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Do Lucozade and Mars bars count towards my five a day?

  • 21 Comments

Beyond the Bedpan wonders why all shift nurses aren’t managing to prepare and eat three healthy meals a day. It’s not like they’ve got anything better to worry about, right?

Oh hi, didn’t see you there. Too busy roasting these pine nuts and growing our own organic rocket to notice you come in.

What’s that? You don’t make your own nutritionally-balanced quinoa salads before your shift while you wait for your home made muffins to bake? No, thought not.

So the latest ‘research’ suggesting that working shifts is linked to abnormal eating habits shouldn’t really come as a shock to any of us.

Researchers found a strong link between working shifts and failing to find the time to fit in your 5 a day. Unsurprisingly, as most of the nurses we know are a little bit busy running around taking care of patients. Nurses have to be angels, but where can they find the time to be domestic goddesses too?

The study looked at 378 nurses at a hospital in Hong Kong. They did hope to speak to many more, but most were on lunch.

One of Beyond the Bedpan’s loyal readers remembers a time when it wasn’t all so bad.

“Many years ago we were looked after. The breaks were an hour for lunch or dinner plus a breakfast, an afternoon tea and coffee break and there was a sisters’ and a separate doctors’ dining area with waitress service. Minions had to queue.”

That certainly sounds like the sort of place Beyond the Bedpan would like to eat, never mind work. Are they still hiring?

Another reader pointed out that “our wards had signs up saying that it was the individual nurse’s responsibility to take their break within the allotted time - or lose it.”

Frankly we’d like to see the patient’s face if we tried that one. No, I’m sorry Mr Miller, I know you’re in desperate need of a trip to the loo, but I’m off for my lunch. I’ve just put a Ginsters pasty in the microwave in the staff room and I’d hate to waste my £1.50.

We were surprised by just how many people actually claimed to have lost weight since working shifts. Mind you, what better way to combat obesity than by throwing yourself into a career that could be nature’s answer to the gastric band. Maybe Lucozade and a mid-afternoon Mars bar are just the thing for that size zero body.

Beyond the Bedpan could really get its teeth into this one, but there’s a queue forming at the vending machine and we’re just dying for a Kit Kat.

  • 21 Comments

Readers' comments (21)

  • What's up with you BB? Get some porridge or muesli before you go to work. Have some ready made sushi from M&S or some walnuts from Lidl for lunch. Have some ready peeled and cut mixed fruit in a container from the supermarket. When you get home do a turkey stir fry (about 7 minutes) or steam some river cobbler with broccoli and spinach (about 12 minutes). If you can't afford this, you'll just have to cut down on your fags, booze and mars bars!

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  • Ohhh anonymous ... I can hear the rattling of feathers from here. There's hardling time to dress in the morning with getting the kids sorted and making sure the washing is in the machine let alone sit down to a bowl of porridge!Talk about health promotion it would be nice if there was more than crips, chocolate and fizzy drinks in the vending machine too!

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  • I really don't fancy eating porridge or muesli at 5.30 in the morning! I've put on lots of weight over 3 years since working 12.5 hour shifts both day & night despite the amount of running around I do. I take a healthy packed lunch every day and fruit snacks with bottled water. We are entitled to 30 minutes paid break on our ward (not enough on a long day shift!!!!) and a further 30 minutes discretionary if the ward is quiet (rarely) or we can pop into the office for a quick swig of water and a banana or a cup of tea and a biscuit when possible - I try to avoid stuffing my face with the chocolates the patients have kindly given to us but it has been known! I'm dehydrated, constipated and fat along with the exhaustion and everything that goes with it and I know there are a lot of us out there. However, I love my job, the patients, my colleagues and wouldn't dream of leaving. Can anyone help offer sensible tips, no I cannot face breakfast at 5.30 in the morning & believe me I've tried!! and just fall into bed after my shift finishes in the evening too tired for supper.

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  • I would get a healthy meal if our canteen actually opened after 6 and on a weekend anymore.

    Entitled to a 30 minute brak on a long day too - not long enough!!

    Fat and unable to get healthy food down me quick enough to digest and get back to work!!!

    A very tired and slogged A&E Nurse

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  • Well thanks for this incendiary piece of journalism! It certainly has caused a bit of a stir.... I would love to comment but i'm now too busy seething about my lack of representation in the nursing times, with the assumption that I wish to be a domestic goddess. I know there aren't many of us but our beards dont go well with baking muffins!

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  • I think it really depends upon how important health and nutrition is to you. If it's important (as it should be) then a little forward planning before the shift begins is necessary. At the end of a long shift something light but nutritious such as steamed fish and veg is easy and quick - only takes 15 mins - same as a microwave meal. Buy frozen veg and fish for convenience. Cook extra and take the leftovers in a lunchbox for lunch the next day. Also take plenty of fruit and wholegrains (bananas, avocado, apples, satsumas, wholemeal bread, brown rice) for energy. Always have a container of nuts for lasting energy and to help balance blood sugar. Almonds and brazils are particularly nutritious. Mini pots of natural bio yoghurt, add berries for taste, are also good and help digestion when on the move. Most importantly, always have a large bottle of tap water on you. NEVER skip breakfast, even if you don't feel hungry. During the shift, eat whenever you get the chance and drink LOTS of water. I work long shifts and I have had no problem with this as long as I know I have the right foods on me. If you're sensible about what you eat, blood glucose will stay balanced and it becomes less important to eat at certain times. If anything it can make you more in tune with your body and its hunger patterns. I know it sounds like an effort but it's more about getting into a good routine, then it becomes second nature. Plus there are countless benefits to be gained from looking after yourself in this way, not least the care delivered to patients. Yes there will always be marketing ploys, vending machines and junk 'convenience' food at our fingertips, that is how these brands make their money. But we are intelligent professionals who should be setting an example in health and wellbeing, and we must put in that little extra effort to demonstrate that, as ever, prevention is better than cure. In a world where chronic disease is increasingly a product of affluence and consumer choice, surely the example we set is just as important as the care we give.

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  • It really is soooo difficult to prepare for the long days, food wise, especially if you have two in a row! It probably can be done, however, someone here mentioned the canteen, and I have to agree that when I don't have my lunch with me then I have to ensure that I go at the right times to the canteen in order to get a hot meal which isn't always easy what with being so busy! Also, the time of breaks, half an hour, really isn't enough to sit down and eat a meal slowly and allowing it to digest before doing another marathon on the wards!

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  • Dear Anon 12.24. When you are tired of working shifts in a hospital you sound like just the sort of Nurse we need in Primary Care. Practical, sensible and above all a good role model. Instead of finding only problems and obstacles to eating healthily you have come up with good solutions. Spread the word!

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  • If this wasn't soo true I would LMAO

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  • You guys that can eat during a shift are very lucky indeed. In the large district general hospital just outside Edinburgh where I work (no names given!) we are not allowed to eat on shift for infection control reasons - yes you may laugh - but it's true. On a 10.5 hr shift we get 30the customary 30 mins paid and 15 min discretionary if it's quiet which we rarely miss I must admit. All food must be eaten either in the canteen or the staff room. Water during working hours is NOT allowed - infection control. I too remember the waitress servie for Sisters/ charge nurses and can recommend it - however that's a distant memory now.

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