For busy nurses and medical professionals, a trip to the vending machine or fast food drive up window may seem to be the only nutrition a long, hectic shift will allow. Work schedules often make it easy to skip meals or eat too much during less busy times. Fortunately with a little careful planning and preparation, there are plenty of healthy meal choices to keep you alert and full of energy all while maintaining an attractive figure for your hospital scrubs.
Grabbing a donut or candy bar may certainly satisfy your appetite for a moment, but the sudden burst of energy only offers a temporary fix. Unhealthy eating habits lead to tiredness and more hunger, which can also affect memory, concentration and overall work performance.
Nutrition Tips to Maintain Optimal Performance and Energy
- Schedule small regular meals and snacks throughout shift – eat every two to four hours to keep up with energy demands and stave off cravings for carbs and sweet treats.
- Bring along a stash of healthy snacks – keep them in your locker, purse or car. Items to consider include high protein goodies such as tuna and string cheese along with whole grain crackers, dried fruit, trail mix or yogurt.
- Be creative with meal prep – for optimal energy, make sure to include whole grains, protein, fruit and veggies for lunch and dinner.
- Stay hydrated – make sure to maintain appropriate hydration by drinking water throughout the day. Tea and coffee also count but moderate caffeine intake by drinking only one to two cups daily.
- Start the day off right – the familiar adage “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is exactly right. With no food for 8 to 12 hours, the body needs energy to supply plenty of get up and go.