Eating foods that make you look and feel better? It’s a no brainer. Here are some wonderful, easy options to improve your busy body, both inside and out.
- Berries are full of vitamin C, which is critical for helping your body make collagen, the protein that is responsible for the strength and firmness of your skin (especially important for nurses over 40). Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and dark cherries are not only plentiful this time of year (you can visit a pick-your-own farm for cheaper prices and get exercise at the same time), but are easy to just rinse off and toss into a plastic container to keep in the fridge at work for a quick, healthy snack. If you’re working a morning shift, you might want to mix them with some low-fat yogurt or granola for a healthy breakfast, or have them with some vanilla wafers for a mid-afternoon pickup.
- Other foods to help improve your appearance include carrots, peppers and dark green veggies. They provide the most nutritional benefits as well as help your skin fight the effects of pollution and aging. The air in hospitals is often dry and constant hand washing takes its toll, so eating kale and spinach, which contain vitamin E, can help your skin cope. Preslice your veggies on your day off, then toss with chicken or seafood for a quick, nutritious stir-fry after work. Keep a bag of bright mixed veggies at work to eat at the end of the day while commuting home. It will help stave off the worst of your hunger and keep you from hitting the fast-food joints.
- Even if all you have is a small balcony at home, you can grow some produce in pots and reap the rewards. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, known for cancer prevention and also for preventing the breakdown of collagen. Fresh herbs, which can provide some real taste punch to even ordinary meals, can be grown on windowsills. Toss parsley with tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, cucumbers and olive oil for a fresh salad.
- Other foods that pack a healthy punch include broccoli and spinach, which have vitamins A and C. Citrus fruits have vitamin C, which has been shown to fight several cancers, including cervical, lung and stomach cancers.
- If you’re working a shift that doesn’t seem to agree with your natural body rhythm, consider tossing some chili peppers into a salad or soup, since they’re said to give you a “natural high” by stimulating the release of endorphins.
- Proteins also are critical to give you energy during long shifts, so consider adding tofu, eggs, seafood or chicken to your snacks at work.
Fun, fast options for busy nurses:
- Make it a group effort. Enlist your fellow nurses to buy different kinds of produce and then swap at work. A watermelon, for example, can easily feed several people. Or your homegrown tomatoes could be swapped for berries picked over the weekend by another nurse.
- Cook in bulk. One of the easiest and healthiest meals to fix ahead of time is a big pot of bean or pea soup that you can enjoy when you get home, and then reheat the next day in the microwave at work. Beans are a cheap powerhouse of health benefits; they’ve been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer, always a concern as we get older or if we have a family history that makes us more at risk.