What to Eat for Your Job
Never-ending night shiftThe nurse
Who she is: Jaimi Gray, 34, married. Body stats: five-five, 135 pounds Personal weight goals: "I could probably stand to lose three to five pounds, but it's not a big concern."
Job demands: An emergency-room nurse at a major hospital in Denver, Gray works twelve-hour shifts three days in a row. She's often on her feet attending to patients, assisting doctors, pushing wheelchairs and dealing with medical traumas from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. "I usually hit the door running and don't sit down until my shift is over," says Gray.
What she eats: To prepare for long nights on the job, Gray has a big dinner -- usually red meat or chicken, a green salad, vegetables and a baked potato or pasta. Because the hospital cafeteria and deli are closed at night, she brings dinner leftovers, sandwiches and fruit to eat at work. But grazing on junk food, such as potato chips and chocolate, usually wins out. "When things get crazy, my good intentions go out the window," she says. She also drinks two or three cans of soda. Breakfast, her last meal before hitting the sheets, is typically toast or a bagel with some fruit.
Diet diagnosis: Women who work on their feet for long hours -- nurses, waitresses, mail carriers, store clerks -- need plenty of fuel. Eating a balanced meal before work scores bonus points -- a serving of protein has staying power, so Gray won't feel hungry for several hours.
However, Gray's chaotic work environment is likely leading her to nosh on junk food. "Many of us make poor food choices when we're stressed," Zanecosky says. Candy and sugary soda -- which produce an energy spike, then a letdown -- could be causing her to crash. Instead, Gray can keep her energy level up for her twelve-hour marathon by eating small amounts of complex carbohydrates every few hours. A sandwich sliced into small triangles and fortified cereal stashed in a plastic bag are easy snacks to munch on the run. Drinking water will help her fight fatigue.
Perfect peak-performance meals: Carbohydrate-rich mini meals such as orange juice and half a sandwich; cheese and crackers with fruit yogurt; cereal and a banana.