Eat well while shift working
Eating well and having a balanced diet can help us lose weight, improve our health, give us more energy and lift our mood. We understand it can be tricky to eat healthy while shift working, and sometimes can be easier to opt for more convenient alternatives. But there’s no reason why these options can’t be nutritious, delicious and just as easy!
Here are some simple tips and tricks inspired by WW shift worker members to help you eat healthier while shift working:
If you struggle to find time to prepare meals, or are looking for convenient options:
- Keep ‘go-to’ foods on hand so you can quickly prepare a simple, healthy meal like canned tuna, salmon or legumes, instant rice or steamed vegetable pouches, as well as quick flavour additions like dried herbs, spices and sauces. These ingredients are great to have on hand as they’re convenient and have a long shelf life, meaning you can keep them in your pantry or desk drawer for when you need them.
- Plan ahead each week. Not only will it help you to stay on track and make healthier choices, it will also save you time, money and reduce food waste too! Simply set aside some time (15 minutes is all you need) to plan what meals and snacks you’ll eat for the week ahead. A great way to do this is by using the meal planner tool in the WW app, as it also calculates your SmartPoints for you to help you stay on track with your Budget. Also, take note of what you already have in your fridge and pantry, then write a list of what you’ll need to buy before you head to the supermarket. You may also find the ‘What’s in your fridge’ feature helpful, as it recommends recipes you can make based on the ingredients you already have on hand.
- Make time for meal prep. Once you’ve purchased all your ingredients for the week, consider what you can prep to save you time. Whether it’s simply cutting fruit and veggies, boiling eggs or preparing midweek meals, there are so many different ways you can prep ahead of time. Not only will it save you time in the kitchen, but will help you stay on track with your eating plan when shift working to support your goals
- Try batch cooking. This is a great way to ensure you’ve got healthy ‘grab and go’ options on hand, and can save you time in the kitchen throughout the week. On your days off, prepare a couple of meals in bulk that you can store in the freezer. See these batch cooking and freezer friendly recipes and tips for ideas.
- Consider WW Chilled Ready Made Meals. These are a great option for those unpredictable times, or when you haven’t had time to prepare healthy meals. Available at Woolworths, these meals can be heated in the microwave and are ready-to-eat in minutes.
If you prefer to snack rather than eat whole meals during a shift:
- Keep healthy snacks on hand such as nuts, fruit, roasted chickpeas, boiled eggs, low-fat cheese and wholegrain crackers, 99% fat-free plain yoghurt, veggie sticks and hummus.
- Take advantage of your ZeroPoint™ foods and enjoy them as healthy snacks on your shift - especially on days where you’re running low on SmartPoints.
- Another great option is to make snack boxes filled with foods that you can eat on the go. Add whatever foods you have on hand, mix it up, try alternating combinations and keep it interesting. See Anna’s 8 healthy snack box ideas for inspiration.
If you’re tempted by foods in the workplace:
- Aim to carry WW sweet and savoury snacks on hand. These are low in SmartPoints and can help keep you on track with your daily SmartPoints Budget. Another option is to prepare some healthier treats in advance and freeze them for those times you just feel like indulging. A good recipe for this is Anna’s salted caramel and coconut bliss balls. This way, when you see those less healthy alternatives laying around the workplace and the cravings strike, you have a fall back that will be just as satisfying.
Hear advice from WW shift workers Shellie and Steve on how to successfully eat well:
Shellie is one of our WW Coaches and was previously a flight attendant for seventeen years and a resort worker for another five years.
“Always have a stash of ingredients at home that you can use in preparing easy meals, for those times you get called into work or are too tired to cook! I can pop a rice and vegetable pack in the microwave for 2 minutes, open a tin of legumes or tuna/salmon, add some dried herbs or chilli and have a delicious and healthy meal ready quicker than takeaway!”
Steve is one of our WW ambassadors and has been a shift worker for seventeen years, currently working on contract with the Defence Force.
“It’s very important to meal prep, prepare and cook in advance so you are not trying to work out what to eat when you’re tired or already really hungry. I always plan on my days off and ensure I have my meals cooked. I also work in 3-day blocks for shopping and prepping as it's just easier this way. When I am on night shifts for the weekend, I have fourteen meals I have cooked in my freezer and I bring one each night.”
“I make sure that I always have lots of snacks with me that are low in SmartPoints. I like to buy WW snack products as I can have both sweet and savoury options on hand. I bring WW chips, as well as popcorn, fruit and yoghurt. I would rather come with a lot of WW friendly snacks than be working with nothing but the chocolates and chips for sale in the social club.”