The American Nurses Association (ANA) recently surveyed nurses and found that only 16 percent eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. When it comes to nurses eating healthy, “do as I say, not as I do” has long been a common statement. Nurses advise patients on healthy habits, but find themselves eating on the run and eating whatever they can. Eating healthy should be “do ans I say and as I do.” Join me in learning from Registered Dietitian Paulina Lowkis to help glean knowledge on meal preparation tips for nurses.
Martie Moore: Why is it often challenging to focus on proper nutrition?
Paulina Lowkis: Nurses work long hours and have a high nurse-to-patient ratio. Between providing pre- and post-operative care, monitoring medication, taking patient pulses, temperatures and blood pressure and writing patient records, their ability to focus on anything but their shift work is limited, it is challenging for nurses to sit down during their shifts to enjoy a nutritious meal. They often skip meals or run to the vending machine to purchase something they can eat within a few minutes. However, it’s important to understand that quick doesn’t need to mean unhealthy. Nurses must consider planning their meals ahead of time.
Martie Moore: Why is meal planning important and what are some tips to help make it easier?
Paulina Lowkis: A little planning can go a long way. If nurses can spend 15-20 minutes prepping at home, it’ll allow them the limited time they have at work to eat something nutritious. Here’s a few tips to consider:
• Include Protein – Protein can keep you feeling fuller for longer. Include foods like hard boiled eggs, cheese, beans, hummus, 100-calorie pack nuts, Greek yogurt or nut butters with each meal or snack. The Institute of Medicine recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, 54 grams if someone weighs 150 pounds, which is the equivalent to about 2 ½ chicken breasts.
• Switch to wraps – Forego heavy breads and switch to wraps such as whole grain tortillas or flatbreads. Certain flatbreads have more than triple the fiber content of flour tortillas and white bread. Remember to include veggies, lean meats and other protein to get the most bang out of your calories. Check out these wrap recipe: http://www.delish.com/cooking/g1092/wrap-recipes/?slide=3
• Organize a potluck – Ask fellow nurses if they’d be interest in organizing a potluck. Each person can bring one healthy food item for a quick meal.
What are you doing to eat healthy during shifts? We’re challenging nurses to share how they’re incorporating nutrition into their daily routine. Post a photo on social using #NurseChallenge and don’t forget to tag fellow nurses in your post!