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Rob Hobson is author of the renowned Detox Bible and a professional nutritionist who writes regularly for Men’s Health, Grazia and The Sunday Times. Rob’s consultancy business manages a range of clients providing them with nutritional advice.

For bartenders across the country, December means busy shifts, long working hours and late nights as Christmas and New Years approach. Keeping yourself in tip-top shape is a good way to get through the festivities in the best of health and keeping well-nourished plays a key role.

There’s a lot of advice out there telling us how we should be eating, but the most consistently sound advice is to keep it simple, eating mostly unprocessed foods and including a wide variety of ingredients, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, lean proteins and a little dairy. This type of diet will ensure you’re getting a good supply of nutrients, while keeping excess sugar, salt and unhealthy fats at bay.


Keep your meals light when eating before or during a shift, opting for whole grains such as quinoa (technically a seed), brown rice, soba noodles and whole wheat pasta, which are a good base to partner with lots of veggies and lean meats, fish or eggs. Try to avoid heavy dishes high in saturated fat (creamy sauces and dressings) and stodgy carbohydrates (white pasta, chips and rice), as they will only leave you feeling sluggish during your shift. You could also prepare your own food at home by making grain-based salads in bulk, which are not only cost-effective but give you something to have on for when you get home from a busy shift and can’t face cooking. Adding extra protein, nuts, seeds, vegetable and herbs, can easily turn these dishes into something fresh and new.

Lunch/Dinner ideas for Your Shift

1. Quinoa, vegetable and grilled chicken salad

2. Salmon salad with pulses and beans

3. Grain-based soups with crusty whole wheat bread

4. Sushi

5. Hummus, falafel and salad in whole wheat pita bread


To fight fatigue on a shift, many people rely on coffee, energy drinks and sweet snacks to keep them going, but this instant high is often short-lived, and as the body quickly processes the refined sugar in these foods and drinks, you’re left in an energy slump seeking out another hit. Team this with caffeine and a little work stress and your body is left feeling edgy and anxious as the adrenaline also starts to kick in.

Try keeping energizing snacks on hand that can satisfy your hunger and supply you with a nutrient boost as well as leaving you felling a little more centered and less jittery.

Energizing snack ideas

1. Nuts and seeds

2. Edamame beans

3. Smoothie

4. Apple or banana slices with nut butter

5. Hummus with whole wheat pita bread


Ending a busy shift can leave you starving, and as tempting as it is to wander into a fast food shack on the way home you should try to wait and prepare something quick and easy that offers more nutritional quality.

Late night light dinner ideas

1. Chopped avocado, chilli and lime on whole grain bread

2. Toasted whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and banana slices

3. Scrambled eggs with coriander on whole grain toast

4. Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts

5. Lean cooked meats or tuna with canned pulses and salad leaves


Keeping your immune system in good working order is also essential during the winter months, especially at times when your body is put to the test and your immune system may be vulnerable. Busy bar environments are also easy places to pick up bugs and the last thing you want is to get sick over Christmas. Stress, poor lifestyle habits (such as smoking) and an unbalanced diet can all challenge your immune system.

A nutritious diet should supply you with the nutrients most associated with maintaining a strong immune system, which include iron, zinc, selenium and the ACE vitamins. Probiotics are also good for your immune system and can be obtained from live foods such as yogurt and kimchi or supplements (look for one with at least 20 billion parts per serving). Mushrooms are also great for immunity as they contain vitamin D and plant compounds called beta-glucan polysaccharides that have been shown to modulate the immune system and enhance its defenses.

Top immune boosting foods

1. Probiotics

2. Orange and green vegetables

3. Shiitake mushrooms

4. Oily fish (salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel)

5. Brazil nuts


Hydration is also key to maintaining good, and the downside of being dehydrated is lethargy, inability to focus clearly and sluggish digestion. If you’re feeling thirsty then you’re already experiencing dehydration. Water is the simplest way to hydrate the body; aim for one liter during your shift. Try adding herbs, cucumber and fruits for flavor. Herbal teas and hot water with ginger and lemon also make refreshing hot drinks during your shift.

For a nutritious energy boost during your shift try making these delicious raw cacao and coconut energy balls. They’re rich in fiber, which slows down the release of sugar from the dates for a sustained energy they're so and also rich in magnesium, which helps convert food into energy.

Raw cacao and coconut energy balls

180 calories per ball

Makes 8 balls, 180 calories per ball

7 oz. Medjool dates, pitted

3.5 oz. ground almonds

3 Tbsp. raw cacao powder

2 tsp extra-virgin coconut oil

2 tsp chia seeds

1 Pinch sea salt


Place the dates in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

Drain the dates, transfer to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients except for the desiccated coconut.

Blitz the ingredients until they form a dough consistency.

Remove the mixture from the food processor onto a board and divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then coat with desiccated coconut.

Store the energy balls in the fridge.

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