Nurse Self-Care Series: Nutrition
Nurse Self-Care Series: Nutrition
Hey friends! My name is Kat; you may recognize me from my IG @thepedsnursekat. I am super excited to be writing this Nurse Self-Care blog series for RekMed. March is National Nutrition Month, which will be my focus for the blog this month. Whether we work 8-hour, 12-hour, or double shifts, nutrition is a BIG part of taking care of yourself. Taking breaks and finding the time to eat can be extremely hard when you are a nurse… breaks get pushed… admissions come early or late… codes are called… charting… vitals… meds… anyways, you get the picture.
#1 Take pauses to drink your water. I am so guilty of not doing this, and sometimes I go a whole shift with maybe just drinking a sip or two of water. This is obviously not enough! Did you know we should be drinking 2.5-3 liters of water a day? Keeping yourself adequately hydrated improves your brain function and overall energy on shift! Making tabs for yourself with a water drinking goal to hit by certain times can be helpful.
#2 Pack or purchase healthy, easy-to-eat snacks and meals. On the night shift, I try not to bring anything too heavy. My typical snacks are Greek yogurt and peanut butter & jelly on whole wheat. These are because I work nights; when I worked a 12-hour day shift, I would typically bring yogurt and a bar for breakfast, and then fruit and leftovers from dinner or a salad for lunch. Other ideas include veggie sticks and peanut butter, jerky, trail mix, and hard-boiled eggs.
#3 Avoid extra sugar-y or simple carbohydrates snacks. Yes, in moderation, it’s okay; we all love to snack on those cookies that the patient’s family got us or the cheese pizza in the break room. But these snacks or meals can cause a sugar rush, then a dip in energy! Sticking to protein-rich, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats are more likely to keep you energized and fuller for your shift.
#4 Try your best not to skip meals, especially if you get migraines like me. While I don’t eat a full meal overnight, I try to eat two small ones on my breaks. Skipping meals also results in a slower metabolism, feelings of sluggishness, and weakness. DON’T SKIP MEALS! ☺
#5 Don’t overdo it with the caffeine. While it may boost your energy in the short run, it is more likely to cause a dip in energy in the long run. When you do drink caffeine, try your best to drink the same amount of water to decrease the likelihood of dehydration! A sip of coffee, a sip of water, etc. Limit energy drinks that are extra sugary and more likely to cause an energy crash. I opt for my homemade coffee with almond milk, vanilla, or caramel creamer. Or my occasional iced coffee. I try not to drink caffeine after 2:30-3 am because my shift is 11 pm-7:30 am. This way, I have at least a 5-hour gap before I am home and start my routine for bed.
Shift work as a bedside nurse is hard, especially when strapped for time. When breaks are cut and staffing is short, eating right is more likely to go out the door. Remember to drink your water when you can, especially when you sit down to chart. Bring or purchase snacks that are more likely to keep you full and energized – my go-to’s are Greek yogurt and a PB&J. Take your breaks, and don’t skip your meals to avoid the mid-to-end of shift sluggishness and prevent headaches. Don’t overdo it with the sugary and extra carb-y snacks to avoid a sugar rush or energy crash. These foods are also less likely to keep you full. And the hardest one to stick to is limiting your caffeine intake. Remember that caffeine is more likely to dehydrate you and make you feel more tired. When you sip that iced coffee, take two sips of water!
Thanks for reading!
Written by: Kat Wanderscheid