Fighting Fit In The NHS – The Solutions

In the previous post I talked about how NHS workers are fighting a losing battle against weight gain, covering some of the reasons WHY this is a problem for the National Health Service

Haven’t read it?

Just click the link below
NHS Workers and Battling Weight Gain

What I’m going to do in this post is address some of the issues and provide some solutions which will hopefully help those who need it

Problem #1

A typical day...

A typical day…

Choice of Food in the Hospital

There are snack machines everywhere, ‘thankyou’ cakes and chocolates on the desks, costa or starbucks on offer and the canteen food either sucks or is too far away to make it in time.

The Solution

It’s all well and good taking food in with you but sometimes you only get 5 minutes to shovel it down….Try taking a smoothie in with you instead. Pack it with some protein as this will help to fight off hunger and keep you satisfied longer.

Quick Smoothie Recipes Here

Problem #2

No Routine To Shifts

Think it’s easy ‘only’ working 3 days a week? Try having absolutely zero structure to any given week and sometimes a mix of day and night shifts in the same week.

The Solution

You tend to know your shifts at least a week in advance, so grab an hourly diary and pencil them in.
Once you’ve done that, pencil in the following in this order;

  • Sleep (6+ hours ideally)
  • Eating
  • Food Prep
  • Family Time
  • Housework/shopping/etc
  • Gym Time/Me Time

I’ve worked with many shift workers, working 50+hrs a week and this is possible, BUT you need to be prepared

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”
– Benjamin Franklin

Problem #3


The Dreaded Night-shift!

Oh nights. You feel like death at 3am, you can’t sleep in the day, you feel like death at 3pm and the whole ordeal restarts. This also messes up you body clock. You have food before work, you’re hungry in the early hours, you get home hungry and then you wake up too early hungry.

The Solution

If you don’t have an understanding of food then learn quickly…you need to be ready to take this on head first! You will be awake longer, (especially with long day shifts) so naturally will need MORE calories to function properly, look at having a high calorie day and then the averages are shifted for the rest of your low calorie days. Meaning you stay in a calorie deficit (weight loss) but survive a night shift

Try to do low carb earlier on in the shift then larger carb meal before bed to help you sleep. Remember how you feel after a good Sunday dinner? It’s the carbs that do that, so use them to help you sleep.

Like I’ve already said, take a shake in with you, personally I’d have a mix of protein and oats to keep me going.

Problem #4

Sleep Pattern? What sleep pattern?!

We are creatures of habit, which is why shift work causes us so much hassle when it comes to sleeping. You feel like death at 3am, you can’t sleep in the day, you feel like death at 3pm and the whole ordeal restarts.

The Solution

For you to get through this ordeal which you call a work pattern, you will need to focus on getting enough sleep.

Here are my must-do’s to help get good quality sleep;

  • Make the room like a cave; blackout blinds
  • Use an eye mask
  • Ear plugs if needed, people cutting the grass WILL keep you awake!
  • Drinking 2-3 litres of water will help also
  • Leave any and all tech (phone/ipad/etc) outside of the bedroom

Crib Sheet To Shift Work Success

Plan Ahead – Before you disappear into the relentless grind of back-to-back night shifts, take an hour or two to get prepared. Wash fruit, chop veggies, blend up some smoothies (store them in the freezer), cook some hard-boiled eggs, etc. These few hours will pay off big time.
Lots of snacks! – Prepare for your shift the same way you would prepare a child’s lunch; fill several small resealable containers with appealing, healthy snacks.

Here are some ideas:

Carrot, celery and red pepper sticks with hummus.
Bowl of plain yogurt with granola and raspberries.
Protein-packed muffins made.
Quinoa salad with chopped fresh veggies and vinaigrette.
Boiled eggs, already peeled.
homemade energy bars/bites.
Spinach salad with quinoa, feta and beets.

Stay hydrated! Staying hydrated is a simple way to keep you feeling both awake and full.
Add in some treats – You don’t want to feel deprived or like you’re missing out on the fun. By packing one or two small treats to enjoy during your shift, you’ll have already set limits before you dive head-first into the fresh box of donuts. Some ideas:

a small bar of dark chocolate
cranberries or raisins covered in chocolate
Yogurt & Berries

Prepare Meals – Prepare some slow cooker meals on your days off and freezer bag them. Put them into the slow cooker when you get home in the morning after your shift. Go to bed, and it will be ready for you when you wake up. Pack up some leftovers to bring to work for a mid-shift meal.


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