How to find nutritional balance during a 12hr shift:

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Simple snacks and habits to incorporate…

 With hectic and unpredictable work schedules it may seem next to impossible for travel nurses to eat healthy while working your 8-12hr shift. Working overnight shifts and having virtually nonexistent cafeteria options can’t be easy, and the days you have off you’re trying to recover from the night before. I have worked with a handful of Nurses over the course of my 8 years as a Health and Nutrition Specialist and have come up with a few simple tricks to help you stick with a healthy nutritional plan all while juggling the crazy life as a Travel Nurse.

Before we dive in let me start off by saying that one of the major responsibilities as a nurse is to teach patients to live a healthier and more active lifestyle and to do that they must learn to exercise, control their diet habits, and practice good sleeping habits.

As Nurses I believe it is very important to keep up with your own health and to make yourself a priority both during working hours and during your off hours. Practicing a few of my tips will really help you become an overall better Nurse. Taking care of yourself will bring out the BEST overall you – and that will roll over in your work too!

Let’s start off by setting the time aside to MEAL PREP. Yes, it’s a term I’m sure most of you are familiar with but maybe haven’t fully invested into doing. I can only speak from my own experience when I say this, but it has been life changing for myself and for my past/current Nursing clients. By prepping and packing your own meals you are in full control over what you are putting in your body. It also helps prevent the feeling of being at the mercy of the hospitals cafeteria and what they may or may not be serving. While the apple in your lunchbox might take a few go’s before it’s actually eaten, the nutrition will power you through a 12 hour shift much better than the nachos and cheese from the cafeteria.

Here is a simple list of simple and powerful snack combos:

  • Tuna/Chicken Packets and Rice Cakes
  • String Cheese and Fresh Fruit
  • Nuts/Seeds/Dried Fruit (Trail Mix)
  • Homemade Protein Bars (cheaper than store bought ones!)
  • Hummus and Veggies (Can put in a mason jar for quick grabbing and going)
  • Apple and Nut Butter (Cut an apple in half, cut out the core and fill the core space with nut butter. If you put the two halves together and wrap it in plastic wrap, the apple can stay fresh for over a day)
  • Grapes and Nuts
  • Taco Bowls (Lean ground meat, veggies, rice)
  • Deli Meat and Cheese (Can make roll ups with this cheap and easy combo)

Those are only a few examples! You can get super creative and make things work.

Find a few different meals that work for you that are easy to make ahead of time. Take full advantage of your days off and force yourself to get up and make your nutrition a priority. On your days off, try to switch back to a normal schedule and wake up and FORCE yourself to do something, even if that “something” is you walking around the grocery store looking like a zombie. It will ALWAYS pay off in the long run and will help ensure that you set yourself up to have an amazing travel assignment!

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