The daily meal plan that’s breaking your diet


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Breakfast: Three huge cups of coffee with cream and sugar, or three Diet Cokes, in the first part of your work shift.

Lunch: “What’s that? Who gets a lunch break around here?”

Mid-Afternoon Snack: Anything you can find in the nurse’s station: stale crackers, leftover banana bread that someone brought in last week or a sampling from the box of chocolates left as a gift for the nurses from a former patient.

Dinner: Hit the hospital cafeteria in such a ravenous state that the only thing that looks appealing is the station with the burgers and fries, and what the soft-serve machine is dishing out today.

Late-Night Snack: Finally back at home after a 12-hour shift, a late-night snack consists of whatever convenient food is kicking around the house, because shopping or cooking is really not appealing after such a long day.

Do elements of this day sound familiar to you? If so, you may struggle with chaotic eating patterns. As the dietitian at Green Mountain at Fox Run, I work with many nurses who are chaotic eaters. This pattern can involve skipping meals or having huge stretches of time between meals, which often leads to overeating. Or chaotic eating can involve frequently snacking on unbalanced snacks throughout the day, which can lead to frequent feelings of hunger and lots of food cravings. Neither of these patterns tends to yield positive results when it comes to health or weight management.

In this series, we’re tackling the problem of meal skipping. Each article in this series will provide a brown-bag lunch idea. Many of the ingredients used in these recipes can be prepared in advance to save time. For more information on pre-prepping or to learn more about chaotic eating, take a look at the first article in this series, 10 Signs of a Chaotic Eater—Are You One of Them? To access the previous recipes in this series, follow these links:

Spicy Rice & Bean Salad

Apricot-Turkey Salad with Whole Grains

Walnut-Basil Pesto Pasta Salad

1 Serving (For 4 Servings, Use These Amounts)

½ cup cooked pasta (try quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta) (2 cups pasta)

4 ounces cooked chicken breast, diced (1 pound cooked chicken)

1 packed cup of fresh baby spinach (4 cups spinach)

1 tablespoon capers, drained (¼ cup capers)

1 tablespoon diced onion (¼ cup onion)

½ cup diced red peppers (2 cups peppers)

3 tablespoons Walnut Basil Pesto (¾ cup Walnut Basil Pesto)

Directions for 1 or 4 servings:
Mix all ingredients and store in the refrigerator. The pesto can be made in advance and frozen in ice cube trays. For 1 serving, use 1½ cubes of pesto; for 4 servings, use 6 cubes of pesto.

Robyn Priebe
Robyn Priebe, RD, CD, is the Director of Nutrition at Green Mountain at Fox Run. A healthy weight loss retreat for women only, Green Mountain at Fox Run offers a proven healthy lifestyle program that teaches how to eat instead of starve, move our bodies for pleasure and physical well-being, and manage stress and negative self-image for health and healthy weights. In operation for 37 years, Green Mountain pioneered the non-diet approach to achieving and maintaining healthy weights. You can learn more at and on their blog at

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