Wellness for Nurses: Don’t Overlook the Importance of Nutrition
You are what you eat! You’ve heard this old adage time and again, but it’s true your body needs the right fuel to be strong and healthy. Your wellness directly impacts the care you provide your patients—and they’re relying on you to take good care of yourself! Still, healthy eating can seem boring and even time-consuming to maintain—especially when you’re a travel nurse on the road. But with a few tips and tricks, you can be a healthy-eating expert during your time in Washington, DC. Here’s what you need to know.
While you’re busy on assignment, you can take easy steps to keep healthy food within reach:
- Eat breakfast. Always. Research shows that skipping breakfast can lead to high-calorie food binges later on in the day. So be sure to always eat breakfast, including a lean protein source. Healthy breakfast choices include high-fiber cereal with yogurt or low-fat milk, or an omelet with chopped veggies and a side of wheat toast.
- Keep veggies snack-ready. If you need to invest energy to prepare fresh veggies, you might just reach for something easier to eat during a snack attack. But if you keep a supply of carrots, celery, green peppers, etc., pre-cut and washed in your fridge, you’ll be more likely to choose them in a pinch. Keep low-fat dressing or hummus on hand for delicious, healthy dipping.
- Have healthy snacks on hand. During your shift, you can avoid vending machine pitfalls by keeping healthy snacks in your bag, such as granola bars, yogurt-covered raisins, or pre-portioned servings of nuts or dried fruit.
- Visit a local farmers’ market. You’ll be surprised how you can become inspired to eat fresh produce when surrounded by locally grown fruits and veggies. Peruse your neighborhood farmers’ market for fresh options—and support your local economy at the same time!
- Practice wise dining. Many menus provide calorie information to help you choose wisely when dining out. If they don’t, you can bet the portion will be large, so ask for a take-out container before you begin eating and portion half your meal into it for later. Ask for salad dressing on the side and avoid cream- or cheese-based sauces or gravies.
- Sip water throughout the day. Good hydration is important for good health, but it can also help you avoid overeating at meals. That’s why it’s wise to have a glass of water with every meal—you’ll be able to fill up and eat fewer calories. Plus, dehydration can mimic the sensation of hunger within your body. So keep a water bottle with you during your shift and sip at regular intervals during the day.
- Stop eating when you’re satisfied, not full. Mindful eating is a great way to regulate your intake. At meals, eat slowly and pay careful attention to your body’s signs that it’s had enough. Stop eating when you feel about 75 percent full—not stuffed.
- Mind liquid calories. It’s easy to forget about the calories in certain beverages, but these can quickly add up. Fruit juices, sports drinks, sodas and even coffee (if you add sugar and creamer) can tack on hundreds of unintended calories during your day. Your best choice is water to maintain hydration, or tea and coffee if you need some quick energy (being careful to limit the additives).
- Avoid processed foods. Processed foods contain salt and preservatives that aren’t good for you. It’s your best choice to choose fresh produce, meats, fish and seafood, and, if you choose packaged foods, read the labels carefully. Choose items with as few listed ingredients as possible, and only those ingredients you can easily identify.
- Try something new. Plenty of restaurants have jumped onto the healthy eating bandwagon, and you can scan the menu or check with wait staff for help making a healthy selection. A simple Google search can yield a list of nutrition-forward establishments, such as the following in Washington, DC: Busboys and Poets, Protein Bar, Smoke & Barrel and Founding Farmers.
Are you ready for your next travel nurse assignment?
Whether you’re traveling to Washington, DC, or other cities such as San Diego, Brooklyn or Austin, check out TaleMed. We offer the guidance of experienced recruiters to find travel nurse assignments across the country. To learn more, visit our job search page or contact us today.