Nursing isn’t just a profession; it’s a calling. The long hours, the emotional connection with patients, and the constant demand for unwavering attention make it one of the most challenging yet rewarding careers.
But let’s face it – amidst the hustle and bustle of hospital corridors, charting patient records, and those unpredictable emergencies, even superheroes need to fuel up!
How do you keep your energy high and your mind sharp? How do you maintain the strength to provide exceptional care day in and day out? Check out this list of superfoods you should be including in your diet.
Loaded with complex carbohydrates and fiber, oats make an ideal breakfast for nurses. They provide sustained energy release throughout the day, which is perfect for those grueling 12-hour shifts.
You can soak them overnight for a time-efficient, ready-to-eat oatmeal in the morning. Sprinkle on some fresh fruits or a dash of honey for added flavor.
Walnuts are packed with healthy fats, antioxidants, and vital nutrients that aid brain function. A small handful of these power-packed snacks can help improve your concentration and decision-making skills.
Add them to your oats, salads, or just munch them straight from a zip-lock bag during a quick break.
3. Green Tea
Green tea is a healthy alternative to coffee that can still give you that much-needed caffeine boost. It is also rich in antioxidants and has calming properties, helping you manage stressful situations.
Brew a cup in the morning, or keep a thermos handy for a quick warm sip during your shift.
Eggs are a power-packed source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Boil a batch at the beginning of the week, and you have a grab-and-go snack ready for the next several days. You can also make a quick scramble or omelet with vegetables for a nutritious start to your day.
5. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and protein. These tiny seeds can help improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and support heart health.
Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your oatmeal, yogurt, or salads. They can also be easily integrated into smoothies or homemade granola bars.
6. Dark Chocolate
Yes, you read that right!
Dark chocolate, especially the ones with high cocoa content, is rich in antioxidants and can help lower blood pressure. It’s a perfect pick-me-up for those long shifts, satisfying your sweet tooth while providing a quick energy boost. Just remember, moderation is key.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is incredibly high in nutrients and antioxidants. It can help enhance your immune system and reduce inflammation. Available in powder form, you can add a scoop to your smoothies or sprinkle it over your salads for a nutritious boost.
Garlic is not just a flavor powerhouse but also has impressive health benefits. It helps boost the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. Include it in your cooking whenever possible or consider garlic supplements if you’re too busy to cook.
Edamame, young soybeans, are a complete protein source and packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
They make an excellent snack on their own or can be tossed into salads or stir-fries. Most supermarkets sell ready-to-eat packs, making them an easy addition to your busy day.
Lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber, helping to keep you full and focused.
Cook a big batch of lentil soup or stew at the beginning of the week, and you’ve got a nutritious meal waiting for you after a long day at work.
While they might not wear the ‘superfood’ cape, the following foods are champions in their own right, offering a nutritious way to satiate hunger without piling on the sugars.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Apples, bananas, berries, baby carrots, snow peas and bags of pre-washed greens — nutrition experts can’t say enough about the benefits of these. High in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, they are the foundation of healthy eating.
Blueberries, on the other hand, seem to be the best choice for experts because they have lots of fiber and vitamins. They are a great fruit to keep on hand for snacking—and for cooking or baking.
You can throw blueberries into low-fat homemade pancakes or waffles. You can also throw these berries into fruit salads to bring to work or mix a few into some yogurt.
Fatty fish, including tuna and salmon
To benefit from the omega-3 fatty acid (which boosts HDL cholesterol and protects your arteries from plaque buildup), you need to eat fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.
It’s recommended that adults eat two servings of fatty fish per week. A serving is about the size of a deck of cards.
These can either be cooked in a microwave, or oven-baked at home and eaten cold or reheated. They are filling, satisfying, and contain a dense packet of fiber and nutrients.
Easy to pack, easy to eat and high in protein, “yogurt could be the nurse’s best friend,” says Kristen E. D’Anci, PhD, a researcher in the department of psychology and nutrition and neurocognition laboratory at Tufts University in Massachusetts.
These are high in calories (a medium one has more than 300) but their nutritional benefits make them an ideal portable energy food, says Gary Scholar, BS, MEd, a Chicago-based health and wellness consultant to employees of the American Hospital Association, and author of “Fit Nurse: Your Total Plan for Getting Fit and Living Well.” They are high in fiber, potassium and monosaturated fats, the kind that help bolster HDL cholesterol.
Fueling the body that fuels compassion isn’t just a necessity; it’s an act of self-care.
By embracing these superfoods, nurses can invigorate their daily routine, ensuring that they’re always ready to face the challenges that come their way. After all, a well-nourished nurse is a beacon of strength, empathy, and care.
So go ahead, take that extra moment to savor a bite of dark chocolate or sip some green tea. You’ve earned it!
- Harvard Health – Dark Chocolate and Heart Health
- National Institutes of Health – Garlic
- WebMD – Benefits of Green Tea