Becoming a healthcare traveler is exciting, but getting away from your local grocery store and familiar surroundings requires making an adjustment to your eating habits. This isn’t always easy, but have no fear; help is here! Following are a few tips to help you eat healthy while on the go without ever stepping foot inside a fast food chain. As healthcare workers, we should be the portrait of health, so let’s lead by example!
The benefits of being a traveling nurse, physical therapist, or pharmacist are amazing – from sightseeing, meeting new people, and having the freedom to explore places many people only dream about! However, as with any good thing, the perks come with their own set of struggles. One of those struggles is trying to stay healthy while on the road, between assignments, and at work. As the phrase goes, “you are what you eat, ” and as a healthcare traveler, you need to show it because your patients look at you to portray health. If you want fuel for your shift and you want to feel well, you need to eat right.
On the Road
Barriers to eating healthy may include sightseeing, traveling between assignments, or even being stuck in a daily commute. Include foods that you can pack with you in the car, such as:
- Beef jerky
- Dried fruit
- Single-serve packs (hummus, peanut butter, tuna)
- Cut veggies
Eating on the road starts with a planning stage. A lack of said planning tends to result in stopping at gas stations and fast food restaurants, which never ends well. When you stop at these places, you’ll likely feel bloated and sick from the fried foods and junk they serve. Take the extra ten-minute commute to a local grocery store off the highway to grab a couple of fresh items, or pack a cooler for the road with foods like:
- Cold water
- Cheese cubes
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh veggies and dip
- Hard boiled eggs
Bonus Tip: Stay hydrated when you travel, even if it means more bathroom breaks. You will feel better overall than those who choose to drink coffee and soda the entire trip. Also, keep your meal times the same, or aim to eat three meals and two snacks a day to avoid over eating on the road.
When you arrive to your new work location, it is important to know a few details before getting comfortable. First, find the local discount grocery store, like Aldi or Wal-Mart, that has exceptional value at lower prices. Planning a meal list for the week will help before you arrive at these stores. Think about quick but easy, healthy meals. Shop fresh foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables to take to work and snack on while on the go. As you get acclimated to your unfamiliar environment, ask around for the local farmer’s markets to get a taste of the local culture and new area!
Bonus Tip: Sign up for the grocery store’s “perks” card for additional weekly savings.
A lot of traveling nurses, physical therapists, and pharmacists work off shift hours, also known as the night shift. Though this is not true for all, it is important to eat healthy no matter what shift you work. At night, due to fatigue, many of us reach for sugar, coffee, or energy drinks to stay awake, but instead of running to the nearest vending machine, pack your lunch. Try natural sugars like fruit, or if you are craving chocolate, a handful of dark chocolate chips.
Bonus Tip: Stay out of that breakroom! If there is another refrigerator on the unit, store your food in there to avoid the break room, also known as the snack room. The storage of junk foods like cookies, baked goods, and candy land in the breakroom, and it is a free for all. Stay away from the temptation.
CareerStaff is here to help! Ask your recruiter about local grocery stores, as well as freezer and refrigerator access at your temporary location. They want to make it as easy as possible to live life as you would at home, while on the road!
About Janine Kelbach
Writing Business Coach | Community Manager at WriteRN | Healthcare Marketing Network
Janine is an RN who has worked in labor and delivery since 2006. In 2012, she started freelance writing on the side to make extra cash and to use her ‘nurse’ brain in a different way. She was astonished to know she could make extra money this way and grew her business, WriteRN from 0-$15K in one year and quit her PRN job. She now works as an online community manager, pitchfest coordinator, and writing business coach for other healthcare writers trying to build their businesses!