Working as a medical professional often requires long hours with few breaks and not a lot of time to sit down and have a healthy meal during a shift. You worry far more about the nutrition and eating habits of your patients or students over your own. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that you should put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else and your own needs fall by the wayside.
March is National Nutrition Month, and it’s a perfect time to make some changes to your diet and create healthy habits to carry you throughout your workdays. Stop grabbing an unhealthy snack from the vending machine or ordering fast food for a quick lunch. Here are five simple ways that you can change your eating habits without spending a lot of time or effort.
- Plan meals ahead. One of the easiest ways to fall victim to unhealthy meals and snacks is to head into your day without a plan. Thinking that you’ll grab a salad from the cafeteria can turn into a lunch of chips and a candy bar from the snack machine if things get busy and you can’t get away for your meal. Bring a healthy lunch along, and you’ll be less likely to make poor choices.
- Keep a water bottle handy. It’s tempting to grab a soda or sweetened coffee to get you through on a busy day, but you’re risking a caffeine crash and filling yourself with empty calories. Keep a water bottle nearby to help you resist temptation and stay hydrated.
- Don’t be afraid of shortcuts. Your time is valuable and you don’t want to spend your well-earned day off in the kitchen, preparing food for the week. When you hit the grocery store, simply pick up pre-chopped fruit and veggie options that are easy to throw in a salad for lunch, into the pan for dinners, or into a bag for a snack.
- Leftovers make things easy. Cook a little extra at dinner time and pack it up for the next day’s lunch as soon as you’ve cleared the table. Even if you’re short on time in the morning, a healthy meal will be all ready to grab from the fridge as you run out the door in a hurry!
- Have a backup plan. Even the best laid plans go south from time to time. Fill your desk or work bag with some grab-and-go snack options to fill yourself up when you don’t have better choices available. Meal bars, granola, and similar snacks can fill a void and prevent you from skipping meals or turning to unhealthy choices.
The old adage that “you are what you eat” is entirely true. By ensuring that you have good, healthy choices for meals when you are at work, you can make sure that you are performing at your peak with the energy you need to get through the day. Make some positive changes this National Nutrition Month and take better care of yourself, which will help you take better care of your patients.