Eating healthy can be a bit of a challenge, as nurses are typically running around and balancing many things at once. Taking a lunch break can sometimes be impossible. For this reason, snacking might be the way to go. Snacks can be consumed quickly on the go. Plus, eating 5-6 small meals a day, instead of 3 large meals, keeps the metabolism working at peak performance. Here are some great snack suggestions for busy nurses:
- Fresh or dried fruit. Fresh fruit is portable, refreshing, and can be eaten quickly. Fruits that are ready to eat when you want them are best, such as apples, bananas, grapes, or berries. Oranges and other citrus fruits can also be a good snack, but it is best to peel them ahead of time so they can be consumed quickly on the go. Dried fruit is also a great healthy snack idea, but watch out for added sugar and preservatives. When it comes to fruit, fresh is best.
- Sliced apple (or a banana) with peanut butter (2 tablespoons is 1 serving). Apples alone are a great snack because they are highly portable and are low on the glycemic index, which means that it digests more slowly than many other carbohydrates and does not cause an extreme spike in blood sugar. Pairing an apple with peanut butter, which is a good source of protein and good-for-you fats, will keep you feeling full even longer. Sliced apples can be easily dipped in peanut butter and eaten on the go. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is essential for proper muscular function. For additional convenience, peanut butter can be purchased in serving-sized packages
- Brown rice cake with nut butter. Anything paired with nut butter is a great workday snack. Brown rice cakes are low calorie and can be kept at work for easy access.
- Hummus. Hummus is another food that is low glycemic and a good source of fat and protein. It can be consumed with multigrain crackers or whole wheat pita bread, or with veggies, such as cucumbers, celery, carrots, or peppers, for added nutritional value. Hummus can be purchased in a snack-size or in a larger container that can be stored in the break room refrigerator.
- Mixed nuts. Nuts are low glycemic and high in fat and protein, in additional to other health benefits. This is another snack that is easily eaten on the go, but be weary of your serving sizes. A serving of nuts is 1 ounce, which is typically about a handful. Choosing natural or lightly salted nuts over those with higher sodium. Pair the nuts with some dried cranberries or raisins for a healthy trail mix.
- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein, so it helps you stay full throughout your shift. Its portability makes it a great grab-and-go snack. This is another item that is easily stored in the break room refrigerator. Add fruit, nuts, or granola for greater energy.
- Oatmeal. Oatmeal is full of protein and fiber, helping you get through your day. It is also warming and comforting, which makes for a soothing snack. Instant packets made by Quaker, Kashi, and other brands are great to take to work. The healthiest variety is plain or original oatmeal, but there are also many different flavors available. Adding fruit, nuts, and honey is a good way perk up plain oatmeal.
- Cottage cheese. 2% milk fat or nonfat cottage cheese is high in protein to keep you full longer and low in fat and calories. This snack can be bought in convenient snack-size packages or in a larger container and left at work. Cottage cheese is versatile and can be eaten with virtually anything. Try it with fresh fruit or fruit preserves, veggies, or avocado to mix it up.
- String cheese. String cheese, like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, is high in protein and low in fat. Its individual packaging makes it a great grab-and-go snack option, and easy to eat on the move.
- Protein or granola bars. There are many different brands and flavors of protein and granola bars to choose from. Reading the label is key to finding the healthiest ones, as some pack so much sugar they are basically glorified candy bars. Look for bars that are lower in sugar and that contain 10 or more grams of protein and 4 or more grams of fiber. Various Kashi products, Lunabars, and Larabars are among some of the healthier options.
- Fruit smoothie or protein shake. Fruit smoothies and protein shakes can be purchased at the grocery store or made at home before work and stored in the refrigerator until snack-time. If buying them pre-made, watch out for smoothies and shakes that are high in sugar or contain a lot of preservatives.
- Low fat, low sodium canned soup. This is a good snack idea for if you have a minute to sit down and eat. Soup is warm and filling, but the canned stuff can be high in sodium. Be careful when choosing a soup. Go for those with under 400 mg of sodium, and the lower this number the better. Canned soup can be kept at work for when you are hungry.
- Half of a sandwich. Half of a PB&J sandwich, or one made with low sodium lunchmeat, can be just as quick to eat as a protein bar, and just as portable. If you usually bring a sandwich for lunch, cut it in half in case you do not have time to eat the whole thing in one sitting.
- Hardboiled egg. A hardboiled egg is one of the cheapest and purest forms of protein, and it is a quick and portable snack. Eat them with salt and pepper or as an addition to a small salad.
Have any other favorite healthy snacks? Leave a comment to share it with us!