associated conditions. Supplementation should always be personalised and individual. What works for one person does not always work for another, despite the number of research papers done on that particular branded formulation. So before you start supplement shopping to improve your sleep, consider your associated symptoms. Maybe your poor sleep is caused by pain in certain muscles, or overthinking because you have had a stressful day, or urinary because you’re waking up regularly to use the bathroom, or that you are not feeling sleepy until a certain time. Consider your supplement dosage as well, biggest doesn’t always mean best. Some extracts are best taken in smaller doses more regularly and individual height and weight can help determine the ideal dosage.

Some nutritional supplements and their recommended dosage for you to consider:

Magnesium – One of the most popular ingredients in off the shelf sleep supplements. Magnesium functions in the body by promoting cellular energy production, inhibiting muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission and improving immune response. It is used therapeutically for restless legs syndrome, muscle pain, chronic fatigue, and insomnia. Magnesium comes in a variety of compounds such as citrate, oxide, orotate, glycinate, chelate, sulfide and chloride. Each compounded formula has its own therapeutic properties so getting the right one for you is key. Generally speaking for sleep related conditions look for a magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate in a capsule, tablet or powder. Dosing can vary for sleep support from around 300mg – 800mg a day. 

Glycine – Glycine is an amino acid that performs a variety of biochemical functions in the brain. It plays a role in memory retrieval, regulating neurotransmitters, immune modulation and reducing inflammation. Glycine can improve sleep quality of the NREM sleep stage, clear headaches and decrease fatigue from poor sleep. Glycine is usually found in powdered form and the safe recommended dosing is 200mg/kg body weight/day. Do not exceed 30g a day.

Tryptophan – Tryptophan is another amino acid but this one is the precursor to two important hormones. Serotonin; which is our happy hormone and melatonin; our hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Tryptophan can be used clinically to treat insomnia, anxiety and stress. This is the ideal supplement for the over-thinking mind that won’t let you get to sleep, day-time fatigue and low mood. Dosage varies greatly but 300mg/day can see a great improvement in most people, especially when formulated with b vitamins. Caution with supplementation with this one as it can interfere with some medications including antidepressants and oral contraceptives.

Last but not least I can’t talk about nutritional supplementation without discussing melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is released as part of the circadian rhythm as the body signals that it is time to sleep. Melatonin release is highest in the evening and lowest in the morning and cycles on a day-to-day basis. Melatonin disruption is particularly problematic for people who work night shifts. Melatonin supplementation is popular with travellers to combat the effects of jet lag and allow them to maintain sleep on long flights. In Australia, melatonin is not available to buy off the shelf, it is only available via prescription in pharmacies. This melatonin is a controlled release formula called Circadin. If you are interested in melatonin supplementation please contact your general practitioner.

To find out more about supplements for sleep, or to get the right formulation for you, send me a message via email or my socials and remember not every issue can be fixed with a pill.


LET’S IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH TOGETHER.

SLEEP HEALTH SOME BASICS

Let’s first discuss the sleep-wake cycle before we move into basic sleep health. Sleep can be broken down into stages and we cycle through each stage when we go to bed.  

Stage 1 is light sleep; this is when we can be easily woken, often referred to as the dozing off stage. Stage 2 is where our bodily functions begin to slow down, like our heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. In stage 2 our core body temperature also drops. The 3rd and 4th stages are extensions of each other. 

Stage 3 & 4 is the NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) stage where the body enters deep sleep and the muscles and tissue begin to recover and repair. The immune system is activated and on a cellular level begins to modulate immune defence against infecting pathogens. The NREM sleep stage is fundamental for brain growth and development, cognitive function, memory consolidation, creativity, problem solving and emotional regulation.

Stage 5 is REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) this is further deepening of the subconscious where we enter dream states. The brain is very active and continues processing information from stages 3 & 4 but in stage 5 the body is immobilized and the eyes rapidly move. 

Part of the sleep-wake cycle is circadian rhythm function. Circadian rhythm is a biological clock-like process controlled in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus part of the brain that sends messages to our body systems, telling us when it is time to sleep and time to wake up. Circadian rhythm changes are governed by multiple factors such as darkness, brightness, environment, genetics, hormones, and medications. An example of this is when our body temperature drops in the evening bringing on a feeling of tiredness and raises again in the morning to promote wakefulness. 

So with the sleep cycle explained here’s a few basic dietary and lifestyle interventions you can make to help support the natural rhythm of your sleep-wake cycle.

