As a nurse, you’re probably working long shifts. Whether you love them or hate them, one thing is for sure: 12-hour shifts make for a long day or night. To get through your shift, proper nutrition is essential to maintain the energy and mental sharpness.
In addition to eating a healthy lunch or dinner, snacks also play an important role in helping you have the stamina you need. Snacking also can prevent you from overeating at meals and help keep your metabolism fired up, but choosing the right snacks is the key.
Although soda, candy, and surgery coffee drinks may give you a quick boost, they are not your best bet when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels steady and getting the right nutrients. Consider some of the following snacks to get you through your next 12-hour shift:
Nuts: There may be times when you crave a salty snack, but chips and pretzels are high in carbohydrates and low in nutritional value. A better choice is a one-ounce serving of nuts. Nuts, such as almonds, contain potassium, magnesium and vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Walnuts are also a great choice. They are rich in omega-3-fatty acids, folate, and vitamin E. Just pay attention to portion size! Nuts also contain a lot of calories, so stick to a one-ounce serving, which is about a handful.
Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs used to get a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, but research has indicated that saturated fat is more to blame for poor heart health than dietary cholesterol. Plus, eggs are high in protein and packed full of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron, and riboflavin. A medium sized hard-boiled egg also contains about 75 calories, which makes it a low-cal snack.
Protein Bars: A protein bar is a convenient and easy snack to take with you to work, but not all protein bars are created equal. One good choice is GoMacro Bars, which contain 12 grams of plant-based protein and high-quality organic ingredients. With flavors such as peanut butter chocolate chip and cashew caramel, you can’t go wrong!
Low-Fat Greek Yogurt: If you are craving something sweet, reaching for a surgery treat may backfire during a long shift. Sure, you may get a quick boost, but you’ll also crash shortly after. Greek yogurt will satisfy your sweet tooth, but it also provides a healthy dose of calcium and protein. Keep in mind, different brands of Greek yogurt contain varied amounts of sugar and calories, so checking food labels is a good idea.
Peanut Butter and Apple Slices: If you’re low on sleep, your body may crave carbohydrates for energy. Certain carbs, such as bread and pastries, have a relaxing effect and may contribute to weight gain. A better choice is a snack of apple slices topped with peanut butter, which supplies you with the right mix of carbs, protein and fiber.
As nurses, we sometimes overlook our own well-being. Make sure that your body has the nutrition it needs, especially for those long shifts. What is your favorite snack to keep you moving?