By Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, PPC, Founder, President and Chief Commercial Officer at Healthy Meals Supreme
What if you were to take as good care of yourself as you do your patients every day – you’d feel better, wouldn’t you!
Here’s the story. You’re working with compromised patients and always on the run and under the gun. Or maybe it’s the back-to-back 12 hour shifts that don’t leave you much time to breathe, much less to see family or friends, while commuting back and forth to work.
Maintaining a good work/life balance is really hard under these conditions and we didn’t even talk about adequate nutrition yet. So here are a few tips that have worked for me as a pharmacist and my friends who are nurses too.
1) AVOID CAFETERIA CALORIE Explosions
Quickly grabbing some food in the cafeteria may be handy, but may have ‘hidden’ nutrition busters on your plate. Here’s an easy way to avoid them:
- Salad bar options are best but be careful of the dressings you choose
- Check the portion size and moderation is the key word. Use a smaller plate if possible because your meal looks bigger on a smaller plate, tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating more.
- Stay away from anything covered with cheese, deep-fried, or layered in a thick sauce.
- Choose lean protein and cooked veggies that have been broiled, boiled, steamed or baked.
2) HYDRATE, Hydrate, Hydrate
What you drink is as or even more important than what you eat. Sugar laden sodas add empty calories that easily lead to weight gain and other bad side effects. One sugar soda a day can add up to 15 extra lbs. over a year time.
- Better hydration choices are water, seltzer, unsweetened green tea (Studies suggest that green tea and the theanine in it help to improve alertness – just what we all can use a bit more of during the day!).
- Leave the energy drinks behind because they can cause sugar spikes and crashes.
3) BYOH (Bring your own from Home)
The best solution may to be bring your lunch, dinner or snack from home. Whether you prepare it or purchase a prepared item, you can make informed and healthy choices ahead of time that will lead to a healthier life. Salads are a great way to get more greens and veggies into your diet. And think about topping it off with sliced grilled chicken breast that was left over from another meal. It’s all about being prepared like a good scout would be!
4) VENDING MACHINE Wisdom
Convenience and hunger can be a two-edged sword. What if you’re hungry and need something to eat, but you have 5-10 minutes before you’re in action again – what to do?
- Grabbing a snack out of the vending machine is better than nothing at all, but choose wisely and it’s best to stay away from the candy bars and salty chips.
- Healthier choices can be challenging, so look for: Trail Mix, Whole Grain Crackers, Protein Bar, Soy Chips and even raisins.
5) Quick Tips for 12 hour shift work survival
It’s hard to get 3 meals when you’re working the late shift and there’s very few people around to help with the work load. In addition, your sleep cycle is all messed up and it’s easier to skip meals instead – don’t do it. Here are a few classic tricks to get your meals and keep your sanity:
- Don’t skip meals – the body runs on glucose and skipping meals screws up the metabolism as we all know. Always have a low sugar-type of snack or meal handy that can be consumed in little time to hold you over.
- Don’t Big Meal Binge – getting all your calories in one daily meal doesn’t work very well. Plan for a few smaller meals or healthier snacks and remember to HYDRATE.
- Limit caffeine and energy drinks – sure, they work in the short-term but the body adjusts and most people will be riding a roller-coaster ride of sugar and energy spikes afterwards.
- Take a deep breath and relax before eating – stress produces a rush of hormones and curbs the hunger feeling. Also, this will give your body some time for better digestion. As the Zen Master said, “Take a deep breath and be present, if only for the moment…because that is all we have.”
Last, have a sense of HUMOR – Humor is healthy and helps you to keep things in perspective. Many times, in stressful and life-and-death situations it’s very hard to keep going. We need to be aware of our surroundings and we don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings in a health care setting. However, talking with a colleague and having a laugh at an appropriate time is great medicine – Nurse, heal thyself!
Joe Martinez is the founder, president and chief commercial officer of Healthy Meals Supreme.
Inspired by his own story, Joe started the company with the goal of making it easier for people to eat healthy and live a better quality of life. Joe is also a registered pharmacist, an insulin-using person with diabetes, a diabetes educator, a culinary medicine specialist and the former Medicaid Pharmacy Director in New Jersey, responsible for 900,000 people, the majority suffering from chronic diseases.
Joe is a 2017 Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy silver ribbon award winner and his research was published in the April 2017 edition of The Journal of Clinical Therapeutics. He was selected twice for the PharmaVOICE Top 100 as a Mentor and Change Agent. Joe is a graduate of The Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is also a former military cadet at the US Air Force Academy.