As nurses, we do our best to incorporate healthy habits into our day. But day-to-day challenges can sometimes limit our progress. Although there can be obstacles, the rewards for following a few healthy habits can pay off.

Here are some tips to help you stay healthy.

  1.        The most important meal of the day

    Breakfast gets its famous reputation because it is true. A good breakfast can set the tone for your whole day. Eating enough of the right foods will keep you from needing a mid-morning snack and will help you face the initial challenges of the day. So what should you eat for this all important meal? The traditional healthy breakfast items you’ve known for years: fruit, oatmeal (no sugar added), whole grains, and lean protein (think Canadian bacon, not real bacon).

  2.        Read those labels

    There’s growing momentum towards a change in how nutritional information will be displayed  on foods in the future, so embrace this time of change and alter your habits to pay closer attention to nutrition facts if you aren’t already doing so. These facts can make you acutely aware that one of your favorite foods is hindering your health or clue you in to the fact that something you enjoy as a guilty pleasure is actually delivering a modest amount of a vitamin or mineral to you.

  3.        Make meals a family affair

    You know what they say, “The family that eats together, may also live longer and have fewer trips to the doctor.” That may not be the phrase you were taught growing up, but it’s true. Eating together as a family has been shown to promote healthier meal choices. Obviously, this can be undone if this meal is shared after a trip through the drive-thru, but just sharing a few group meals in a week is a step in the right direction. Not only can this lead to healthy food choices, but also to increased interaction among family members, which is something great for your emotional health as well (it’s important to keep a balance).

  4.        (More than) Adequate hydration

    You’ve likely heard that you need to be consuming somewhere in the range of eight glasses of water per day. The odds are that you aren’t consuming that much, even with a relaxed standard around four to six glasses.  But water helps your body in many ways, beyond satiating thirst. Drinking enough water can help you feel full which can ward off snack cravings or help you power through what would normally be a mealtime when you’re on a long shift.

  5.        Remember to eat your vegetables …

    … and your fruits. The same lessons from childhood ring true throughout our lives. And while we were raised on the food pyramid, a more friendly food visual has come into being. The “choose my plate” graphic makes it easy to see what you should be consuming at meal times, with fruits and vegetables making up over half of the recommended portions. Don’t miss out on the crucial vitamins, minerals and fiber which fruits and veggies provide. Enjoying a well-rounded diet will help you have more energy throughout your day.

  6.        Stay active

    This one should be easy to check off the list. As a nurse, you’re no stranger to being on your feet all day and walking miles throughout the same space. Still, it’s important to keep this one in mind. Activities other than walking should make an appearance in your life as well. If work routine allows, take the stairs a few times each day to change things up. Activity can also come in the form of yoga or other basic exercises you can tuck in throughout the day.

  7.        Try new things

    While looking to blend the previous items on this list into your life, use that as an opportunity to expand your horizons. When trying to figure out how to add more fruits and veggies into your diet, grab the ones you haven’t tried before to not only reap the benefits, but maybe discover a new favorite. The same goes for staying active. If you’ve never tried yoga, Pilates or something like Crossfit, now is the time! You’ll burn calories and may find an exercise which resonates with you.

What habits do you follow in order to stay healthy?

  1. It’s hard to believe that a nurse can focus on these habits when it is in truth difficult to find time to go to the restroom let alone have a meal or a so called nibble.if studies have been done, which I have not seen I’m sure when a nurse gets off work does not feel like doing yoga or any other exercise let alone fixing any kind of a healthy meal. For those who can, I love that. Hmmm maybe that’s what I should study when getting. My masters in nursing instead of using qualifications with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Not only my degree has given me a complete great education on ethical and statistical measurements but the main quality I have is loving and caring for others and not being tied to a political mess that is what healthcare is now. Thank God I had the chance to leave work and continue care for those whom ask me which way to go

    • For Monica – why the soapbox?! The article was about good eating habits. So tired of the “I’m a nurse so I’m a martyr” syndrome. Really it is bragging about how you work harder than anyone else. End of!

