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Working night shift and eating-how do you do it?

Nurses   (22,725 Views | 20 Replies)

1,151 Profile Views; 31 Posts

To all the night shift nurses, this may sound like a dum question, but what are your eating habits when you work night shift? I have been told by several people that working night shift tends to put on the lbs. Currently, as a nursing student in an accelerated program, I have put on some weight, not by overeating, but by a rather inactive lifestyle. (I was a gym freak prior to starting nursing school).

I will be starting my new job in October and after orientation will be doing the 7 PM-7AM shift, and I don't want to gain any more weight, in fact I want to try to lose weight and get back into shape. I am just not sure how my body is going to adjust to doing nights. Any suggestions on how you eat, exercise when working 12's/nights would be wonderful!

Thanks everyone!

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memphispanda is a RN and specializes in Med-Surg.

810 Posts; 6,995 Profile Views

I work 7P-7A...I haven't gained weight. I don't think I have lost any either, but I do think it's rearranging itself a bit LOL.

Anyway, remember that you will be living sort of backwards from everyone else...

I get up around 4:00pm and shower pretty quickly. Then I stumble to the kitchen and discover 3 hungry children who want to eat supper. So we usually eat supper type foods around 5 or 5:30. And I'm usually wishing I had a bowl of cereal or some toast and eggs.

Go to work...work work work. I usually eat somewhere between Midnight and 2 depending on how the night goes. If I didn't manage to eat much at supper (which is often the case because my stomach hasn't really woken up) then I may get hungry earlier but the chance to eat before Midnight is rare. Oh yes--we pretty much have to take our own because the cafeteria is closed.

If I get to leave on time, then sometimes I will run down to the cafeteria and grab breakfast for myself and my 5 year old (the other kids don't like the food from my work, but he does) and I'll usually eat around 7:45 at home. I don't like to eat a lot of food at this time of day because I feel pretty rotten if I sleep on a stuffed belly.

Exercise...well, I usually get plenty of that from running up and down the hall and moving patients. I do try to get the back part of the hall as often as I can because that increases my walking during the night.

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jeepgirl has 4 years experience as a LPN, NP and specializes in Pediatrics, Nursing Education.

851 Posts; 7,198 Profile Views

huh. i've never heard that.

oh wait, yes i have. from day shift nurses who think night nurses are lazy!

they forget the increased patient load nurses at night usually take.

night shift can work just as much if not more than days, running up and down the halls.

usually, i eat supper with my family, eat around 12-3 depending on the night, and then i eat breakfast with my family.

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Tweety has 28 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac.

4 Followers; 29,036 Posts; 49,671 Profile Views

If I've gained any weight it is from overeating, not from working nights.

I make sure I eat a big healthy meal prior to my shift. Usually it's dinner type food meat, beans, tofu and veggies. Then snack on fruit, and another good lunch. When I get home it's a bowl of whole grain cereal or eggs. So I'm eating backwards, but it works.

A lot of night people tend to eat an extra meal some days. Especially on days when they are up during the day, the have lunch, dinner, go to work and eat through the night, so that puts extra calories and weight. Also the food selection in some cafeterias at night is poor quality. To me, appetite control by eating well and large before 7pm is the key. Good luck!

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renerian is a BSN, RN and specializes in MS Home Health.

5,693 Posts; 15,558 Profile Views

I lost alot of weight on nights. I could not eat at all. I would get sick. Could not eat at night, could not eat during the day. Ended up drinking supplements.

renerian

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31 Posts; 1,151 Profile Views

I lost alot of weight on nights. I could not eat at all. I would get sick. Could not eat at night, could not eat during the day. Ended up drinking supplements.

renerian

That is terrible. Did you have to quit nights or did your body finally adjust? Or did you have to keep drinking supplements?

All of these posts are helpful. I am one that doesn't snack generally and I try not to eat after 8 PM, but I guess that will change. How about exercise? I used to go to the gym and lift and do aerobics when I worked a M-F 8-5 job and I found I had a lot more energy. I know some gyms in my area offer am classes, but will I have the energy to do this after a 12 hr shift? What have you found helpful as far as working nights and exercise?

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109 Posts; 1,810 Profile Views

I usually will wake up around 2 or 3 pm on my nights to work (later if I've worked the night previously), and grab a light snack - sandwich, etc. Nothing too big, because if I have a big breakfast, I'm famished again in about 3-4 hours. That would have me hungry in the middle of assessments and med pass. Not pretty.

Go into work at 7pm; our cafeteria opens at 1 am. I'll snack on saltines or hit the vending machine if I can't make it until that time. Eat a moderate sized meal from the cafeteria, then once I get home around 8 am, I'll have a bowl of cereal.

Days off are bad. I have a tendency to eat if I'm bored, and that happens frequently when you're up late at night while family and friends sleep. Its a perfect time to do some yoga or quiet exercise, and do light housework. But 12 hour shifts usually mean you only have to be there 3 days a week, which will leave you with decent time to go to a gym if that's your thing. Someone I work with goes straight after work if they're not back in that night - less crowding.

And I'll agree that you'll get plenty of execise while you're at work! Passive ROM on a patient qualifies as weightlifting to me! :p

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zambezi is a BSN, RN and specializes in CCU (Coronary Care); Clinical Research.

935 Posts; 10,668 Profile Views

I usually wake up around 4-5 (I have to be at work by 630 and I like to take my time...) Before I go to work, I eat two eggs...I grab a coffee on the way to work...At work I snack of fruit (apples, banannas, nectarines,etc) roughly about one piece an hour starting 2100 or so--depending on how busy I am. I eat dinner about 1 in the morning. I lost weight when I first started working...but have put on a couple of pounds since I started eating the cafeteria food--its all fried (but yummy at one in the morning) So I have been going back to eating soup and sandwiches. If I am hungry at six or so I eat a yougurt or some crackers. I always have a bag of low fat popcorn on hand in case I am really hungry--it save me from eating worse junk food. I get around around 730...I eat ceral or a bagel and sleep again unit 4-5 and start over!

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Marie_LPN, RN is a LPN, RN and specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

12,126 Posts; 32,663 Profile Views

I ate toast or oatmeal and fruit. Eating something too heavy left me feeling lousy.

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mariedoreen has 3 years experience and specializes in Med-Surg.

819 Posts; 4,251 Profile Views

Re exercise: I know you're looking for input from those who actually work nights, but here's my .02 anyway ; )

I would probably forget about exercising on the days I'm working the 12's (or do only a very minimal amount) and exercise seriously on my days off -- you're going to get 3 or 4 of those a week right?

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194 Posts; 3,650 Profile Views

I have just started a night job. Not nursing, still in school, and I will say that I have not really gained. Although, I have noticed that my weight yo-yos by about 5 lbs. When I am working it stays down but when I am off I spend so much time with family and friends because that is the only time that I am on their schedule. And, we seem to always be eating out when I am with them.

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KaroSnowQueen has 30 years experience as a RN and specializes in Telemetry, Case Management.

960 Posts; 11,300 Profile Views

I have to say I gained weight on nights. Every place I've ever worked, all night shift did was eat and bring in food and order out and eat some more. In between pts of course. I ate all night, slept all day and didn't feel like exercising. Night shift didn't agree with me.

Now I work days and am managing to lose weight. Finally!

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