As a traveling healthcare professional, it can be challenging to consistently eat healthy. Travel therapy professionals and travel nurses move from facility to facility, making fast food seem like the best, and sometimes the only option. Just because you’re taking advantage of a career that allows you to travel does not mean your eating habits have to falter. Some small changes can go a long way when it comes to eating healthier on the road, so here are some tips.
1. Don’t tempt yourself.
Eating healthy starts at the grocery store. If you are concerned about making a poor choice, take the pressure off yourself by making a list when you aren’t hungry, and then look back on it before you’re ready to shop. This way you can avoid the temptation of salty and sweet snacks that tend to sneak in when hunger strikes. Make sure your meal plans offer a balance of foods that will keep your energy up and foods to keep you feeling full longer. A good trick is to shop the outer ring when at the grocery store; that’s where you’ll find the healthiest options and the most whole foods.
2. Choose whole foods.
Your first choice in grocery shopping should always be fresh foods, but frozen or canned items are still options! While it may seem a bit obvious, it bears repeating that anything that you can see in its original form is not processed with extra sugars or additives. For instance, chicken is a great white meat to round out your nutritional needs, but once it’s transformed into a frozen nugget, you may be getting more than what you bargained for. When in doubt, purchase as-is protein and opt for frozen fruits and veggies when necessary.
3. Create a meal plan.
At first glance, creating meal plans can seem like a very daunting task, but you don’t have to schedule every meal down to the number of peas on your plate. Before you start your next travel nursing jobs, take a moment and make a one-week meal plan. This will get you through your orientation and relieve you of the stress of finding something to eat after starting at your new facility. By using that week-one meal plan as a test, you can see what works and what doesn’t, then carry that over into the following week. There are tons of meal-planning blogs and resources to tap into, and you can find simple options on CoreMedical Group’s . With everything planned, you’ll be able to prepare lots of meals in advance, making leaving for your travel therapy job in the morning (or evening) quick and stress-free.
4. Keep snacks handy.
Regardless of your caring for patients for 8-hour days or 12-hour nights, we all need that pick-me-up snack sometimes! By pre-packing mixes of your favorite travel snacks, you can be ready with a healthy option whenever a craving hits. Some possibilities include small bags of protein-rich salty snacks (mixed nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds) and fruits and vegetables that give a satisfying crunch (carrots, apple slices, or roasted chickpeas). Something with a bit of a crunch will take you longer to eat, giving you and your body time to feel full and curb the habit of overeating.
5. Drink more water.
Travel nurses, PTs, OTs, and even locum tenens physicians will be the first to recommend increasing your water intake, but sometimes healthcare professionals don’t listen to their own advice! If your position allows, carry a water bottle around with you whenever possible. By keeping yourself hydrated, you will feel fuller and satiate some of those snack cravings that can derail healthy eating habits. It will also help you to function at peak levels, as water directly affects energy, cognition, and well, pretty much everything else in the body.
There are endless resources available online designed to help you find recipes that will appeal to you while keeping your health in check. Whether you’re a locum tenens physician, travel nurse, or any medical professional on the road, a few simple adjustments to your choices can make healthy eating that much easier, and keep you feeling your best.