Healthy eating is a challenge for many! Some would say it’s the time that goes into prepping. Others would say, “I just can’t eat like that” or “It’s too expensive to eat healthy!” What if instead of saying all of these things, you replaced it with, “My health just isn’t a priority.” Because essentially, that is exactly what you are saying! Chew on that one for a minute!
Every single one of you is completely capable of being a healthier and happier version of yourself! I also feel as nurses, it is somewhat our responsibility to live and lead healthy lives! Prevention is a HUGE passion of mine, and sadly I don’t feel we do a great job in the hospital with our patients! We kind of just check off the “education box” in our charting. We brush over a little of the foods that patients can and cannot eat and tell our patients to move more. The real change will happen with reinforcement and accountability. Sadly, many of our patients (especially my cardiac ones) don’t get that and we see them back in just a few weeks, sometimes day!
I know you think that this will never be you in that position one day, but continuously eating processed foods and sugar day after day adds up. It can totally affect and exacerbate pre-existing issues like autoimmune disorders and can also contribute greatly to poor immunity, anxiety, and depression! As nurses, we need ALL of the strong immunity we can get! In my opinion, FOOD IS MEDICINE! I’m not saying it replaces all medicine, but I am saying that there are foods that can make you stronger, healthier, more energized, less fatigued, and well…HAPPIER! Happy and Healthy Nurses make the BEST nurses out there! Below are a few of my favorite Healthy Tips for Nurses on the Job!
1. Fill up on Good Fats and Protein in the morning!
Many of us grew up hearing that Low-Fat, Low-Sugar, or even Sugar-Free was the way to go! Totally not true! Our brains naturally gravitate towards sugary, fatty, and greasy foods when it comes to cravings! Even if it’s “fake sugar” it still tastes sweet. Our brain doesn’t care whether it has calories or not, it just still thinks “sweet.” How do you expect your body to not want sugar if you’re still giving it a “sweet” taste, calories or not? We’ve trained our brains to make us “crave” when we even THINK about fatty, salty, and sweet foods! Think about it now….”Warm Krisy Kreme Donut.” Where’d your mind go? Sounds pretty good, right? Now try this….”Carrot Sticks and Almond Butter” I know your just salivating, aren’t you?! It takes a long time to re-train the brain’s response to the sight and thought of salty, fatty, and sugary foods, but it can be done.
Replacing those yucky foods with healthy fats like olive, coconut, and avocado oil is super beneficial! These fats carry all of the good amino acids and anti-inflammatory properties that our body thrives on. Not only do these oils promote strong cellular function within the body and have the good omega 3’s, but they also get used up as energy before being stored as fat! In the morning, I put coconut oil in my coffee. This allows my body to feed off of the fat instead of my blood sugar, before I eat the first meal of the day! This allows my sugar to stay more steady and balanced, regulating my insulin levels as well. All good things hindering inflammation! So FAT is a good thing, just stick to these healthy 3!
Protein is always a good option! Not only does it provide your body with energy, but it also keeps you feeling full! Protein can come in many forms: Animal, Whey, Collagen, Hemp Seed, and the list goes on! They all have their benefits, but my favorite is Collagen Protein! This type comes from the bones of animals (I know it sounds weird…but trust me!) and doesn’t tend to have the effects on the liver and kidneys that other proteins can! It also contributes to healthy bone growth, healthy skin, and all around a great protein option for your overall health! Fill up on protein packed foods in the morning, as we need all of the energy that we can get!
My Favorite Proteins on-the-go:
BlueBerry RX Bar (This is the only flavor I like!)
Vitamix ( BEST BLENDER EVER!)
2. Get Some Sleep The Night Before!!!
Can I tell you how imperative SLEEP is?? I think as nurses, we just chug all of the coffee we can in the morning and hit “survival mode!” With families at home to care for, and the unexpected tasks of life, we sometimes don’t get the adequate sleep that we need! The unique thing about nursing is that most of us are working double what most people work in one day! That means we are “ON” for 12-14 hours a day, running around and saving lives! Our bodies need rest. They need sleep to rejuvenate. Your muscle cells, brain cells, immunity cells, ALL cells….they grow, connect, and rejuvenate over night. If you don’t give your body that 7-8 hours that it needs to rest, you are more likely to be anxious, depressed, have slower mental processing, and be forgetful. Basically, you are just really doing yourself a disservice!
Sleep is directly correlated with your adrenal function! Your cortisol levels go up when you are sleep deprived because your body is more stressed. It’s harder to do the daily functions of life when your body isn’t rested. When cortisol levels go up, it causes inflammation within the body. This can impair cellular function and lead to illness. Why do you think people who have a lot of stress in their life tend to be sick more often? There are studies out there on this! WE NEED SLEEP! Don’t just wing it on 5 hours. Not worth it! Get a schedule and stick to it! You will thank yourself later!
3. Fuel up on Fruits and Veggies!
Make sure you are consuming lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in your day! My biggest piece of advice to anyone wanting to shop more “healthy” is to stick to the perimeter of the grocery store. This tends to be the fruits, veggies, meats, eggs, and diary. As I do not drink milk, stores however, have healthier options like raw almond milk! Milk is totally fine if that’s your thing and it doesn’t bother you, but it tends to cause a lot of issues with people. And there is a reason behind that! Do your research! Sticking to veggies and fruits will ensure you the energy from vitamins and minerals that your body will LOVE! They are packed full of nutrients and make great snacks! Pre-cute them the night before and put them in a container to grab throughout your day! The more you detox from the processed chips and cookies, the easier opting for these fresh produce becomes!
4. Don’t Take The Easier Way!
I am the first to admit that I am NOT a gym rat! I actually hate going to the gym, and I typically only go on rainy days if I reallllly feel I need to! I also don’t workout on the days that I work! I just feel our job is physically demanding in its nature, and my body needs rest after work. I do, however take the stairs ALL day at work! You’d be surprised what that can do for your body! We all are hoping on and off the elevator all day long. It’s just easy to do. Making the extra effort to use the stairs will noticeably give you more energy, but will also benefit you in the long run!
Other ways of getting a little extra exercise in while at work is transporting patients and parking further away in the parking garage! If you truly took the “hard way” every opportunity you had (if time permits that is), it would make a world of difference in your physical health and you would feel so good about yourself! Keep active and move!
Staying healthy at work, especially during a 12 hour shift can be difficult. By implementing and utilizing these healthy tips, I know it will allow you to feel like a healthier and happier nurse! I don’t want to hear its hard or that you just cant! Eat clean and move more! Do you have any other ways that you keep healthy at work? I’d love for you to share!
Your Heart Is Mine,
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