Dieting with Obstacles - Working graveyard shift

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10-16-2005, 03:35 AM
Okay, I realize working graveyard shift (1030 pm -630 am) is not a medical obstacle, but it is an obstacle in itself, so I decided to post this here. I work on the shift for a police/fire department as a 9-1-1 operator/dispatcher. Not only do I have the stress from the job, but I have the stress of not having a normal schedule or a "normal life". My problem is that I never know when to eat or workout. I'm not getting the correct amount of sleep during the day because everyone else around me, hubby, son, and neighbors all have a "normal life".

I get home and immediately fall asleep but am always awake by 11 or noon. Sometimes I'm hungry at this time and can eat but most of the times I don't eat until dinner time (normal 6 or 630 pm). I don't eat while I'm at work or if I do, its something very little because my stomach can't handle eating a lunch type meal that late, and then I don't usually eat anything when I get home because I'm too tired.

I try to walk in the morning when I get off ( I go to a high school track) but most of the time I don't go because I'm too tired from getting too little sleep the day before. I know some of my problem is I need to get off my lazy duff when I wake up and do a video or treadmill or something but the couch and books call my name (literally, I can hear them calling :lol: )

If anyone else works this shift, or has SO that work like this, how do you/they handle their time? Thanks for your help/suggestions


10-20-2005, 09:31 AM
Hi there, I too am a shift worker. This is rather neat, I too work for the city, I worked at the emergency communications center as a 911-operator/fire/police dispatcher for 4 years, and I totally understand the stress and bad eating & excersise habits. I work 12 hour shifts 2 days, 2 nights, then 4 off.

As far as eating goes:

Day shifts 7am - 7 pm - bring low fat low carb high protein breakfast have lunch at 1 pm, have a light snack of a fat free yogurt or something around 3 pm and piece of fruit have supper around 7:20 pm - supper is late but I find that works for me because if I eat supper at work when I get home I am in a snacking mood so I do better if I just eat when I get home. I will go for a 5km jog at night anyway.

During my 24hr layover from last dayshift into 1st night shift, I eat as usual, breakfast, lunch, light supper, and I pack a lite midnight snack of veggies, tofu 2- go items, fat free yogurt or whatever, and drink a lot of water.

2nd night shift, I eat a light supper before I leave for work around 6:00 pm, if I run out of time I will bring it to work and eat it when I get there, I bring a lunch/supper to have at midnight and have a lite popcorn snack around 3 am if I am hungry.

When I get home after my last night shift, I get up at noon, have a nice lunch around 1 pm go to the gym and have supper around 5:30 pm and I most like will have a snack later to.

It is hard to stick to a "don't eat after 7:30" rule when you are a shift worker. I just make sure I only eat when I am hungry and when the hunger pains are gone - stop. Get your daily cardio in and eat healthy and you will loose weight. Cardio is everything.

Hope this helps you out, let me know

10-21-2005, 02:01 AM
Thanks for your info, I have been discussing this with another co-worker and she also suggested eating light dinner/breakfast, then having lunch around midnight and then another light snack around 3ish. I'll try that and see how it goes.

10-25-2005, 02:14 PM
Pamintx - how did it go? did you find eating at midnight and lite snack at 3 ish worked for you? Do you like Soy products or tofu? You can get this tofu 2 go stuff, there are 2 little containers, I guess it would be like a yogurt, it is full of iron and very healthy, and it is very good for women to eat espcially those with RA. I really like them, you can get mango peach, key lime, coconut which is awesome and they are very filling so you are not hungry right after you eat.

10-26-2005, 10:07 PM
I have worked law enforcement communications mid-shift
for longer than most of my co-workers have been alive,
so I fully understand the ups and downs of bad eating
habits and sleep deprivation! Not to mention the temptation
to stop by the closest fast food joint on the way in to get
a burger, fries, and gigantic soda, believing that I would
probably work it all off during the shift. NOT!

So, here is what I forced myself to do.
I started buying huge amounts of frozen foods, not the
packaged ready to eat meals , but things like spinach,
corn, peas, green beans, potatoes, and soy burgers,
and I would put together my little plastic containers with one
burger and two vegetables, have containers ready to go for the next
five or six nights, and pick one up on the way out the door,
along with another container with frozen (it has to be frozen)
fruit such as strawberries or blueberries.

When I get to work, my lunch goes into the fridge, and my frozen
fruit goes out on the console with me. I start to nibble on my
frozen fruit (do you know how long it takes to have it melt down in the mouth
to where you can eat it comfortably?), and by the time I have managed
to get through half of my container of fruit, it's around 3am, so I can microwave my lunch, put what's left of the fruit back in the freezer at work,
and believe me, I've managed to lose 25lbs doing this, not to
mention how much money I've saved from bringing my own lunch
in, instead of giving in to the fast food temptations on the way in to work.

The sleep part, well, that's hard when you have a family around. Most of
the people I work with go right to sleep after work, and use earplugs and
blackout curtains on their windows to keep the outside world from creeping
in. Usually they get 6-8 hours of sleep that way. You just have to make
a strong rule that you are not to be disturbed during sleep time, and turn
the phone off. Oddly enough, getting enough sleep will actually help you in
losing weight if it's included with other things like food intake modification and

Well, that's enough of my preaching. Our choice of work does seem to
sabotage our efforts in decreasing our "secretary's spread", but with one
change at a time, it can be done. Don't give up!


10-27-2005, 02:05 AM
I really like the idea of the pre-packaging home cooked healthy meals. What good idea can't believe I didn't think of it myself! Oh well. I know that is probably 95% of my problem is the snacking and grabbing something quick. I am going to take one of my days off and just cooke stuff and try to be prepared for at least a week or two of meals.

Well, I am at work and my 20 minute break is coming to an end, so have a great night everyone.

