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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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