As a nurse who is still breastfeeding and going to grad school, its hard to consistently maintain a clean diet due to the long hours of work and studying. All we nurses want to do when we get off work is find something that’s quick, easy and somewhat edible, so we can get to bed and wake up bright and early the next day. The problem with this is that those quick and easy meals tend to be “fast food” meals that are high in unsaturated fats, carbs and calories. None of which you want to put in your stomach right before you go to bed (seriously, it will just sit there in your stomach all night and make you feel gross in the morning). So I’ve compiled some tricks that I’ve done to help me maintain a clean diet and stay on track with my healthy lifestyle goals while working or at school.
Food Prep for your workdays, on a day off.
Sure food prepping may take 2-3 hours out of your day but it’ll pay off in the long run. Food prepping your meals allows you to have a healthy meal for lunch and come home to another healthy, quick meal for dinner (plus the significant other will thank you because that means they don’t have to cook).
Take healthy snacks to work and ACTUALLY eat them.
I know there are days at work where the morning is so busy and before you know it, it’s lunch time (or 2), you’re starving and all you want is a bag of chips or some candy. A good way to help offset these cravings is to take a snack for the gaps in between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner. I know it’s hard to squeeze in the time to eat it so if you need to, eat it while you chart (we nurses are really good at multi-tasking). I usually take a handful of almonds with some raisins mixed in, a KIND bar, or a THINK THIN bar; ya know, something that has a good amount of protein to keep me full and going until lunch or the end of my shift. If you bring your own snacks, you are less likely to reach for that bag of chips or those cupcakes that the family of your patient brought as a thank you (sure you can have one…but not three!).
Take your breakfast with you on the go.
What I do to make sure I get breakfast in the morning is I take it with me in a microwavable container (it’s usually a Paleo quiche of some sort) and I eat it during full report. Your charge nurse usually doesn’t care what you’re doing, just as long as you are there so you might as well get your grub on! You’ll feel a lot better starting your day with a full stomach than not.
Whether it is coconut, fruit infused, or just plain water, staying hydrated helps your body to stay in a fat burning state (yay!). And, hydration keeps you somewhat satiated so your less likely to reach for that junk food because you’re STARVING.