  • Listen to your body – if you are dozing off in the lounge chair it’s past your bedtime. If you are regularly needing to take naps during the day then you more than likely are not getting enough NREM and REM sleep. If you are waking up just before your alarm in the morning then you know you have had the right sleep duration. By listening to your own body signals you can determine the natural rhythm of your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Avoid caffeine 6 hours before your bedtime – caffeine disrupts the time your circadian rhythm signals kick in and, like most stimulating drugs takes time to eliminate from the body. It can remain in the body from 3-5 hours after ingestion. You may find caffeine doesn’t effect your ability to get to sleep, but it can prevent the body from reaching the deep sleep stages
  • Avoid blue light from electronic devices and fluorescent lights – power down technology 1-2 hours before bed and opt for dim warm light from lamps. Signals from the optic nerve can dictate the timing of circadian rhythms. Blue light has been shown to stimulate wakefulness, while low warm light signals darkness and sleepiness. Exposure to electronic devices and blue light can interfere with the amount of time the body spends in NREM and REM sleep
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re having issues with your sleep – talk to someone about it, seek professional advice. Sleep health is important to so many modalities of allopathic and complementary medicine. Pain, anxiety, dental problems, respiratory conditions, poor nutrition, and work lifestyle can all be reasons behind a bad night’s sleep. There are so many solutions to a variety of sleep concerns whether it is tea, ear plugs, snoring aids, dental appliances, herbal tonics, nutritional supplements, or meditation, they are there for your use and I encourage you to speak up if you would like to know more.

A HEALTHY START TO SHIFT WORK


Starting shift work and unsure about what to pack for lunch, when to eat and what to eat to stay awake? Well here is a quick guide to get you on the right track.

WHEN TO EAT

Eat your main meal before your shift, a smaller meal and snacks during shift, then a light meal or snack afterwards, preferably 2 hours before you go to bed. We don’t want you going to bed hungry but we also don’t want you going to bed on a full belly of food. The food we eat should be used to give us the energy and nutrients that we require a full meal before bed isn’t going to be used to give you energy, it will just be sitting sluggish in your digestive tract. When working, eat every 3-4 hours if you are hungry. Listen for your body’s hunger signs and be mindful that you are not just eating from boredom or to keep you awake. 

WHAT TO EAT

During your shift, include snacks that are high in protein like hummus with carrots, a handful of nuts and seeds, tuna with crackers, greek yoghurt with fruit. When having main meals, include lean protein (meat, fish, legumes), whole grain carbohydrates (sourdough, brown rice, wholemeal pasta or oats) and plenty of salad and vegetables. Fat is an important component of our meals for supporting different body functions, we just need to make sure it is in moderation and top quality. When having healthy fats in main meals make it quality sources like salmon, avocado, olive oil and olives.

WHAT TO DRINK

Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout your shift, often we are not hungry or tired we are just dehydrated, so increasing your water intake will help you to manage fatigue. Tea and coffee are ok for the beginning of your shift. Aim for a maximum or 2 coffees a night and avoid all caffeine 6 hours before bed. Herbal teas like mint, lemon and ginger are excellent throughout your shift. Just steer clear of the vending machine all together. If you need a sweetened beverage try a kombucha, fruit smoothie or fruit infused water. Avoid alcohol after your shift if you need to wind down, choose a soda water, sparkling grape juice, or chamomile tea. 

BE PREPARED

On your days off try to be prepared with meals and snacks for the week. Make meals in bulk and store them in the fridge and freezer for the week. This could include: chicken fried brown rice, shepherd’s pie, rissoles, soup, vegetable curry, or oven baked vegetables. If you haven’t prepared meals in advance, instead of eating at fast food restaurants, try making a quick, simple meals from the supermarket with BBQ chicken, cheese, pre-packaged salads and bread roll or a can of tuna/salmon, a packet of microwave brown rice & quinoa and a can of beans or vegetable soup.

EATING OUT

If you do end up eating out at a pub, fast food restaurant, or take away shop, try to choose meals containing lots of fresh salad and vegetables. Less fried foods, or bakery items. Choose the salad or vegetable option instead of a burger and chips. Remember that you don’t have to eat everything on your plate if you are full.

PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Include physical activity wherever you can walk up and down the stairs, take a stretch break in between shift change, go for a walk on your days off, go to the gym in the evening the night before you rostered on to do dog watch. Physical activity should be a daily routine whatever you can fit in whilst working long evenings is a bonus.

A basic beginning to the hard, challenging ongoing health condition that is work night shift and managing fatigue. Good dietary habits can set you up to succeed in maintaining a healthy weight, increasing energy levels and supporting overall health. If you have any current or ongoing health conditions get in contact for further strategies for achieving  nutritional balance.

For some go-to healthy meals download my recipe guide:


Five foods to help reduce bloating on night shift

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.