Healthy Diet Habits for Nurses Working Shifts

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As a healthcare professional you may be working anywhere from eight to twelve-hour shifts. And during these long hours, you might not even find the time to sit down for a few minutes and grab a bite. 

And with the ever-changing routines, alternate shifts and maybe having to cover for your co-workers if they call in sick, your diet is very much likely to get affected along with a disturbed sleep, messed up circadian rhythms, and general fatigue.

It is extremely crucial to not let these stressors affect your physical and mental well-being. One very obvious way to do that is to be smart about your diet and eating habits. A good and a healthy diet will ensure you stay healthy and on top of the game.

Breakfast:

Research has repeatedly shown the benefits of having a meal within two hours after waking up. You should eat a proper breakfast, consisting of healthy amounts of carbohydrates and proteins. 

The best options for breakfast include: Greek yogurt, eggs (prepared in the way you like eating them), fruits, nuts, fresh juices or protein shakes. Starting your day with a proper breakfast will ensure you have the energy to meet challenges that may come your way.

Pack Up:

Nurses have an immense amount of workload to handle in a day. Complicating their schedules further is the fact that some nurses like to upskill and, therefore, are enrolled in advanced nursing courses. 

Given time and work constraints, nurses pursue their advanced education online. Courses offered online like the USI online nursing programs RN to BSN are as good as the ones offered on campuses. 

With so much to handle in a day, nurses don’t get the time to prepare healthy meals and have to reach out for the bag of chips and other junk food options from the vending machines at their facility. 

It’s better to pack your own food before arriving at the facility for your shift. You could pack the following healthy food options into little container boxes: Almonds, cashews, pistachios, chopped-up carrots, cucumbers (seasoned with some lemon and salt on top), blueberries and strawberries. These food items are choke-full of fibers and nourishing antioxidants that promote healthy energy levels in the body. 

Protein:

It is impossible to overstate the benefits of including protein in your diet. Prominent food options for this essential nutrient are: chicken, meat, turkey, seafood, legumes, lentils, eggs, milk, and cheese. 

It is crucial that you include a good amount of protein in your diet because research into protein suggests that you need at least 1 gram of protein per kg of your body weight. This protein recommendation not only takes care of the muscle growth but also boosts satiety, metabolism, fat burning, and muscle mass. 

Eating protein-rich foods during lunch is going to give you a healthy dose of energy without making feel heavy or lazy afterwards.

Unless you suffer from any serious medical conditions where you’re supposed to limit your protein intake, it is necessary to incorporate a sizable portion of protein in your diet one way or the other.

Drink Plenty of Water:

Since nurses have to constantly stay on their feet, they must stay hydrated at all times for optimal body functioning. 

A plethora of health conditions can develop in case of dehydration. Drinking at least two liters of water a day is the standard recommendation that you should be following. 

You can also increase your fluid intake by drinking fresh juices or other fluids, if you can find any around your hospital area, or in the cafeteria. Orange juice, pomegranate, or apple juice can be some refreshing options you could go for during these hot summer days when we lose majority of our body’s water content through sweating.

Greens:

To meet your basic daily vitamin and mineral needs, the latest dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of including vegetables in your diet. Adults should eat at least 3 to 4 cups of vegetables a day. 

Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, radishes, and turnips are all foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Ensuring your diet has a good amount of these greens will have a tremendous impact on your health and energy levels. 

When you’re meeting your nutritional requirements on a daily basis, you’ll feel less fatigued and in control of your energy levels. 

Space out your meals throughout the day:

Instead of eating your fill in one sitting, eat at regular intervals to keep yourself consistently nourished. 

Not eating for long will certainly cause your energy levels to drop, while eating a hearty meal will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels and make you lethargic afterwards. 

It is smarter to follow a meal plan that spaces out your meals throughout the day. 

Conclusion:

Nursing duties demands a large amount of physical and mental energy. Nurses and other health professionals stay on their feet for the majority of the shift, giving patients quality care they need.  It stands to logic, therefore, that they remain healthy and replenish their energy levels regularly. To ensure a higher stamina and mental agility throughout the day, nurses should be intentional with their diet choices.

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