January 12, 2015

How to Stay Healthy on the Road

Healthy food clean eating selection: fish, fruit, vegetable, cereal, leaf vegetable on rustic background

Happy New Year! If you’re like most of us, you’ve been up to your eyeballs in holiday treats since mid-November, and January offers a welcome chance to start over with healthier habits. Staying healthy on a nurse’s schedule can be a challenge – and an even bigger one when you’re traveling. Read below for some easy ideas to eat smarter and stay fit all year long.

Plan ahead

When you need a quick lunch or dinner after a long day, you may be tempted to reach for something from the drive-thru or the freezer. While these options are certainly fast and affordable, they’re rarely good for you and can leave you feeling low-energy. Instead, try reserving some time at the beginning of your week to prepare homemade lunches and/or dinners in advance.

Homemade meals can still be quick and cost-efficient. For lunch, sandwiches and wraps are always a good option. Make yours with whole grain bread or tortillas and load it up with lots of veggies. Skip the mayo and cheese to make it even lighter. For dinner, get creative in even the most limited of kitchens with traveler-friendly one-pot recipes. Even better – use a crock pot and let your food cook while you work or sleep.

Snack responsibly

Between meals, skip the candy and chips in the vending machine. Instead, bring your own snacks from home in individual portions. Here are some suggestions for healthy, satisfying snacks:

  • A tablespoon of peanut butter with whole grain crackers
  • Celery sticks or baby carrots and hummus
  • A small serving of nuts
  • A piece of fruit
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • String cheese

Also, ask yourself, are you really hungry? Many times when we’re bored or sleepy, we reach for food as a quick pick-me-up, but it’s an easy way to add unnecessary calories throughout a shift. If you need an extra boost, try drinking water or taking a brisk walk around the floor. It may not seem like much, but the added distraction will get your mind off the munchies.

Keep moving

Not only is regular exercise a key part of keeping weight under control, it also improves mood, increases energy, and reduces stress and depression. While it may be difficult to maintain your workout schedule on the road, traveling also offers the opportunity to try new kinds of exercise and meet new people in the process.

A regular gym membership with a hefty joining fee and monthly contract isn’t an option for travel nurses, but don’t give up there. Many local community centers offer low-cost monthly memberships with no contract, and some gyms have special short-term memberships for travelers. Rather be part of a group? Check out classes like Zumba, spin or martial arts where you can pay by the session. One of the secrets to staying fit is to choose activities that you enjoy. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy warm weather this winter, get outside! Explore local parks, trails and hiking paths solo or with fellow travelers.

Best wishes from TNAA for a happy and healthy 2015. Remember, the best resolution you can make this year is to take care of yourself, helping you take the best care of others.