Travel nursing is a great opportunity for nurses to explore the country, work in different settings, make new friends and gain experience. The job, however, comes with its own unique set of challenges. You’re constantly on the go, moving from assignment to assignment and adapting to new working environments and schedules. When the lifestyle gets a bit hectic, even the healthiest people lose focus of their diet and fall into unhealthy habits. Travel nurses are also often strapped for time, so diet as a travel nurse can feel like a huge hurdle.
But it doesn’t have to be—and we’re here to help! We believe in you, and we’re going to show you how you can maintain a healthy diet on the road without breaking the bank. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, eat better, or just stay on top of your nutrition goals in general, you can stay at the peak of your health with these tips and tricks.
Plan Ahead of Time
First and foremost, it’s important to try to cook your own meals whenever possible. Even if you’re a self-proclaimed “bad cook,” it’s still more cost-effective and healthier to cook your own food rather than munching on fast food all of the time. Fortunately, to prepare your own meal, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
If you plan ahead and create a meal schedule, cooking will become much easier. For example, if you know that you’ll be working from 5 pm-11 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, prepare food in advance for lunch and dinner on those days. You can also easily reheat frozen foods like lasagna or meatloaf when you get home so that all you have to do is heat them up in the oven and enjoy!
Explore Grocery Stores and Farmer’s Markets
Before you set out on your journey, take a look at the cities where you’ll be living and working. If there are local grocery stores with good prices and organic food, that’s great! Write down their locations, so you know where to go once you get there. If there aren’t any nearby stores, look into community gardens or farmers’ markets where you can buy fresh produce directly from local farmers. Instead of calling it “research,” call it “a delicious scavenger hunt!” This will make it more fun!
Pack Nonperishable Food Items
The most important thing you can do is pack nonperishable items with you before leaving town. Nonperishable foods don’t go bad quickly, which means you can keep them in your car or hotel room for a long time without having to worry about them going bad. Some examples of nonperishable food items include granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, and even peanut butter sandwiches.
And don’t forget to bring along a few treats that will satisfy any craving you might have — dark chocolate is a good example of something nutritious that still feels like an indulgence. By packing these foods with you, you’ll always have something to eat when you get hungry instead of relying on restaurants and convenience stores that typically only sell unhealthy food options.
Switch To Smart Carbs
When traveling from place to place, it’s easy to eat too many carbs like bread and pasta at restaurants because they’re cheap and filling. Unfortunately, these carbs are also loaded with calories that can lead to weight gain and cause blood sugar levels to spike very quickly and then fall just as rapidly. This causes a feeling of hunger right after eating them, even if you were full before you started eating.
It is important to invest in smart carbs such as vegetables and whole grains that are full of fiber and other beneficial nutrients. These foods digest much more slowly than their refined counterparts, so you feel fuller longer after eating them, and they are much better for your overall health. Additionally, you should add healthy minerals and vitamins to your diet in the form of supplements. These supplements include vitamin C, spirulina, vitamin B complex, and folic acid.
Take A Break From Dull Diet
As mentioned before, it’s easy for your diet to get dull when you’re eating the same thing over and over again. If you have the same thing for breakfast every day, the chances are that you will start craving something else by the end of the week. Try new things, hit small restaurants and switch up your routine if things get dull or monotonous. You may even discover a new favorite food!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
No matter where you are going or what time of year it is, it’s so important that you drink plenty of water throughout the day. The effects of dehydration can be extreme if left untreated. In fact, dehydration causes fatigue which can lead to poor sleep and poor dietary choices when traveling.
It’s also important to keep some bottled water with you at all times. If you want something a little more flavorful than tap water, bring along some powdered drink mixes so you can easily jazz up your water in seconds.
Keep Your Sleep Schedule Healthy
Another challenge travel nurses may face is sleep deprivation. It’s not uncommon for travelers to work odd hours or overnight shifts, which could mess up your sleep schedule. Maintaining your sleep schedule should be one of your primary health goals when you take on a new assignment as a travel nurse.
Your body has an internal clock, and if you want to keep your immune system strong while you’re away from home, it’s important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night regardless of where you are in the country or what time zone, you’re in.
Hit the Gym and maintain the diet as a travel nurse
You might not feel like going to the gym after a long shift, but this will help maintain your immune system and keep you healthy. If you are staying in a hotel while traveling, be sure to take advantage of any gym or fitness facilities they offer.
Many hotels have gyms that include everything from treadmills and weights to yoga classes and swimming pools. You don’t need to go for an hour-long workout; anything will help. You might just stretch out or do some yoga poses. If you have time and energy, take a walk or jog around the neighborhood outside the hotel. This will get your blood flowing and help you burn off some steam from the day at work.
Travel nurses have a tough job. They work long shifts and have to travel from hospital to hospital at a moment’s notice. It’s not easy to stay healthy, but it can be done. Although serving as a travel nurse is personally and professionally rewarding, make sure you eat healthfully and stay fit so you can get the most out of your experience in every way!