Literature behind Nutrition
Macraes mine is located 34 kilometers from the nearest town, Palmerston, and 88 kilometers from Dunedin City thus it is fairly isolated.
This means that access to healthy foods while at work is a common challenge facing the employees at Macraes.
As a result of this, poorer nutritional intake can lead to a number of health consequences including short term affects like fatigue and
irritability, to more long term consequences like obesity, heart disease and other metabolic conditions.
A multitude of studies have assessed the association between shift work and nutritional intake.
Many of these studies have identified a strong association between shift work and increased risk of
cardiovascular disease, weight gain, obesity, and a range of other metabolic disorders
(Strzemecka et al., 2014; Morikawa et al., 2008; Lowden et al., 2010; Amani & Gill 2013; Zhao & Turner 2008).
This evidence is suggestive that those who perform shift work have poorer nutritional intake and poorer diets than those who are day workers. While the risk of these disorders will also be contributed to by other factors like exercise, smoking and alcohol intake,
nutrition will play a very significant role in the development of these illnesses.
Due to the irregular and unnatural hours of shift work, normal eating times are disrupted.
Workers are no longer able to eat three meals throughout the day due to the timing of shifts and breaks.
One study found that although shift workers still eat normal amounts of food in total throughout the day,
the timing of the intake of food is altered.
Workers eat at more irregular times where there is more snacking and fewer substantial meals (Johnston, 2014).
This irregular pattern of eating can alter the bodies handling of nutrients thus increasing the risk of weight gain.
Another study also looked at this and found that shift work makes nourishment and regular consumption of
food difficult and suggested that workers should be provided with easier access to meals at specific times of the day
(Strzemecka et al., 2014).
In addition to the timing of eating, it is also important to consider what type of food shift workers are eating.
Due to the difficulty in having regular, full meals while on shift work, it is much easier to consume
'convenience' foods, that require little to no preparation. However these foods are often carbohydrate and
fat rich foods, with high energy content but poor nutritional value.
A study compared the diets of shift workers with non-shift workers and found that the nutritional intake of
shift workers was much less healthy (Zhao & Turner 2008).
In order to overcome poor nutritional intake, a number of things can be done in order to make healthy consumption
more accessible to shift workers. One paper produced by the Scandanavian Journal of Work,
Environment and Health provided guidelines on how to improve eating habits while on shift work
(Lowden et al., 2010). These guidelines included:
Guidelines to improve eating habits while on shift work:
*Eat a meal before going to sleep during the day in order to avoid waking up due to hunger
*Attempt to stick to a normal day and night pattern of food intake i.e. breakfast, lunch and dinner at the appropriate times
*Have three significant meals throughout a 24 hour period where each meal makes up 20-35% of your daily intake of food
*Avoid relying on convenience foods that have high carbohydrate content during your shift.
*Avoid sugar-rich foods like bakery items, soft drinks and sweets.
*During your shift, rely on foods like vegetable soups, salads, yoghurt,
whole grain sandwiches, nuts, and other more balanced snacks.
*Design your shift schedule to allow enough time between shifts for sleep,
meal preparation, and other activities, and avoid quick returns to work.
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