The nursing profession is known for its long hours and stressful shifts. Along with being an emotionally taxing career, at times, it can also become physically tiresome. In a pinch, loading up on caffeinated drinks and vending machine snacks can sound convenient and appealing, but is that really the best choice? In order for you to be at your best at work, you must think of food as fuel.
Similar to a car needing gasoline and oil changes to function smoothly, your body also needs the proper fuel. Eating the right kinds of foods throughout your day will help to give you energy you need for a productive nursing shift.
Here are a few tips to fuel your next nursing shift with the right foods:
Breakfast of Champions
They don’t call it the most important meal of the day for nothing! Start your day with a substantial breakfast to give you the energy to make it through your shift. It’s a smart idea to include a protein during breakfast, such as eggs, yogurt, lean meat or tofu. The right breakfast will help you fight the fatigue, both mental and physical, that may hit you later in the day.
Since nurses are usually running a tight schedule, it can be difficult to find the time to prepare meals. This sometimes leads to poor food choices like fast food, vending machine snacks or skipping meals altogether. One way to combat this is by prepping your meals ahead of time so you can grab it and go when you need to! Spending a few hours on your day off to prep lunches for the week can save you a lot of time in the long run. Here are a few easy make-ahead lunch ideas to try. Want to save even more time? A meal delivery service like Hello Fresh or Door to Door Organics might be right up your alley. Another option is to skip cooking altogether and buy pre-made lunches such as salads or nourish bowls.
Steer Clear of Emotional Eating
As a nurse, in addition to physical exhaustion, you often have to endure emotional exhaustion as well. Caring for others who are ill is not an easy task and when you care so much about helping others, it can tend to weigh on your own emotions. Don’t turn to food for comfort when you’re feeling overwhelmed or depressed. Instead, busy yourself with hobbies, exercise, or spending time with friends and family, as well as nurturing your body with nutritious meals instead of unhealthy ones. You will feel better in the long run.
Food Journal or Mobile App
Does your schedule make it challenging to keep track of your food intake? Try keeping a daily food journal. There are also several apps for your smartphone that you can use to track and plan your meals if that’s easier while you’re out and about. Writing down all of your meals, snacks and drinks will help put into perspective what you are putting in your body. It may help you make better food choices, eat more fruits and vegetables and even notice correlations with how you feel mentally and physically after meals.
Practice these tips to make the best choices you can regarding your nutrition. You will feel better throughout your nursing shift and be at your best to help your patients.