Healthy eating is essential wherever we are – at work, at home, or on the go. With a balanced diet, you can keep your bones and muscles strong, your heart beating, and gain sufficient energy to conquer the day.
But with all the deadlines and responsibilities life throws, maintaining a balanced diet can often become an afterthought.
This is especially true for nurses who work in a fast-paced and high-stress environment that require long hours and grueling commitments.
From cookies and candy to granola bars, if the food is convenient, accessible, and provides an immediate burst of energy, you better believe nurses will eat it.
However, this can do more harm than good. While it may stave off your hunger for a moment and give you a quick energy boost, nurses without healthy eating habits may suffer from brain fog, fatigue, lack of energy, and mental health problems.
This issue is more common than you think. Recent data shows that half of the nurses in the United States have poor-quality diets, and the other half are obese or overweight.
In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of incorporating healthy eating habits and how they can help nurses become more effective at their jobs.
The world is facing an incredible shortage of nurses. The last thing you want is to find yourself out of commission because of unhealthy eating habits.
Frequent absences in the workplace can harm your organization’s ability to care for patients.
If that’s not bad enough, it also prompts your colleagues to work longer hours to cover your shift.
Without proper rest, your fellow nurses can put themselves in harm for illnesses, further incapacitating nursing teams.
By eating healthily, you decrease the likelihood of getting sick. If you suffer from an illness, you can recover more quickly and reduce the risk of serious diseases.
In doing so, you can become more effective at delivering better health outcomes and achieving organizational goals.
Increased productivity levels
The importance of productivity when studying nursing at an institution like Baylor University is too hard to ignore, especially if you want to follow in the footsteps of the famous nurses that changed the world.
Even before becoming a registered healthcare professional, student nurses have to meet specific health-related tasks that enhance their studies.
When they are productive, they can manage their time and their ability to prioritize. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of them getting more work done, producing better care, and saving more lives once they graduate and become professional nurses.
Now, you might ask how eating well and productivity correlate with one another. How do bad eating habits impact productivity?
Not to put too fine a point on it, but poor nutrition and eating habits can adversely impact your brain’s energy levels.
Also, if you frequently eat processed foods – as more nurses do – you tend to be more irritable and increase your risk of depression and anxiety.
This can ultimately result in poor work performance and lower productivity levels, something every healthcare organization cannot afford, especially with the nursing shortage.
On the flip side, proper nutrition increases your energy and alertness to handle long shifts, changing schedules, and the physical demands of working in the healthcare industry.
More importantly, it also ensures that your immune system is in tip-top shape. Like it or not, nurses experience a higher level of exposure to viruses and bacteria than the average person.
If that’s not bad enough, nurses also work with dangerous chemicals used for sanitizing and cleaning. This increases the likelihood of them contracting a disease.
However, when you have a robust immune system from eating healthily, you can suffer from fewer infections since your body has enough reserves to produce proteins, white blood cells, and other chemicals to attack and destroy the disease-causing substances.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet is also crucial in helping nurses manage the physiological stress caused by stress.
Stress is a common issue that nurses have to deal with at some point in their careers. Several factors bring stress to the body.
This can range from external pressures such as family or work responsibilities and internal influences like what you eat.
As mentioned above, nurses often do not have the healthiest diets. When you combine it with the stress they experience at work, everything can go out of hand, and they could find themselves depressed, overwhelmed, or struggling to cope.
In today’s high-stress healthcare working environment, the stress response continuously remains on full alert, leaving little time for the body to recover.
Eating a diet full of whole and natural foods can manage these changes and prevent overworking your adrenal glands.
Your body can produce the right stress response hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Since eating well leads to a healthy immune system, you will also feel less fatigue than other nurses, even after working multiple shifts.
How to eat well in the workplace?
Now that we’ve established the benefits of eating well as a nurse, you might wonder where to start.
Unlike other professions, nurses and other healthcare professionals have fewer healthy options when working.
They are often left buying something from the vending machine to stave off their hunger, especially when there is a patient surge.
You must build a healthy eating routine and stick to it. Creating a routine allows you to make your eating decisions before you get hungry.
Part of the reason nurses fall into bad habits is they do not plan and build a healthy eating routine.
So you might ask what healthy eating constitutes. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all approach because everyone has different bodily needs.
Nevertheless, it would help if you remembered that simplicity is the key. Make a simple dish that you can take and eat quickly at work. This might include healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts, and carrot sticks.
Either way, you should always ensure that you do not skip meals because this often leads to overeating and suffering from lack of concentration due to energy and blood sugar declines.
Become an effective nurse today
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