As a shift worker, what do you crave when your stomach starts to rumble mid-shift? Do you nibble on a few almonds, go for a block of chocolate or want something which is easily digestible like a bowl of soup or a hydrating smoothie? Though your break timing and duration may impact your choice, it doesn’t mean you have to eat the same boring snacks every shift. This post explores 8 of the best snacks for shift workers to keep you full and energised - plus the majority of them are pretty healthy too!
1. Chia Pudding
Though chia seeds don’t look like much, they are bursting with benefits! They are rich in fibre, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins, minerals and have even been linked to improving digestive health, heart disease and diabetes.
Chia seeds are highly versatile. They can be used in baked goods, sprinkled on top of salads or yogurt and can even be made into a delicious pudding. On that note, puddings are my favorite way to enjoy chia seeds. With time, the seeds themselves fill with the fluid of your choice creating a thick (and delicious) consistency which keeps you satisfied even throughout the longest of shifts. When mixed with your favorite things like banana and chocolate it’s my perfect go-to snack.
Here is a basic Chia Pudding recipe to get you started:
● 6 tablespoons of chia seeds (for a double batch) or 3 Tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 cup of liquid for a single serving.
● 2 cups milk - (I find almond milk gives a nutty, creamy taste)
● Blueberries, strawberries or blackberries for the topping. But you could also add vanilla extract, maple syrup, ground cinnamon, pinch cardamom, ground cloves and chopped raisins.
● Sweetener of your choice
Mix all the ingredients inside a glass container with a lid - think a mason jar (so you can shake it). My tip is to make these puddings the night/day before your night shift because the chia seeds need time to ‘sit’ before eating.
2. Toast Topper
Us shift workers want easy snacks right? Well, you’ll love this one. Grab a piece of wholemeal, gluten-free or brown toast (to keep you fuller for longer rather than white bread) and have fun with a variety of toppings. This is no ordinary, boring toast!
Such options you could try include:
● Sliced banana with/without cinnamon and honey
● Avocado with/without Vegemite
● Sliced banana on top of ricotta cheese, topped with raisins and pecans
● Avocado with trout or salmon, red onion and capers.
● Avocado, salt and pepper, with a hard-boiled egg you have pre-cooked and peeled.
● Cottage cheese and cucumber
● Baked beans (watch the added sugar – or make your own) and avocado
3. Tuna and Crackers
I sometimes forget to add fish into my diet as I often say to myself, it’s too hard to prepare. Tuna defuncts that myth, as it’s really easy to find in a can and helps ticking off this necessary food group!
If you don’t feel like crackers, ditch them and simply bring along a salad to work with mixed lettuce, carrot, red onion and bell peppers.
4. Celery and peanut butter
A delicious childhood favorite of mine! Celery not only adds some crunch into soups, it also boosts our health by reducing inflammation, providing an antioxidant boost and supports digestion. Peanut butter on the other hand provides an excellent amount of protein, along with essential vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and zinc. (source)
I pre-cut the celery to save time, ( finding a knife in the tearoom is impossible) and bring a little container of peanut butter to work for the perfect quick snack. Just be careful which peanut butter you choose and how much you apply to each celery stick. Peanut butter is not shy of the calories and I’d hate to be the reason you’ve put on a few kg’s.
5. Organic Medjool Dates with Nut Butter
Dates are a great natural sweetener that takes away the guilt of devouring chocolate or lollies when you need a pick-me-up. They are high in soluble fiber which helps constipation and “keeping you regular.” Nut butter differs from peanut butter as they are high in plant-based fats and protein. For some crunch and extra nutrients, once you’ve cut open the date and spooned some nut butter in, add a walnut on top.
6. Greek Yogurt with Cinnamon, Chai and Berries
Greek yogurt may taste a little “sour” for those not used to the taste but it’s much higher in protein than regular yogurt. This protein will help keep you full particularly at 3am when your tummy is rumbling.
The fresh berries are naturally flavorsome and sweet which help satisfy your sugar cravings. They are also full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Whilst the cinnamon helps improve issues with insulin resistance, unfortunately commonly seen in our shift working community.
7. Roasted Pear, Onion and Beetroot Soup
This recipe comes from a great book by Audry Starky titled, “Too Tired To Cook” who is a seasoned shift worker and founder of the Healthy Shift Worker Podcast.
Soups not only provide hydration but they are dense with healthy nutrients. This particular soup, for example, has beetroot which contains nitrites, which when broken down improve oxygen flow to the brain, enhancing mental clarity and alertness. It also contains fennel seeds and ginger which can help settle an upset stomach and the typical “night shift nausea”.
8. Breakfast Loaf
Again, I can’t take credit for this delicious recipe. This one is from the founders of BAREbyBauer, a natural body and skincare company based in Australia. This loaf will take only 10 minutes to prepare with 40-60 minutes of cooking time. Cut yourself a slice and enjoy it with a cup of tea during your shift - delicious!
● 3 cups of organic gluten-free oats
● 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
● ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
● 3-5 bananas
● 2-3 apples
● 1 medium zucchini
● 3 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil
● 1 cup walnuts
● 1 cup of berries
Pre-heat the oven, blitz firstly the oats, cinnamon and ginger, then add the banana and coconut oil. Add the chopped apples and zucchini (blitzing to your desired texture). Then add the blitzed walnuts. Stir through the berries and transfer to the prepared tray. Cook for 40-60 minutes and serve warm. So yum!
As you can see, just because we work odd hours it doesn’t mean we have to rely on the vending machine for snacks. I hope to have inspired you to try something a bit different in the kitchen to spice up your shift work lunch box!
Co-Founder The Other Shift