We all know the temptation to indulge on delicious foods while in a new place. When on a short assignment, it might be easy to slip into a pattern of eating more than you would at home, ordering that high-calorie Starbucks, or trying all of the local cuisine. But just because you’re away from home, you do not have to be away from your normal health and wellness routine. Here are 7 tips for staying healthy while travel nursing.
1. Start your day with water
Before doing anything else for the day, drink a full, 8 oz. of water. This will hydrate your body and satisfy your appetite so that you don’t overeat at breakfast. But also…
2. Do NOT skip breakfast
There’s nothing worse than going into work with hunger pains. You’re sluggish, cranky, and will likely binge on something unhealthy later to calm the cravings. You can avoid facing this problem by simply eating a balanced breakfast before leaving for the day. It’s important to eat a meal with healthy fat, protein, and carbohydrates in order to keep you fuller longer. Things like avocado toast with an egg on top or oatmeal with fruit can curb your appetite and keep you satisfied till lunch. Check out this website for healthy breakfast ideas.
3. Do a hunger check
Most of the time, when you’re craving pizza or thinking about downing a bag of chips, you aren’t hungry… you’re just bored. Try to distract yourself, drink a glass of water, and reevaluate in twenty minutes. If you’re still hungry, likely the craving will have gone away, and you can make a healthy decision on a snack to eat to tide you over until your next meal.
4. Treat yourself…. But not too much
You’re in an exciting new place! It’s important that you embrace this experience. So, while working on a thirteen-week assignment in Maui or even just a couple weeks in rural Minnesota, allow yourself planned treats from a couple of new places. This will help satisfy you while also maintaining a balanced diet.
5. Remember, a few weeks makes a difference
Whether your assignment is just for a few weeks or for 13-weeks, what you do during that time will make a difference to your health. You might slip into vacation mindset and overindulge, planning to get back to your routine when you return home. But your body can undergo a lot of change over the course of your travel assignment, and it’s important to stick to your eating routine from home as much as possible.
6. Don’t count on finding a gym
If the gym is your usual spot for getting in your workout, try to discover a new fitness hobby. Maybe you’re on assignment in California and can try surfing or swimming. Or you’re in beautiful Gainesville, Florida and can hike every day to get in that cardio. Whatever the case, find something fun to do while away so that you can keep your body healthy while trying something new as well.
7. Release stress
Stress causes more damage to our bodies than we realize. According to the American Psychological Association, health is the third most common source of stress. Trying to count calories, get in daily workouts, lose those couple of pounds… It gets overwhelming. Your mental health can really take a toll. An easy way to check for tension in your body is to do a quick check on your face, your hands, and your shoulders. Are you tensing any of them? Let it go, and take a deep breath. Yes, clean eating is important, as is fitness. But stress can have physical consequences, causing weight gain, appetite fluctuation, overeating, etc. So, let go of the stress, and make health an enjoyable journey rather than a box to check.
As a nurse, what you do is important. You save lives and help promote health wherever you are traveling. Remember to take care of yourself, too.