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Starting nights, what to eat?

Nurses   (6,690 Views 15 Comments)
by mrod mrod, LPN, LVN (Member) Member

mrod is a LPN, LVN and specializes in ICU/CCU/SICU.

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I am recently a new grad and I am starting 12 hour nights. What do night nurses eat and when? I heard that you are most likely going to gain weight eating when you do nights but how about if you eat reasonable and good?? I figure a regular supper around 11 p and then snack on fruit or something.

What does everyone else do?:nurse:

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I am recently a new grad and I am starting 12 hour nights. What do night nurses eat and when? I heard that you are most likely going to gain weight eating when you do nights but how about if you eat reasonable and good?? I figure a regular supper around 11 p and then snack on fruit or something.

What does everyone else do?:nurse:

I've heard of that night-shift weight gain too, but honestly I'm so darned busy I hardly have time to throw anything down my throat on my nights on, I've LOST weight!

For the most part, I guess, I wake up from my day's sleep before my shift and eat cereal (I don't like a heavy meal no matter what time of day it is, if I've just woken up from sleep). I go to work, and try hard to get something to eat before the "night" part kicks in, sometime late in the evening, around ten. I do this by packing something easy to heat-and-eat, or something that can stay cold in the fridge: salads, sandwiches, yogurts, like that. If I'm being bad (haven't planned a thing), I'll hit the "real food" vending machines that sell the same things (NO CANDY!!!). Or will place a delivery order with some co-workers for hot food delivered to unit before they close.

Snack on popcorn overnight. Easy to make and grab on the run. Microwaves are wonderful :)

When I get home in the morning, usually am hungry (since I haven't eaten in several hours) so I'm just as likely to eat leftovers from my family's dinner as breakfast items.

The key to not porking out? Eat when you're hungry, reasonable portions and reasonable choices, like everyone else. Avoid the candy-cookie traps. Drink water!!

On my nights off, I wish I could say I was as conscientous as when I'm at work, LOL....that's when I'm most likely to make bad food choices but hey, I'm human :) And, as always with ANYONE on their days off, remember not to "boredom eat". Are you hungry? EAT. Not hungry? DON'T.

Night shift gets the bad rap for getting chunky because it can be harder to FIND those good choices. If you don't have a "healthy" vending option, try to get GOOD food delivered (think grilled chicken salads, not wings and fries). And of course bring real foods from home.

Good luck to you! I love night shift :)

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RNtigerEMT specializes in Cardiac, Med-Surg, now in ED.

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I started 12hr night shifts right out of school myself,( after my orientation period that is) and continued to work nights unitl I was laid off in November 06. Thats when I gained my weight. As far as eating, our cafeteria was open from 0100-0400, so dinner was unsually around 02-0230, thats if we had time to eat. Packing works wonders if you are concerned about what you eat, but its something I rarely did. Occasionally we would order out, but still didnot get to eat until 2300 or later. Microwaves are wonderful! Usually ordring out resulted in a salad or sub for me, but then my eating habits have never been the greatest. ;) Keeping my weight down has only become an issue in the last 5 yrs or so ( I hated turning 30). We ran our heineys off on my floor. Some girls did go to the gym after their shift.

We would do potlucks, veggie/fruit trays, chips/dip, and someone would usually bring in a meat dish. Then it was snacking whenever you had a few free minutes. Getting in an uninterrupted meal break was a blessing for us, can't tell you how many times I've had to reheat the same meal.

Good luck, and God bless

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Imafloat has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN.

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I usually eat a Lean Cuisine and some sort of sweet 100 calorie pack for dinner around 11-12. I try to get a break around 2-3 and eat an orange and drink some gatorade, it really picks me up. When I get home, if I am hungry I eat a piece of toast or a container of yogurt. When I wake up I have a snack. I make dinner around 4-4:30 so I can eat dinner with my family. I am notoriously bad on my days off about eating, I go out to lunch with friends, dinner, etc. My weight has stayed the same after 4 months on nights.

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I usually eat a Lean Cuisine and some sort of sweet 100 calorie pack for dinner around 11-12. I try to get a break around 2-3 and eat an orange and drink some gatorade, it really picks me up. When I get home, if I am hungry I eat a piece of toast or a container of yogurt. When I wake up I have a snack. I make dinner around 4-4:30 so I can eat dinner with my family. I am notoriously bad on my days off about eating, I go out to lunch with friends, dinner, etc. My weight has stayed the same after 4 months on nights.

LOL, after reading this I GOT hungry! I'm not overweight (really did lose weight the first six months on nights, then stayed the same), but I do tend to eat a fair amount over the course of a 24 hour day and I think I'd disappear if I stayed on this type of diet plan!

It's amazing what our bodies get used to, isn't it?

