Nobody is more aware of the benefits of healthy eating than a nurse. The trouble is, with the demanding and stressful job of nursing, it is easy for nurses themselves get into bad habits. Eating on the go, opting for quick but unhealthy food and working odd shifts can all have a huge impact on dietary habits. Nurse self care very much includes healthy eating options.
A survey by the Nursing Times a couple of years ago found that stress is a big driver when it comes to unhealthy eating habits in nurses. While 80% confessed to having missed important meals because they were working, nearly half also admitted to grabbing a quick bite on the move, usually something unhealthy like a burger.
While many nurses do make the effort to eat healthily because they know how important it is, many find it difficult. After a long, hard shift, it’s so easy to pick up a takeaway because it’s a quick and easy comfort food rather than having to prepare a balanced meal. There are other issues that get in the way of developing those healthy eating habits. If you are also a parent, this can be another factor affecting the time you have to spend on planning and preparing for your own nutritional needs.
For most nurses it is not that they don’t know what healthy eating is but that life simply gets in the way. The good news is that a few simple changes and planning techniques can make an enormous difference!
Nurse Self Care: Keep a Food Diary
We often underestimate the amount we are eating and are unaware of what we are actually putting into our bodies, and it can be difficult to keep track. That’s why starting a food diary will make a big difference and help you address any problems such as having too many unhealthy options on your plate. At the end of each week, read back through your food diary – you will be amazed at how many unhealthy options creep in!
Nurse Self Care: Don’t Try to Change All at Once
It can be a major challenge completely changing your diet in one go. Break your nutritional goals down into smaller ‘bite-size’ chunks and address each meal and each day individually.
Nurse Self Care: Increase Your Water Intake
Most people who lead busy and stressful lives, tend to have a problem with hydration. While that fizzy drink or coffee may seem highly appealing, swapping for a healthy bottle of water can leave you more energised and awake. Regular drinking of water will also help you manage your appetite as often when our body tells us that it is hungry, it is actually telling us that we are dehydrated.
Nurse Self Care: Opt For Healthy Snack Options
Healthy snacking does not have to mean boring or tasteless. That may have been the case in the past but there are plenty of different options to choose from today that give you a tasty, energy boost without damaging your health. Here is a list of healthy snack options that are quick and easy to prepare.
Nurse Self Care: Cut Out Processed Food
A big, modern day health challenge is eating too much processed food – not only does it contain high amounts of sugar and salt, it’s also not nutritious. While a ready meal might sound appealing, try to get into the habit of eating fresh produce as much as you can – it’s much tastier anyway!
Nurse Self Care: Sit Down to Eat
Do you spend most of your time eating on the go? Take time to sit down and enjoy your meal without any interruptions. When your shift ends, don’t slump down in front of the television with a tray, sit down and have a proper meal at the dining table – or try to do this at least 4 times a week.
Nurse Self Care: Plan and Prepare
Any nurse will tell you – there is never enough time! However spending a bit of time planning meals, will actually save you time in the long run. You can plan and prepare meals that you can freeze and then just defrost and heat to eat. Each week plan your shopping list and prepare meals for the following week, so you don’t end up buying last minute unhealthy snacks and take aways.
Planning makes it much easier to make healthy choices and that includes what you take to work with you to snack on. Make it a priority and you should discover that you find it quicker to get into healthy eating habits.
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