Overtime Eating: 3 Nutrition Tips for Extra Work Hours

It’s 60 minutes before the end of my shift. I can’t wait to go home and eat the steak and asparagus dinner my devoted husband has made and hear about my son’s day at school. I’m approving (and sometimes rejecting) officers reports, checking their tickets for accuracy (if I can read them), and summing up the total calls and tickets of our 12 hour shift (because Administration needs the numbers so they can say we don’t do enough work).

Then in typical fashion of a day shift that ends during rush hour, an officer gets an accident in the last 25 minutes of his shift that has him faced with an arrest. Unplanned overtime.

So how do you deal with healthy eating when you are stuck on unplanned overtime? Here are 3 nutrition tips to help you eat healthy during extended working hours.

Plan Ahead

overtime eatingAs a Police Officer you know we are public servants so our jobs are busy when the public needs us. Overtime can happen to you at almost any shift.  So plan on being held over when you are prepping your meals for every shift.  I call it my overtime eating emergency plan.  Just add in some extra snacks and meals. Pack an extra water. A one second plan is better than no plan at all.

For more help with getting the most out of your meals check out these articles:

Healthy Snack Ideas

If you didn’t plan that was your first mistake. Now don’t go screwing it up by grabbing a Big Mac or a Whooper. Head to your local gas station and choose some health snacks. Many have healthy options now. Avoid the chips and pop and look for the unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, cheese and turkey  jerky that will hold you off until you get home.

If the overtime is more than a couple of hours, you can make a healthy overtime eating at a fast food restaurant.  McDonald’s has a side salad instead of fries as an option now and their southwest chicken salad with a lite dressing like balsamic vinaigrette dressing is pretty healthy.  If the town you serve has a grocery store you can find roasted chicken, salads and fruit to make a healthy choice. Don’t skip the meal altogether though. When your blood sugar drops you’ll be craving sugary foods that will have choosing candy and pop instead of a healthier choice. Stick to healthy fats and protein or food containing fiber as that will make you feel full longer.   You can download these healthy snack ideas.

Drink Your Water

overtime eatingWhile snacking on those almonds or eating your Greek yogurt, be sure to buy yourself a 16 oz. bottle of water. Or better yet bring your own water bottle (enough to hold for 2-5 cups of water). Drinking water is a great way to feel more full and flush out your body. You can and should be carrying that around in your squad car every day anyway. Just fill it up when it’s empty.

Although you can’t plan for every unexpected situation, you can have a back up plan in place. Make an emergency overtime eating bag containing nuts, turkey jerky, protein powder and a shaker cup for those overtime days. Bring it with you every day in case you are the one with the bad luck who gets held over on a sick call, late arrest or serious incident. It maybe extra equipment to carry, but you’ll be happy you did.

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 Val Kuikman is a 15-year police veteran currently serving as a sergeant. She is dedicated to serving others through her career as an officer. She is also a health coach who provides support to help others discover their power. You check out her website at valquickman.com or email [email protected].