Night shift and Jet-lag: how to adjust the time and structure of your meals and ideas of what to have plus practical tips

 Becuase of work or leisure or any other reason, changes in your routine might happen and is normal at first to find difficulties to adapt, so here some tips to deal better with it 


- Overeating at night even during a long shift can increase the amount of calories stored in fat and increase the insulin resistance or chronic gut issues and eventrually affect your sleep during the day in a negative way, keep always in mind that calories at night still count 

- If it's a new timetable, it doesn't make sense to try to keep all your old meal times, instead could be better to find a  whole new structure that could be at the same time easier to adapt and more functional, This could be one of the first steps to plan meals ahead

- Consumption of caffeine can affect your sleep later on, so depending on your tollerance make sure to not drink it to later in the night, 5 or 6 hours before bed time and make sure to have any drink that is not decaf 

- For the reason above some other food might have similar effects which is better to avoid:

 Chocolate, high in fat or spicy food, alcohol, too many dressing like ketchup for example

- One more time: better to stay away from processed and rafined food 


- Jet-lag: put your clock at the destination time zone as soon as you seat in the plane, it's not too early because that can really help your brain to adapt a day earlier and prevent you from extra snacking or meals at impractical times 

- Having the "main meal" before starting the shift could be the best strategy to avoid overeating later, but it doesn't mean that the main meal needs to be heavy as far you can keep a good source of lean protein and vegetables 

- Even if for few days, is important to prevent and reduce the side effects of this changes especially when you come back, because the effects of jetlag can affect several days or even weeks after your return and even more if we are talking about a work related shift 

- Better to prefer something light before going to sleep, for example:

Yogurt, Oats, Nuts, Kiwis, Milk, Low fat cottage cheese 

Also Soups or Smoothies are good snacks to prefer at night becuse they are easy to digest and help with hydration too

The Scientific side:

Your body is producing different hormones contstantly

 These are regulating the hunger and part of this is regulated thanks to out daily routine including when we go to sleep/wake up and what time do we usually eat

You can understand how much a different time zone or work shift can affect the whole hormones production 

When the cyrcadian rhytm is disrupted the regular function of the pancreas might be different

This means that managing a sugar spike could be more difficult, so preferring a low GI and GL food (we have discussed this in the 2 previous posts) can make things easy for the body to manage

One drastic way to reset your body clock:

All the tips above are made for the long term and healthy habits, this method is meant to be for occasions like a trip once in a while and not everyday situation 

Recommended just occasionally, this method consists in having a 12-16  hours fasting until you have reached the destination and going to have the next scheduled meal, brekfast for example

A practical example: 

if you are landing the next day in the morning let's say around 8 am 

it means that your first meal at the destination is supposed to be breakfast 

so 12-16 hours  before, the fasting should start, which is supposed to be few fours before a long flight for example or the last meal after before leaving home if we are talking about a short flight 

Obviously that takes a lot of will power and planning and only for longe flights, but in this way is the quickest to make sure your body resets and start producing again the chemicals at the right time with the meal you are going to have at the destinatin 

here some more links to help you with the advice given above:


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