Healthy Eating & Snacking at Work for Nurses

Due to the long hours that nurses put in, and the constant needs of the patients, it is important that proper nutrition is utilized for a nurse to stay at their top performance level. This article has been broken into two parts. In the first part, we will explore proper eating habits for nurses, and in part two, we will discuss some great snack ideas that are easy for nurses to keep on hand without a lot of preparation.

Healthy Eating

Whether a nurse is working the night shift, a busy twelve-hour shift, or working per diem, finding the right nutrition to help you get through the shift is important. Many people resort to the vending machine or skipping meals, but these are not good answers to the problem. A nurse’s health is just as important as the health of the patients that are in their care, and therefore, must be treated with the same respect. It is important that a nurse can remain a caregiver and not end up on the other side needing care because they did not take care of themselves.

Deprivation – No

The question that most people ask is where to start. When starting to eat healthy, remember that deprivation is not your friend. When you deprive yourself of all your favorite foods, you are at a bigger risk for falling off the wagon quickly! Moderation is your friend. Consumption of healthier whole foods will leave you fuller so that you will consume less of the non-healthy foods like french fries, sugary treats, or other items. When you decide to eat the non-healthier foods, you will find that the desire for them is not as strong. The healthier additions to your diet is more filling, and it helps keep the cravings away. If you do find yourself with a craving, eat it in moderation. By not depriving yourself of the thing that you want, you will be able to stay on the right path. Better to eat a piece of cake at one sitting than eating a slice of cake with ice cream and whipped cream because you think you will never eat it again.

Big vs. Small

Another thing that happens is the consumption of a big meal in the hopes of making up for the skipped meals. Unfortunately, the body is not able to process big meals effectively. Smaller meals give you the continued energy necessary for you to perform the tasks necessary during a long shift.

There are many benefits to eating smaller meals during the day, and one is keeping the blood sugar levels stable. When you miss meals, you can cause a drop in your blood glucose level. The side effects of this can be irritability, extreme hunger, and fatigue. It is recommended that six small meals is more sustaining than 3 meals and 2 snacks. With a busy schedule, this can be hard.

To make the small meals work for you – plan ahead! Take the time to prep your meals before hand to ensure that you have what is necessary to have those meals. Making a grocery list that contains everything that you will need is the first step. Stick to the list when shopping, and once you get home, prep the meals. Once the meals have been prepped, put them in the containers that you will need to take with you to work. This will make it easier to pick them up when you are running out of the house to get to work. Having the meals on hand at work will keep you from eating things that go against good eating.

Written By:  Medical Staffing 360 Staff