Eat a proper meal before you go to bed in the morning and eat a light snack when you wake up again. Don’t eat a full-fat sandwich at night. That is Meeri Ahlstedt’s advice, onboard diet expert.
Night watches tend to disturb eating rhythms. Normal mealtimes are slept through or come at strange times, and in the small hours many people feel the need for something sweet. Meeri Ahlstedt teaches future ships’ cooks at the Ester Mosesson college in Göteborg and gives courses in diet for onboard employees. She says that personnel working on watches must re-think their mealtimes to give their bodies a chance to adapt and feel good. The largest changes are for those working between two and six in the morning.
– When you finish in the morning you need to eat a good meal before you go to bed. A large breakfast or a well-balanced meal is a good choice, she says.
After sleeping, our bodies need something lighter to get started on. Meeri Ahlstedt’s advice is to avoid left-over lunch food and choose good breakfast food instead, such as porridge with fruit and berries, eggs, wholemeal bread or yogurt with muesli.
Easily digested food for the hours before dawn
The other two mealtimes of the day should be eaten at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. with a snack in between them; at around 11.30 p.m. it is time to eat something light. Cooked food should be avoided between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.
– The digestion process and intestine activity are on tickover at that time, and we can’t manage full meals very well. The body temperature decreases and we feel cold. Urine production also decreases, and those who drink a lot of diuretic liquids at night, such as coffee, tend to feel bloated since the body retains liquids.
If you feel the need to eat something in the early hours, you should choose easily digested food that is low in calories. Avoid fast carbohydrates such as white bread, sweets, soft drinks, fruit juice and sweet buns so that your blood sugar level stays even and your desire for sweet things is under control. Fatty foods and foods that cause wind are not recommended either, says Meeri Ahlstedt.
– Good nighttime food includes smoothies with fruit and berries, yogurt with nuts and raisins, dried fruit, warm soup or high-fibre bread with low-fat ham or cheese. Your body can digest this sort of food more easily.