Friday, December 14, 2012


Right food at Right time

Compiled by
Ms. Uma Shakthi, Dietitian
Dr.Mohan's Diabetes Specialities Center

          Jobs that require working in shifts are quite common today. Globalization has had such a phenomenal impact that round-the- clock service has become a necessity in almost every sector, forcing people to work in shifts. For such workers, a balanced diet, adequate water, a proper schedule for eating food and sleeping, a regular interval for recuperation from exhaustion, time with family and friends exist only in dreams, assuming they get to at least close their eyes for a peaceful moment.

          The condition of the night shift workers is the most pathetic, given that they have to adapt to a total reversal from the basic human nature, ultimately forcing them lead a nocturnal life. This not only affects their eating and sleeping habits but also gradually deteriorates the overall physical, psychological, behavioral and emotional health.

“Right food at Right time” – the mantra is no more in existence.

The problem:

The workers’ sedentary lifestyle in performing a monotonous job, the over-tasking deadlines imposed and high demand for performance and productivity ultimately affects their overall health.

  • Obesity and constipation results from physical inactivity while back pain, neck pain and other spinal cord related disorders may be attributed to the constant sitting posture which may be referred to as Repetitive motion injuries (RMI). RMI are the illnesses or injuries that result from weeks, months and years of overuse of human joints.
  • Insomnia and irregular sleep are the common disorders among such workers. While day shift workers get little sleep at night due to strenuous work, night shift workers rarely sleep during the day owing to noise and other disturbances from the surroundings.
  • As these kind of jobs needs to be done in a centralized air-conditioned area, workers sweat less and drink less or no water during the whole day leading to the accumulation of toxic wastes on their body that are usually eliminated through sweat.
  • Almost 10-12 hours of continuous strain may result in job stress. Job stress is felt when job requirements do not match the capabilities, resources or needs of the workers leading to fatigue, tension headaches, anxiety, irritability, depression and suppression of immune system.
  • When one is constantly exposed to the radiation emitted by the LCD monitors, their eyes tend to become dry causing poor vision, which is generally called computer vision syndrome (CVS).

The solution:

Is there any solution?

How can one manage without quitting the job?

           When one searches the solutions for these problems, one may consider the dietary modifications as the easiest one. Workers especially those in nightshifts can alter their biological clock properly by scheduling the meal and snacks time along with regular break time.

           Amongst the many varieties of food available, choosing the right food is in your hands. Plan in such a way that there is 4-5 hours of gap between two larger meals. Take food only when you are physically hungry.

  • Always prefer fruit and vegetable juices or salads instead of coffee, tea or carbonated drinks. Fruits and vegetables are beneficial in providing antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and fibre which are very much essential to provide relief from constipation, dehydration, fatigue, stress, etc. fruits like papaya, pineapple, dates, oranges, guava, mango and vegetables like carrot, beetroot, cucumber, bitter gourd and greens are useful in balancing abnormal hormone levels. Always prefer brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are rich in carotenoids, which are required to prevent vision problems.
  • Do not take rice preparations often as they give more calories leading to weight gain. Take protein foods to normalize the overall metabolism.
  • Do not take French fries, potato chips, and savories as snacks because they tend to accumulate fat and cause weight gain. Instead prefer a vegetable sandwich, soup or whole fruit, which is light as well as healthy.
  • One can always bring food prepared at home like ragi porridge, oats porridge or barley water.
  • Take regular breaks from watching computer screen. Close your eyes for a few minutes to revive retinal production inside the eyes. Focus on some object at a distance, which is green or yellow for a while as it soothes your eyes.
  • Ideal sitting posture must be adopted. Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor or footstool to counterbalance the forces on lower back.
  • Try to spend time with your family and friends to rejuvenate your mental health.

           A decent white collared job at the cost of personal health is no gain. A proper concern and awareness of one’s own health must not be lost in the pursuit of material benefits. It is the need of the hour.

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