10-27-2005, 05:55 AM
stegazilla and kelleen,
Ladies, Thanks so much for your responses. I try to prepackage my meals for work, but I think I'm putting more into my servings than I should be. I have been trying to keep up with my calories, but I haven't been real faithful in it. My main problem is that I'm not getting any exercise. Most of this mainly, is because I just need to get my fanny in gear and get moving. I have bought a radio walkman that attaches to my arm and is lightweight so I have some company on the track. My problem is that I can come up with a hundred reasons why I don't have time or I can't, but I ignore the main reason of why I HAVE TO. I think I need to have it tattoo'd on my forehead or a hand or something.

kelleen, the midnight eating and snacking at 3ish has helped a lot. I'm not hungry in the morning when I get off. There's only one other person here who eats early (12) so I'll usually go when she gets back 0030. It works for us.

thanks again ladies for your help,

11-03-2005, 08:39 PM
okay, I have worked every crazy shift you can think of but this works it really works I cook a months worth of meals and freeze them. It's a lot of work but oh it is so worth it. My best snack is water. it kills my cravings in less than a minute and I feel puffed.
I make time to exercise, well I stopped looking at it as exercise a long time ago. It is just a part of my life like bathing, and brushing my teeth. Imagine what I would smell like if I quit showering. I apply the same rule to exercise. It takes a lot of self discipline to become what you want to become but it is doable. Obstacles are meant to be overcome. I wish you all well

11-04-2005, 01:35 AM
Hi everyone. Hope you all are doing well in this crazy world of shiftwork. I need to stop giving tips and start taking my own advice! Man, it is so easy to fall off the wagon, I am having a hard time at work stopping myself from snacking. My partner I am working with tonight is really bad for bringing treats. She opened a fresh bag of pretzels and we pretty much polished them off. I have to pretty much start over and I am into nights now, I have tonight then tomorrow night, so I will start by getting my cardio & water back into place tomorrow - and I still need to weigh myself, I will do that soon too. Got to love that procrastination! Oh well, I guess it is o.k. to fall off as long as you get back on - right?

11-04-2005, 02:14 AM
Got to love that procrastination! Oh well, I guess it is o.k. to fall off as long as you get back on - right? :) sure it is okay as long as you keep getting back up. remind yourself why you want to achieve this goal

11-04-2005, 06:17 AM
Hey Pamintx! I registered for this forum just so I could reply to your post! I am currently at work right now. I work either 9p-530a or 10p-630a, and on weekends 1230a-9a. So I know how it is! And I work as a travel agent at a call center and you know about call centers, all we do is eat! So here are my suggestions: 1) You do have a "normal life" and you need to believe that! Our day just starts at a different time than everyone else. 2) get more sleep, try to at least get 6-7 hours. (I know if you have little ones like me, it's tough, but lock them out of the room until your wakeup time!) 3) Eat five times a day, yes FIVE! You need to eat every 3 hours to keep your metabolism going! From what you said on your original post, you are not eating much at all and that is a big NO NO! You have to eat girl! If you wake up at noon and don't eat until 6pm, you are killing your body! That's why you don't have any energy! You need to supply it with enough fuel, but the right type! (lean protein, starchy carb, fibrous carb at each meal!) Eating less makes your body go into starvation mode, which means it is hanging on to all the fat you've got just in case it doesn't see another meal for 16 hours. 4) Don't tell yourself your body can't handle lunch in the middle of the night! Your body doesn't know it's 2 in the morning! Remember, we have "normal" schedules, meaning 2 a.m IS lunch time! Your body can handle it, believe me! 5) Write down a plan of action, you need to know where you're at, where you are going, and how you're going to get there! (Email me, I would love to show you more about all this, I have nothing better to do at work anyway!) 6) Exercise, this is important, BUT nutrition is MORE important. How is your body supposed to handle a run at the track when you haven't given it the fuel to burn? If you work out without eating, you are only eating your own muscle, because your body will break down your muscle to get energy! That's scary! Okay, I've said enough, but I could go on and on. Take care and good luck!

11-06-2005, 03:12 AM
mmp, I sent you a private message. I am more than willing to be taught how to live with this crazy shift! Thanks in advance for letting me pick your brains!

11-13-2005, 09:19 AM
I work as a police dispatcher as well!! One of my biggest problems is constantly being sooooo tired. I have learned to reach for the candy box in order to give myself a small dose of energy to get me through the next hour or two. Of course, it ends up backfiring. I find just the act of eating helps keep me awake. I also drink alot of Pepsi. I've never been a coffee drinker and the caffeine in Pepsi (regular, not diet) keeps me going.

I have never been any good at packing a lunch. I might grab stuff to make a sandwich or I have somebody go get me some code.

One of the issues here is all the mandatory overtime. Especially the last minute stuff. You're looking forward to going home and then suddenly find out you're staying for another 4 hours. Ugggghhh.

11-14-2005, 01:53 AM
juju, You're singing my song!!!! I sent you a reply to your private message. We could be sisters with our thoughts!

12-07-2005, 08:14 AM
hi, i'm new here and thought i'd add a comment or two. i'm an rn and i work the 7p to 7a shift, 3-4 nights a week. it gets really rough trying to stay balanced. i like to cook my meals in advance and pre-package them for work. a little bit of planning goes a long way. but it gets tough when yoour body clock is all confused and the you need to fit in exercise and eating right! argh! it's enough to drive a person batty. i love flip's comment about looking at exercise as an activity of daily hygeine. for me, it has been the hardest to fit proper exercise into my routine. i'm taking the first baby steps though... i'm making myself do at LEAST 15 minutes every other day. (it's easy to talk yourself into working out when it's only for 15 minutes! :) )
i'll eventually work my way up to longer workouts when i'm ready.