5 Tips for Eating Healthy on the Road
By Leigh Morgan, Contributor
Travel nurses are in high demand throughout the United States, especially in rural areas and urban areas with known nursing shortages. As a travel nurse, you have the opportunity to travel all over the country, accepting short-term assignments and getting paid a premium for your expertise. Although traveling is fun, it's often difficult to avoid high-fat, high-calorie foods. These tips for eating healthy on the road can help you get the nutrients you need without blowing your budget.
1. Always Plan Ahead
If you don't plan ahead, it's easy to fall into the trap of eating in the hospital cafeteria or stopping at the drive-through on your way to work. At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to plan out your meals. Write down what you're going to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. If you plan ahead, you won't be tempted to grab a candy bar from the vending machine or eat three of the donuts your colleague brought in to share with everyone. As an added bonus, you'll also save money, according to Beaumont Health.
2. Search for Healthy Options
You already know the vending machine isn't the best place to find healthy travel foods, but you may not know where to find nutritious foods in your new location. After you accept an assignment, do some research on grocery stores and restaurants nearby. If you know that the hospital has a great salad bar a block away, you'll be less likely to be tempted by cookies, french fries and other high-calorie foods. If you can't get away long enough to buy lunch, try having healthy food delivered directly from the restaurant or via a third-party delivery service.
If the idea of taking on a short-term nursing assignment sounds appealing, check out the American Mobile job board to find travel nurse openings in the United States.
3. Bring Your Own Snacks
In many hospitals, junk food is easy to find. Patients bring in baskets of cookies and bagels to thank nurses for the excellent care they provide, vending machines are stocked with chips and crackers and in-house cafeterias typically serve up the fast-food fare. If you're worried about eating healthy on the road, always have your own snacks on hand.
Celery sticks, baby carrots and apple slices are all low in calories, and they also offer essential nutrients such as fiber and vitamin C. If you prefer something with protein and healthy fats, pack a serving of nuts. Walnuts, almonds and macadamia nuts are a good choice, as they contain unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that protect the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic.
4. Supplement Your Lunch With Nutritious Foods
If you don't have time to pack a full lunch every day, try packing one or two nutritious items and purchasing your main dish at the hospital cafeteria. This approach saves time while also ensuring that you get the right balance of nutrients. If you take a small salad made with baby spinach, cucumbers, bell pepper and grape tomatoes, you can pair it with baked chicken from the cafeteria, creating a meal that is fairly low in calories and contains several important vitamins and minerals. Spinach, for example, has folate, manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium and several B vitamins, according to The World's Healthiest Foods.
5. Take Along the Right Tools
One of the reasons eating healthy on the road is so difficult is because many nutritious foods must be peeled, shelled, sliced or chopped before you eat them. Buying pre-sliced fruits and vegetables is one way to combat this problem, but these packaged foods are usually more expensive, and you may not feel comfortable throwing away the extra packaging. To avoid these challenges, put together a small bag of tools to help you prepare healthy foods on the go. Eating healthy while traveling is much easier if you have the tools you need to peel a cucumber, chop up a bell pepper or slice a chicken breast into small pieces. The easier it is to prepare healthy meals and snacks, the more likely you are to stick with your eating plan.
Travel nursing offers many benefits, including the opportunity to travel to desirable locations and strengthen your nursing skills while meeting friendly new faces. Eating healthy on the road can be a challenge, but you can make it easier by following these tips.