Four Valuable Nutrition Tips for Nurses Working Long Hours

Four Valuable Nutrition Tips for Nurses Working Long HoursHealthcare requires dedicated employees who care for their patients and make an effort to design their lifestyle according to their job routine. Nurses are one of the stoutest pillars of the healthcare industry. A nurse's job revolves around caring for their patients and ensuring their medicinal and dietary needs are met. But in their constant effort to be better care providers, they often fail to adhere to the same health and nutrition standards themselves.

Mostly their diet includes quick snacking and grab-and-go processed and fast food. But processed food does more harm than good to their health, leading to many health complications such as weight gain, heart issues, muscle weakness, and fatigue. So, ideally, nurses need to develop a healthy lifestyle with good food habits.

Why is it important for nurses to take care of their diet and nutrition?

Nurses work long shifts, and their work requires a considerable amount of physical activity. So downtime in this field is hard to come by, and when it does, it is harder to enjoy because of the fatigue cramming their body and nerves. It is natural to show no inclination to eat when too tired. So, often nurses want to slump down on the nearest couch and have some sleep. In all this situation, the food gets affected.

Many nurses also study simultaneously and engage in remote learning courses. Owing to the demand of their work, they sometimes also engage in dual nurse practitioner programs online and work in the hospital settings simultaneously. Their nutritional needs increase with so much work and study burden, but they neglect them. Skipping meals leads to a drop in blood sugar levels, tiredness and dizziness, lack of focus, more medical errors, and impaired working performance.

Nurses need healthy food at regular intervals to replenish their energy stores. So, in the absence of food, the body converts energy from less efficient sources.

Hence, nurses need to manage their health and take care of their diet. The below-mentioned tips can help nurses take better care of their diet despite long working hours.

1) Drink an ample amount of water

Staying hydrated is an essential aspect of maintaining your overall nutritional profile. It is even more necessary for nurses because of their extended shift schedules and continuous physical activity. A nurse's job involves the significant use of muscles in lifting and physically supporting their patients. Therefore, taking care of muscle health goes without saying.

Since 70% of the muscle mass is composed of water, so, it is likely that staying hydrated will positively impact your muscle health. When you are dehydrated, your muscles cannot stretch, and their elasticity gets affected severely. On the contrary, proper hydration can reduce muscle strain and tiredness.

Apart from muscle health, hydration is also crucial for other body functions. It helps maintain the water balance of your blood and improves its flow. Drinking ample water during the day reduces headaches, improves digestion, and regulates body temperature.

2) Plan your weekly meals

Avoid splurging on fast food, sugary and salty snacks by bringing your home-cooked food for lunch. This would be like school-going days when your lunch box was healthier. If you are not sure what to add to your lunch every day and thinking about it in the morning seems a bigger hassle, try planning your weekly meals every Sunday.

You can also go grocery shopping and get all the stuff you require for preparing your lunch. When doing that, spend some time in the vegetable and fruits section and buy fresh and seasonal items. Seasonal fruits are always healthier than those kept in stores for months before coming to the stands. Your lunch box should have healthy portions of fruits, veggies, and snacks. Nuts can make very healthy snacks, and you can eat them on the go too.

3) Never skip your breakfast

There is ample research on this topic which states that having a meal within one or two hours after waking up is healthy for your body. The nutrition gives the proper kickstart that your body needs. Not skipping your breakfast has other benefits too. It reduces your craving for unhealthy snacks and results in better weight control.

You may further understand the importance of having breakfast by realizing what happens when you skip your breakfasts. When you miss a mandatory meal in the morning, your body releases hormones that compensate for the low sugar levels called Hypoglycemia. The body’s self mechanisms activate and balance your body's sugar level. Still, at the same time, it causes a sudden surge that can cause headaches, nausea, and migraines.

You are always running towards the vending machine or grabbing the leftover cakes or biscuits for convenience. But this snacking does not help you go through the grueling work. The result is that you may feel hunger pangs that can severely impact your health.

4) Avoid caffeine

Many of you might view sugary and caffeinated drinks as an instant energy source. Nurses also resort to more coffee and caffeinated drinks for this purpose. But little do they know that these drinks can sabotage their efforts tremendously. Coffee is undoubtedly good for improving alertness and enhancing your concentration. But, it can cause addiction which is not good for you. In that case, caffeine deficiency can make you confused, restless, and nervous, ultimately impacting your performance. Caffeine addiction is a replica of any other kind of addiction that you may develop. It is a vicious cycle that can loop you in. The more exhausted you are, the more coffee or caffeine you will take, continuing the process.

Water is always a better alternative than any sugary and caffeinated drink. Or, if you are not inclined to water all the time, go for decaffeinated beverages. Green tea is a good option. It is full of antioxidants that can help you fight against free radicals.

Conclusion

What you eat plays a tremendous role in your health and well-being, eventually affecting work performance. Nurses working long hours need to be extra careful about what they eat and how they eat. Skipping meals and eating unhealthy and processed food will not help, nor will heavy doses of caffeine and heavily sugary drinks. Therefore, they must be ready to stick to a healthy food regime.

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About Lauren

Lauren is the Content & Community Manager for Wellness Force Media. According to Lauren, wellness is about finding gratitude and joy in doing any type of physical or self-care activity that we love. Wellness means providing ourselves with self-love, good nutrition, and the inner peace that our individual minds and bodies need.

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