Today I am sharing my typical eating schedule (plus meals) for when I’m working at the hospital.
This is just a snapshot to give you an idea of my typical day and how I make Intermittent Fasting work for 12-hour shifts.
If you’re in a hurry and you’ve got questions about your IF journey, check out this convenient 8 page PDF download designed to answer the most common questions you’ve asked about Intermittent Fasting!
I usually wake up around 4:45 AM and do a workout or light cardio and stretching. At 5:30 AM, I hop in the shower and start getting ready for the day.
By 6:15 AM, I am in the kitchen and whipping up a keto-style coffee. Some days I use 1 Tablespoon grass fed ghee plus 1 Tablespoon MCT oil. Other days it just 2 Tablespoons of grass fed heavy cream. (If you are new to either of these, start slowly with 1 teaspoon each and see how it goes. You can always increase the amounts later.)
I blend/froth all the ingredients right before I head out the door. I try to drink my coffee and about 16 ounces of water (with electrolytes) during my morning commute.
Depending on the OR schedule, I typically get a mid-morning break between 8-9 am. I don’t ‘break my fast’ or open the eating window during this time because I am rarely hungry at 9 am. I drink water or reheat any remaining coffee and just enjoy my break.
Pro tip: Invest in a small portable frother to stash in your lunch box or work bag. Frothers are great for blending everything, especially if you reheat coffee with ghee or oil in it.
It’s honestly not the same as a blender at home but it does the trick in a pinch. It’s also great to have a frother if you make keto-style coffee while traveling or on the go.
Meal One: Breaking my fast
I try to take a ‘late lunch’ around 1 pm if possible. The OR schedule can be unpredictable and usually you are forced to eat lunch whenever it’s offered, so anything after noon is late enough for me to start eating.
If lunchtime comes earlier than noon and I’m not hungry, I will drink more water or drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar (about 1 tablespoon) and try my best to wait until I actually feel hungry before I eat. This can often mean trying to grab a bite between patients or cases, but I make it work.
The key here is to listen to how your body feels and whether you are truly hungry. It’s important to make sure that you are not just eating because you have a break or have downtime or are bored.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to make someone else’s ‘food timeline’ fit your body or your needs. Trust your body and it’s signals
Thoughts on ‘snacking’.
I don’t know about you, but we always seem to have snacks in the break room. They just sort of show up, from a mysterious carb-and-sugar-loving pastry fairy. Being mindful and tuned in to your hunger levels can help determine if you truly need a snack or are just tempted because ‘it’s there’.
Check in with how you’re feeling and if you are truly hungry before diving in. I usually tell myself, at lunchtime when I open my eating window, if there is any left, I’ll have a bite.
Snacks on our unit don’t usually last that long. If by some chance there is anything left, and I’ve opened my eating window, I’ll try a small piece or a small portion.
Often, this satisfies my sweet tooth without sabotaging my whole day. Also if it’s lunchtime, and my eating window is open, I know I packed something nutritious to eat. This will serve my goals better than any snack, so I make sure I eat whatever meal I packed. This step alone can go a long way to help you meet your goals and keep mindless snacking at bay.
If you are bringing healthy food to work, but going to the cafeteria and ordering something less healthy, you really aren’t serving yourself or your goals. Try to avoid taking food on ‘field trips’ as I call it. I eat what I bring to work, with few exceptions.
What to eat for your first meal?
I am a breakfast lover at any time of day. So for meal 1, I tend to have breakfast items.
A couple of meal 1 staples I rotate between are:
- Sprouted grain toast with nut butter and eggs
- A cold oatmeal mixed with protein powder, nuts and fresh fruit
- cottage cheese with fruit and 1/2 an avocado
If you’re not a breakfast person, some other ideas for a more lunch type meal are:
- A lettuce and veggie wrap with chicken or tofu
- A giant salad with protein such as hard boiled eggs, fish, or nuts
- A deli meat roll up with turkey, cheese, mustard, and lettuce
Meal Two: Dinner
Typically my second (and last) meal is timed for right when I get home.
A huge part of my success and staying on track with healthy eating is meal prepping. I carve out time on the weekend to prepare meals for the week ahead.
This helps tremendously by ensuring I have healthy meals on hand and can reach for something nutritious when I am lounging on the couch, too exhausted to cook.
Meal prepping doesn’t have to be exhaustive or take up your entire weekend. It takes me about 2 hours total. For me, this time wisely spent helps eliminate the ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t have the energy’ excuses that tend to pop up during a busy week. Instead, I just heat up a pre-prepared dinner. It takes less than 10 minutes and I know I am choosing something that will serve my goals.
I typically eat dinner around 7:30 or 8 pm and my eating window closes around 8:30 or 9 pm.
What to eat for your Dinner meal?
Some typical meals I rotate between are:
- Quinoa with steamed veggies and chicken, roasted veggies with salmon
- Chickpea pasta with a vegetable medley and some sesame sauce with spices
- A giant salad with veggies, tofu, nuts, and half an avocado
I don’t eat dessert every night, but if I am treating myself to dessert, I usually have some dark chocolate squares or pretzels with a touch of chocolate drizzle.
What about meal 3?
You may notice I don’t eat a ‘3rd meal’. That’s totally a personal preference. I find that if I am doing a 16/8 type of fast, and eating a first meal with a good amount of protein and a bit of fat (from an avocado or nuts etc), I am not hungry enough in time to ‘fit in’ another meal. By the time I am ready for my next meal it’s usually right after work, at the closing end of the window so I make it my dinner.
If you are hungry enough and you can fit in 3 meals in an 8 hour window, then you do you! If you find it hard to eat that much food, or that you aren’t hungry enough for three meals, consider trying two nutritious meals in an 8 hour span and see if it works for you.
Honestly, if the OR schedule weren’t so hectic and unpredictable, I may be able to fit in a 3rd meal, but I usually just don’t feel hungry enough or frankly have time for a third meal on the days I work at the hospital.
Listen to your body and see what works best for you! There are even people that swear by OMAD (one meal a day) type of fasting but I don’t recommend this when just starting out.
If you’ve still got questions about intermittent fasting, check out my downloadable FAQ’s sheet. Here I spill about the most common questions I get related to intermittent fasting.