March is kind of an odd month. Depending on where you live, you could easily be wearing spring clothing one day, and tramping through snow drifts the next. We’re still in the habits of winter, while anxiously awaiting the first signs of spring to finally pop up. With those winter habits come warm, comfortable clothing, more time cuddled up indoors after work, and of course—comfort food! However, the time for cooler clothing, outdoor activities, and the dreaded bathing suit is fast approaching, leaving many of us with a new priority—healthy eating! While this can feel like an exhausting or impossible task for a busy healthcare professional, there are helpful steps you can start to take for your nutrition now before winter even comes to an end! Let’s take the rest of this odd in-between month to get our healthy eating habits back, and even learn some new ones. I want you to enter the summer season feeling fierce, and what better time to start than National Nutrition Month?
Nutrition to Go!
When trying to get your healthy groove back, it can be very tempting to make excuses. One of the biggest excuses, of course, involves having a busy work schedule, and nurses have some of the busiest schedules around! It’s so incredibly easy to rely on quick, and often unhealthy convenience foods during a long and stressful shift, rather than seeking out nutritious meal options. However, there are quick and convenient food items that you can choose, which will leave you feeling satisfied without making your scrubs feel extra snug. The only catch—you’ll need to do some preparation in advance, but I promise it will be well worth it!
Easy and Healthy Foods to Prep in Advance
Hint: Snack-sized baggies will be your new best friend!
Healthy Lunch = Healthy Nurse
I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve been known to pack a pretty mean and lean lunch. The thing is, packing a healthy lunch doesn’t need to take up a lot of time, and it definitely doesn’t need to be complicated! Also, if you think that healthy eating means you’ll be forced to eat salads every day, you’re sorely mistaken. For healthy lunches and snacks that require very little time or cooking, try the following steps:
If you take some time once a week to prepare the foods you’ll need, you can be fully stocked with healthy snacks and meals to get you through each and every shift! If you’re feeling extra ambitious, or would prefer a hot meal option at work, you could cook a larger batch of something healthy to split into smaller containers for each shift. For some great healthy and easy meal prep ideas, click here, here, or even here!
Food that is Actually Food!
If you’ve noticed, all of the food that I’ve referenced throughout this post has been simple, whole, and clean. This wasn’t an accident! When you start to fill your body with nutritious foods that aren’t filled with a boatload of chemicals, preservatives, and mystery ingredients, you will notice the difference! If it isn’t immediately evident on the outside, your insides and long-term health will still be thanking you.
Additional Food for Thought…
Regardless of your shape, size, or the metabolism you either have or have not been blessed with, good nutrition matters, and your life will change because of it. You could be a size 14 with a healthy diet and low cholesterol, or a size 2 with a steady diet of fast food burgers and mystery nuggets with high cholesterol, depending on your genes and lifestyle choices! Simply put, everyone is different, and what you see on the outside is not always evident of the whole, true picture.
Yes, it may be incredibly frustrating to have that gorgeous freak of a friend or colleague who can raid the hospital cafeteria for comforting carbs and sugary treats without gaining an ounce (you know who you are), while one piece of cafeteria cheesecake can throw you over the edge, but at the end of the day these comparisons will get you nowhere. The best thing you can do is to focus on your own nutritional goals without comparing yourself to others, and keep your eyes on the prize. That healthy groove isn’t going come back on its own—you have to work for it!
Show your patients, colleagues, family, and friends what National Nutrition Month is all about, and lead by example!
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Author: Michelle Adams