Wondering about ideas for healthy lunches for nurses? As nurses, we often forget what a healthy diet looks like. With long, stressful 12-hour shifts, the nutrition basics can fall by the wayside. Nurses order takeout, run to the cafeteria or grab something quick from the vending machine. But with a little intentional planning, nurses can change the unhealthy habits we have grown accustomed to.
Healthy Fats and Protein
Better known as the building blocks of life, protein is necessary for the body to create new cells and repair others. Protein also helps you feel fuller and for longer. Here are some ideas for healthy protein sources:
Lean beef (92% lean and higher is best)
Chicken (skinless is better)
Lean lunch meats
Beans, soy, and peas
Seafood (aim for those rich in omega-3 fatty acids)
Fat is another macronutrient necessary for the human body to have increased energy levels, protect our brain (helps with mental energy and clarity), improve our heart health, and absorb vitamins. Only some fat is good though; be sure to recognize the difference. Examples of healthy fat sources include the following:
Some oils (canola, olive, sesame, and peanut)
Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, etc.)
Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flaxseed)
Carbohydrates, Fiber, and the Glycemic Index (GI)
Remember when we were told that carbohydrates were bad for us? After much research, studies show that is false news. Carbs are just as vital to a healthy diet as any other macronutrient, you just need to choose your carbs wisely.
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are key parts of a healthy diet.
Whole grains are a good source of fiber.
Limit added sugars.
Pay attention to the Glycemic Index (GI). Most healthy options are lower on the GI, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy. These options won’t raise glucose levels like high GI foods will.
So, what are some Meal Prep ideas?
Whether you work the day or night shift, you have options! Meal prepping is beneficial for nurses to save money, eat healthily, and plan nutritious meals. Plan your weekly menu and make a grocery list to save time and money.
Quick and Easy Dinner Ideas
Pinterest is full of healthy slow-cooker dinner ideas. Nurses can cook in bulk and freeze leftovers to save time and money! Check out one of my favorite slow cooker chicken fajita recipes.
Easy Packable Lunch Ideas for Work
Quick and easy lunches are the best for busy nurses who are always on the go. Here are some of my go-to choices:
Rotisserie chicken meals (It’s super easy to buy these premade and just add some sides; try pairing them with cauliflower rice and veggies.)
Bowls (Start with a base of your choice, then add protein, veggies, and healthy fat options.)
Healthy Snack Options
Pinterest isn’t just great for lunch and dinner ideas; be sure to search for healthy snack options. Some of my personal favorites include:
Greek Yogurt parfaits
Cottage cheese and fruit
String cheese and nuts
Carrot sticks and raw broccoli
Apple slices and nut butter
Be Smart, Eat Smart
No matter your work schedule or lifestyle, you have options to make healthier choices. With just a little bit of planning, you can be on your way to leading a healthier lifestyle. Meal planning and prepping is just one of the ways to make smarter choices, cut down on food waste, and save money. Go get your planning on!
Krystle Maynard is the creator of Innovative RN Solutions and has been a nurse for over a decade. She has specialized in medical-surgical and critical care nursing, in addition to having a long-standing history of being an adjunct faculty member for a college of nursing. Innovative RN Solutions focuses on healthcare content writing (such as blogs, E-books, emails, academic coursework, and educational content for healthcare personnel and patients). Krystle also offers tutoring and mentor services for undergraduate and graduate nurses. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and children. If you would like to connect, you can reach her on Linked In or visit her website at Innovative RN Solutions.
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