      • Oh yes, finally someone says it. I worked at a hospital and all I heard was nurses complaining about how hard they worked and how much crap they had to put up with from the patients and how if it wasn’t for their wisdom and discernment and education the doctors decision that they thwarted would kill the patient. Meanwhile I watched as they belittled all the staff below them including their very understaffed, underpaid and overworked CNA as she was in the middle of dealing with the same bull from 3 other nurses cause their patient was more important than the one the CNA was helping to sit on the toilet.

        • Totally agree with Rhonda.If you feel nursing was a wrong career choice by all means change to another one.When you really enjoy nursing there is time for everything.

    • I’m not sure I understand your comment at all. Your grammar is awful. Are you harassing this article for its validity while stating that you should study for a Masters in Nursing while also stating that you are glad that you were able to get out of the healthcare field?

    • I’ve been a nurse for 17 years and I have worked night shift the entire time. I sleep as soon as I get home (0800) and get up at 3:00pm – work out, fix something to take for my dinner and go do it all over again. It is possible to be healthy and be a nurse.

    • I just want to reply that every nurse I’ve worked with who exercised regularly did so before their shift. This includes myself whenever I have stuck with anything for more than a week or two at a time.

  2. As a nurse I also understand what she was saying about not having time to take a lunch break and to try to eat something healthy. I do know that eating healthy foods is a must. And I also know from experience that we are not martyrs but people that would put our needs last and your families needs first , when we are on the job. Thank God you have us to depend on! And you need to remember that the next time you walk thru the Emergency room doors needing our help at that second!! Maybe someone will skip their lunch to help you!!

  3. For Monica: If you plan on earning a masters degree in nursing, it may be a good idea to brush up on your basic educational gains, such as grammar, spelling and punctuation, first. As for experience, try a career of 44 years, then tell us all how hard you’ve worked. As for leaving the field, feel free. No one would miss you or your attitude. Opine about the stated topic, healthy tips for nurses….not your personal soapbox affairs.

  4. In a 12 hour shift, state law dictates one 15 minute break and one 30 minute break. That is barely time to urinate, poop, or make even a quick phone call, let alone eat 2 meals. Hospitals could help by providing healthy snacks at scheduled times on each shift. Exercise and healthy meals are a must on days off, we already know that, nurses are educated people.

    • Thank you for all you do, Nurses everywhere!!! Where would we be without you? You give up so much to be nurses, and I, for one, appreciate everything you do. Again, thank you.

  5. The arguments on the comments section are proof that modern medicine is failing. In an optimal state of health one is able to handle stress better because they are in a healthy emotional state. One does not exist without the other; physical health and mental/emotional health go hand in hand. The arguments on the comments are proof that there is a significant lack of understanding of this one simple truth. Honestly I don’t expect nurses to be happy or healthy because they are forced to work long hours and sacrifice their sleep, they are exposed to a plethora of chemicals every single day, and overall function in a high stress environment, also their circadian rhythm is easily set off balance by the blue lighting in most hospitals…

    • Well said and thank you!!! Anyone who doesn’t understand and appreciate what sincere nurses do every day, in their line of work, better think again because, at any given moment, they could be lying on their back, in pain, hoping that a nurse will be at their beckon call…..and she/he will!!! God’s blessing to all of you for your daily sacrifices putting OUR NEEDS…..FIRST! ❤😊

  6. These tips are all definitely very important, and not just for nurses! You can definitely find good healthy meal options for on the go. It mostly comes down to the little decisions you make (like reading the labels).

  7. 8/15/15 I have been a nurse for 40years in CICU. Bedside nursing for 32yesrs. Then a mixture of inpatient and outpatient in Cardiopulmonary Rehab .There were days that were long with few breaks, sometimes short staffed .I cherish my nursing experience and over time the wisdom to care and educate many people. To comfort and guide them through the healing journey. I also became more deeply spiritual as I soothed patients who passed on or witnessed near death and ” out of the body” experiences.The Healthcare has morphed into an often mediocre level of care in the hospital as well as in clinics and offices .In the 1970,s and 80,s, and 90’s we were like extended family with each other. We had annual family oriented Christmas parties as well as adult outings .Now I am 😊 dealing with C- spine bulging discs due to prolonged heavy lifting and odd positions while aiding in CPR or a prolonged procedure straining over a patient. Nursing is a nurturing profession as well as a service.Nurses live Healthy Lifestyles and care for their families. One realizes that being a nurse touches all levels of skill and emotions.I love it and have experienced many * miracles of life. Humbly but strong .Thanks.

