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Promoting Healthy Eating for Nurses

February 19, 2024

Good health must be a priority for those on the frontlines in healthcare, like nurses. When you work long hours and look after multiple patients under a hectic schedule in a stressful environment, it's important that you have a healthy lifestyle, which includes picking healthier food choices, having sufficient water intake, and even having some sort of physical activity, among other things.

In this article, we will tackle not only the steps for good nutrition and overall wellness for nurses, but also how to avoid neglecting self-care among nurses, how to prevent burnout, sleep deprivation, and lack of energy as part of an overall plan for optimum nutrition for nurses.‍

Does Building Healthy Eating Habits Affect the Lives of Nurses and Other Healthcare Professionals?

It's generally understood that nurses have a busy schedule and work a night shift when they have to, thus struggling with disrupted circadian rhythms and having a hard time finding a healthy work-life balance. In turn, this decreases the abilities of their immune system and significantly impacts their overall health.

However, nurses can still take back control over their own health by adopting good eating habits and other practices that are beneficial for the human body. Nurses, as well as other healthcare professionals, can feel much better with small changes in their habits in order to keep offering the best care and attention to their patients.

These are our healthy eating guidelines for all nurses to follow, whether they are registered nurses (RN), registered practical nurses (RPN), or nurse practitioners (NP):

How to Have Healthy Eating Habits for Nurses

1) Plan Meals and Shop Smart

The first change that most nurses need to make to improve their eating habits is to plan their meals and shop accordingly. This way, they will waste less time figuring out what to eat or what to pack for lunch, and they can just get cooking right away.

This also helps them consciously stay away from unhealthy foods with ingredients like preservatives, trans fats, and empty calories and allows them to focus on eating whole foods.

Some healthy foods that nurses can consider buying include whole grains, brown rice, avocados, legumes, lean protein like meat or seafood, olive oil, whole fruit, and yogurt, among many others.

2) Don't Skip Breakfast

One of the many benefits of meal planning is deciding what to cook for breakfast days in advance and having all the ingredients at hand. This increases the chances of nurses actually having breakfast before going to work instead of just drinking coffee or soda and running out the door because they are too tired or sleepy to cook anything.

To maintain a healthy weight and curb obesity, you shouldn't skip breakfast, as you're more likely to overeat whenever lunchtime comes around and, in turn, make poorer food choices.

3) Eat Protein-Rich Food

Nurses have one of the hardest jobs in healthcare, so they need all the strength and energy they can get. One of the best sources of that is protein. Eating meals with enough protein content is the best way to feel satisfied for longer and avoid energy drops after a few hours, which is what usually happens when people mostly fuel their bodies with carbohydrates.

One of the best sources of protein is red meat, but make sure to eat it in moderation. Poultry is also good, but if you're vegan, then you can opt for tofu as well.

Healthy packed lunches

4) Eat on a Regular Schedule

Emergencies happen every day, so nurses need to try to have some consistency in their eating times. To maintain their own blood pressure and curb things like metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease, they should leave around four to five hours between meals to keep their energy levels, remain healthy, and maintain a good performance overall at work.

Eating regularly means keeping your bodily levels of healthy fats, watching your caloric intake, and avoiding inflammation in different parts of your body.

5) Pack Healthy Snacks

To keep a healthy diet and good disease control, your snacks must reflect your dedication to having a balanced diet as well. Energy bars, dry fruit, and nuts are the perfect snacks for nurses - these can literally be lifesavers to successfully curb your hunger, especially when it reaches the point where even your vision gets blurry.

The right snacks can keep nurses going for a little while longer while they get a chance to have a full-sized meal. The only consideration is to stay away from high-sugar foods - because while these are a quick fix for energy, the rush wears off eventually and may leave you feeling more drained.

Healthy packed foods with high fiber and carbohydrate content

6) Watch Caffeine Intake

Coffee can keep you awake, alert, and on your feet working, but after the third cup, there’s a big chance for nurses to have trouble falling asleep once they get home. This is why caffeinated drinks are not recommended for healthcare workers during the hours prior to the end of their shifts. It is also important to remember that coffee is not the only drink that contains this stimulant, energy drinks, some soft drinks and teas also have caffeine.

Finally, it's important for nurses to remember that consistency is what makes the difference. Sticking to a reasonably nutritious diet, eating recommended portions of the main food groups such as food, vegetables, protein, fibre, and carbohydrates, and maintaining the same positive attitude they have towards their patients will help them feel so much better in their work environment and among themselves.

A list enumerating the tips on how to have healthy eating habits for nurses.

Read More: Best Self-Care Recommendation for Nurses

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About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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