Traveling of any kind takes a huge toll on your body. Add in some long shifts and patients who can’t tell you what level of pain they’re having, and you have yourself a worn-out nurse. The importance of a healthy diet on the road is often overlooked by those with busy schedules, or who dread traveling. However, a healthy diet can really change your life on and off assignment. Not only will it benefit you physically, but eating healthy can have a huge impact on your mental health as well.
Know What You Need
Making serious lifestyle changes can be scary, especially if you don’t educate yourself on what you should be doing. Lucky for you, there are TONS of sources out there! To start, you should know about the five food groups which are:
Each of these groups has foods that contain different nutrients that your body needs to thrive! Every choice that you make is important, whether it be what to have, or how much to have. It is important to balance the five food groups, you don’t want to eat ALL proteins! Eating a balance of the five different groups helps you get a well-rounded dose of nutrients. This includes but is not limited to, making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, moving to more low-fat dairy products, and using whole grains when possible according to choosemyplate.gov.
Support Systems: Internal and External
While it is easy to say you’re going to make a change, the execution of this change can actually be very difficult. It’s important not only to build a support system (family, friends, etc.) but to believe in and support yourself! When many people think of healthy eating, they think of how much they have to change to fit this new way of living. They focus on the big picture, and not the journey to get there. In a way, it is very much like your next assignment! Not only is it important that you get there, but you also have to account for the traveling! You wouldn’t be off-put by having to fly an extra hour, would you? It’s the same with your nutritional journey- an extra step or two should not deter you from the end result. It is important to remember that everyone has their own journey, and every small change or step is a win. In fact, there are even websites that track all the small wins on the path to your new healthy lifestyle. Pretty cool right?
Ever heard of “positive self-talk”? Self-talk, in general, is that little voice that you hear in your head that tells you “Wow, I’m tired” or “Hey, I feel great right now!” More often than not, our self-talk is negative, telling us that we aren’t good enough or aren’t in shape enough, etc. In order to make real and lasting changes to our lives and eating habits, we need to work on changing our self-talk to be more positive! This ties in with the idea of every small step being a win. It might not be EXACTLY where you want to be, but what is more important is the fact that it is a step in the right direction. Now that we’ve got the mental aspect down, it’s time to move on to the nutrition side of the story!
The Importance of a Healthy Diet on the Road
All of this probably sounds fine and dandy, but you might be wondering where to start, or how to implement healthy eating tips while on the road/ on assignment. The key to understanding the importance of a healthy diet on the road is to understand that starting small is the way to go. Making little changes to your daily eating habits can lead to big results in the long run. Some of the small changes include:
- Pick whole foods (an apple, carrot sticks, etc.) instead of junk food (potato chips, cookies, etc.)
- Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible. This includes sodas, coffees with added sugar and even some juices
- Keep healthy snacks available and visible. If you can see healthy options are available to you, you are more likely to pick them over sugary foods that aren’t as readily available
- Nuts and seeds make good snacks and also have tons of vitamins and minerals
- Eat more fish. Fish has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids which have a ton of nutritional benefits and can even boost your productivity
- Instead of stopping at a convenience store, stop at a grocery store while on the road! Grocery stores provide a lot of healthier options as opposed to fast food
- Eat more often and in smaller amounts to help keep your metabolism up
Eating right can not only boost your mood, but it can also give you more energy! This will allow you to better take care of your patients and be more alert during a shift. It also means you’ll be less likely to hit the midday wall, once your morning coffee high wears off. Your body is your machine, and it is important for you to take care of it and fuel yourself.
Now that you know the importance of a healthy diet on the road, what are some things you’d like to implement into your travel routine? Leave a comment and let us know down below!