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I too look like a health freak while I am at work. I pack easy stuff like pb&j, grilled cheese and tomato soup, fruits, veggies, diet coke and water. People comment and say how healthy I eat, but I only eat that way because if I brought somthing heavy or buy somthing from the cafe I would fall asleep after eating.

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Hoozdo has 15 years experience as a ADN and specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections.

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I have been losing weight working night shift, and I am not the type to lose weight easily.

What I ate while I was losing at an alarming rate:

A sandwich while driving to work

At work a package of cheese and peanut butter crackers, a protein bar, and a banana......all between charting. Nothing when I got home from work.

What will maintain my weight:

A sandwich while driving to work

At work - a banana during report. Around 2:00 AM I bring out the meal I brought from home consisting of meat, potatoes (usually), and a green vegetable. It might take 2 hours to eat in between charting, answering call lights, checking alarms sounding off...but I eventually eat it. When I get home I have a fruit of some sort and go to bed.

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bigsyis has 24 years experience and specializes in ER, Occupational Health, Cardiology.

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:uhoh3: :nono: :( :zzzzz

I gained thirty pounds working night shift for 9 months, and I wasn't pregnant! However, our clinic was immediately adjacent to the cafeteria, and when the cooks had finished cooking breakfast, they would call the PM or EMT that worked with me, and they would go and bring back breakfast FREE every day. Needless to say, nights and I were not a good fit.

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iLovemyJackRT specializes in ICU.

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Hey MROD, i am in the same boat as you. I am going to be starting nights in about a month and I am scared of gaining weight. I see the way the breakroom looks when I come in at 7am ( i'm still on orientation )....it's seems as if every night is a diff. theme, ice cream sunday night, chip and dip night....It will take alot of self control...I'm anxious to see how I will do...I just don't want to keep eating to help stay awake....

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Roy Fokker is a BSN, RN and specializes in ER/Trauma.

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My typical week sees 3 12 hour shifts and one 8-or-12 hour shift extra.

For my 12s:

I want to make report by 1830, so I wake up by 1730 and have a medium breakfast (not light). Stop over at Subway (or make one at home) before hitting work. My floor is usually very chaotic between 7p - 11p. During this time I nurse my first cup or coffee (and/or soda).

After my midnight assessments/med passes etc. are done, I take a 10 minute breather, pee and wolf down my sandwich while charting/chart-checking at around 0100/0200 hrs.

If I'm lucky, I'm able to leave work by 0730-0830. Head home and throw something into the pot/stir fry and eat a decent dinner while watching DVR-recorded TV :D If I'm too tired to 'make something', I bake up a pizza or I eat left overs from my "days off" (days off is when I cook food by the bulk).

Pretty much my standard routine (for my 8s, I just start a little later). And I haven't gained a pound since I started working.

I don't eat candy, cake, pie, chocolates, ice cream etc. anyway - I haven't for the past 4+ years :) (I tell myself that I have "bad teeth" and eating "candy is bad for my teeth and I don't want to visit the dentist".... weird logic but it works for me!)

Now if I could cut down my soda intake at work and cut down some of the junk food from my days off, I'm reasonably convinced I'll actually start losing weight....

The only thing that irritates me about working nights is that somedays when you get off work, you don't want to do a damned thing but just go to a nice steak house and have dinner before going home to sleep - unfortunately, all you get is "breakfast" food wherever you go. Kinda sucks!

cheers,

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nursenpnk is a RN and specializes in MSICU starting PICU.

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I am a one year after new grad hehe and i have been working nites since oct and i have not gained a pound, just keep in mind your nites and says are flip flopped so you still need to eat, drink plenty of water and EXERCISE! it's amazing how crappy nurses tend to eat, I am a super health freak and and they all make fun of me, but it keeps me thin. Stick to fruits and veggies and other healthy choices and you will be fine! It's the junk food that gets you in trouble not the fact that you are eating at nite :-) Best of luck to you, be aware that your first nites you may find yourself sick to your stomach because you are not used to being up and eating at those hours, ginger ale helped me through that!

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RNtigerEMT specializes in Cardiac, Med-Surg, now in ED.

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My typical week sees 3 12 hour shifts and one 8-or-12 hour shift extra.

The only thing that irritates me about working nights is that somedays when you get off work, you don't want to do a damned thing but just go to a nice steak house and have dinner before going home to sleep - unfortunately, all you get is "breakfast" food wherever you go. Kinda sucks!

cheers,

I can feel that!!! This was before I started nursing school, but was on midnights at a local factory (ugh!) There was a local restaurant that catered to night shift workers. I could go in at 0730-0800 and get a steak and potato meal, and a beer. I loved this place, unfortunately, they closed down, owner retired. :o

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