Managing Diabetes Magazine - diabetes
Eating Well During Shift Work
Managing diabetes at any time of day
Many people do not work traditional 9-to-5 jobs. In fact, three in 10 Canadians work shifts that are outside of the usual 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. working hours. Whether you work all nights, all evenings or a variety of different shifts, the timing makes it challenging to manage diabetes. Shift work disrupts your body’s internal clock. You may not eat or sleep at regular times. By planning ahead, you can control your blood glucose while you work shifts.
Have a plan
Talk to your diabetes educator, dietitian and pharmacist about your work schedule. These advisors can help you figure out the best times to eat, take insulin or medication, and test your blood glucose. Make sure someone at work is aware that you have diabetes and knows what to do if you experience low blood glucose.
Eat regular meals
- Help control your blood glucose by eating three meals at regular times each day.
- Have a snack if you are hungry or if you must go more than six hours between meals.
- Try eating your main meal before going to work, rather than in the middle of your shift. Plan for smaller meals and snacks while you are at work.
- Stick to the same schedule on your days off, if possible.
Brown bag it
Pack your meals and snacks at home, so you have healthy items available at work.
- Most veggies are low in carbohydrate. Try them in salads, raw with dip, or steamed.
- Include protein like chicken, fish, lean beef or pork, eggs, light cheese or cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, and beans and lentils.
- Use higher fibre grain products like whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.
- Limit foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar.
- Balance your servings of carbs, protein and fat. Half of your plate should contain veggies. Fill a quarter with grains and starches, and one with protein. These proportions are part of the Healthy Plate system.
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Cook extra food on days off to take to work later in the week. Use smaller containers to portion leftovers. Some items can be frozen for longer storage. Try some of the following ideas.
- Slice roasted pork or chicken for sandwiches, wraps or salads.
- Cook extra fish to make a fish taco.
- Toss together a pasta salad with leftover pasta, chopped veggies, canned beans or chickpeas, and and salad dressing.
- Make extra soup, pasta sauce, chili or stir fry.
- Cut up veggies and fruit so they are ready to add to your lunch bag.
Watch the caffeine
You may have trouble sleeping if you have too much caffeine at work. If you drink coffee or tea, have them early in your shift or try decaf varieties.
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Keep a bottle of water nearby to drink during your shift. Add flavour with lemon, lime, mint or cucumber.
Following these tips will help you eat well, feel better, stay healthy and have more success managing your diabetes while working.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2019, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 0S1 [DI_MDab15]