  8. Every job has good things and bad things. Being a Nurse is no exception. I am not a Nurse, but I know they work hard, take a lot of crap and still hold the hand of a scared patient about to have some procedure that is very scary. So, THANK YOU all Nurses who help patients when we need you most.

  9. I am a night shift nurse and work on a floor in a busy hospital on the night shift. Does anyone have any tips on healthy eating when you for go your lunchhour? Anyone? Appreciate it. Thanks

    • Sandra, I take protein shakes, b complex, vit c, alpha lipoic acid, lecithin, flax seed oil and coconut oil.
      Teas:green, rooibos, mate.
      Snacks: organic chocolate, fruits, nuts.
      Beverages:soymilk, coconut milk, coconut water, pomegranate juice


  10. I can’t believe that someone mentioned “the class” act. Truth, truth, truth; in every field, there is “classism”. Thank you Rhonda.

  11. Thank God for all nurses. I have been disabled and sick from one thing or another most if my life, and they have always been there to take care if me, many in very sick and bad times, I am so thankful and grateful for nurses, thank you for taking care of me.

  12. I’ve been a nurse for 25 years and I’ve often said that some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met were bedside nurses. There is something humane, down to earth, non-judgmental and real about those nurses, but I somewhat agree with the nurse that said she doesn’t always have time to take care of herself. I’ve found that to be true. Nursing can be an intellectually, physically and emotionally draining job. These day, nobody gets a free ride, but this discussion is about nurses and as a nurse, I’ve learned that letting people vent can make all the difference in the world. So vent nurses vent, we deserve to be heard sometimes, and remember, we are all about caring for people , not being mean to people. So lets show our brethren the same compassion, understanding and patience we show our patients.

  13. I have been a nurse in several areas for over 35 years. Many of those were on night shift. Only one hospital cared about healthy snacks for night personnel. Dietary came around to the units with a little cart carrying fresh fruits, even halved papayas toppef with cottage cheese, that was at Kaiser Permanente in Honolulu. i suggest that nursing staff bring their own food and water or tea. The food can be a leftover from a home meal or a healthy whole wheat sandwich with hummus, eggs, tuna (low on the mayo), or roast beef topped with spinach leaves or quality lettuce. Bring some fruit, too and non salted nuts,
    I always carried pumpkin seeds in my pocket for little snack attacks. It is de g initively possible for nursing personnel to eat healthily on the job. Just avoid the caferia and their mostly unhealthy choiced..,and you will have more time, too, eating the yummie, healthy food you brought in.

  14. Lucy and Kathleen, get a grip on yourselves. Seems you 2 think your smarter than Monica. Hahaha I PRAY you drop out of the nursing field. I feel sorry for anyone so unfortunate to end up with either of you as their nurse. I’d take Monica ANYWAY!

    • Harry, are you serious? First, Monica does need to brush up on grammatic skills (wise advise if she chooses to accept it). Second, Lucy and Kathleen may very well be smarter than Monica: not because intellectual level but practical experience.
      I’m a student nurse who has more grey hair then the typical/traditional student, I see things very differently then my younger peers who basically are just beginning to adjust to the trails of being an adult. While Monica has some very valid points, it is clear she lacks the finess of life lessons. Perhaps, you do as well. Life is about choices – personal choices each person makes for the quality of life they want to have! Sometimes, what we think we want and choose to have turns out to be the wrong choice- that’s life. Embrass the learning experience and move on: but PLEASE try a little kindness- it goes a long way!!!

  15. Interesting comments! I’m a nurse of 20+ years I was never more healthy than when I had a floor position running around taking of patients. I always try to eat well, I exercise regularly, and compete in races. The one thing I also learned is a good attitude, no matter how bad your shift went, is also key in taking care of your health:)

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