Eating healthy while you’re on the move is tough. You may be tempted to stop for fast food on your way home or order delivery when you’re staying in an unfamiliar environment. But what you eat can make the difference between an easy, productive day at work or a sluggish, never-ending shift—especially when you’re on a temporary assignment.
Eating a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight, give you the energy you need to care for your patients, and reduce your risk for chronic diseases. Watching what you eat while travel nursing is easy when you follow a few tips.
1. Start by figuring out your healthy eating goals
Before you can determine a plan for how to eat health while traveling for work, you need to determine what that means to you. Some people prefer vegan, paleo, and other specific diet plans, but the rigid rules that come with those nutrition programs aren’t usually necessary. Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) has three general rules to help you make healthy food choices:
A balanced diet includes a range of different fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein-rich foods. It shouldn’t have too much sugar, salt, fats, or cholesterol. MyPlate and other food tracking apps are great tools for tracking your progress toward your daily nutrition goals. They can determine how much protein, fat, and carbs are right for you, as well as how to split your meals between the major food groups.
Eating healthy is more than just a diet plan, though. You don’t have to avoid foods you like because they aren’t healthy. You can eat or drink anything in moderation as long as your doctor hasn’t given you specific dietary restrictions. It's all about finding out what works best for you and your body.
Depending on where you’re traveling, you might have a hard time finding the foods you’re accustomed to, especially if you have allergies or other dietary restrictions. Come prepared—travel with any specific items you need in your diet. You can use a cooler to keep any fresh or frozen foods cold while you drive. You might also want to travel with your favorite seasonings and other ingredients that are expensive or hard to come by.
For everything else, you’ll want to plan ahead by scouting out which grocery stores are closest to where you’ll be staying. Making a trip to the grocery store or ordering grocery delivery from a service like Instacart soon after you arrive can make your eating healthy while traveling for work super easy.
Make a grocery list before you travel to your assignment. Include ingredients you need for your favorite meals. It’ll make your first grocery trip easier so you can focus on cooking and preparing your meals in advance. The easiest way to eat healthy while traveling for work is to meal pep. Store your pre-made meals in separate containers in your fridge to worry less about what you’re eating every day!
If you aren’t sure what recipes you want to use for meal planning, try out these easy and nutritious recipes:
Anything goes with these healthy breakfasts. You can make them the night before a busy work day so you can grab ‘em and go. You’ll love how convenient they are. If you don’t have healthy breakfast ideas for traveling, you can find lots of inspiration on recipe blogs.
Overnight oats are a great source of grains and protein. Simply combine oats with your favorite milk and refrigerate overnight. You can add a generous serving of fruit, or jazz them up with honey and cinnamon for some extra flavor. Some people even like to add dark chocolate and nut butter. Use your imagination! The overnight oats are perfect for storing in a cooler to eat healthy while traveling for work.
Breakfast burritos are a great meal choice because they contain lots of healthy protein and vegetables. There’s no one way to make them, so you can customize them however you like. A simple breakfast burrito might use eggs, cheese, and a protein like bacon or sausage. You can add in avocado, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers—anything you like. Try it with salsa or hot sauce for some extra pizzazz. These can be frozen and microwaved in the morning—perfect for when you’re on the go or working.
Working on a busy unit might leave you unsure of when you’ll get a break to eat. When you get the opportunity to sit down and nosh, you won’t want to wait for food delivery. Pack your lunch in advance so you can make the most of your hard-to-come-by break—it’ll be even better if you don’t have to heat it up before eating. All of these recipes hold up well without refrigeration, so they’re perfect for when you need to eat healthy while traveling for work.
Chickpea salad sandwiches are chock full of nutrients. This recipe is also vegan. If you’re a fan of lively flavors, this is the perfect dish to brighten your workday. Eat it with some chips, carrots, and fruit to round it all out.
Pasta salad is an easy and nutritious lunch that’ll sustain you without weighing you down. You can also add a variety of ingredients to increase fiber, protein, or enhance the flavor. In other words, it’s perfect for perking you up in the afternoon.
If you want to switch things up, you can eat out too. Try your best to choose items on the menu that mirror your healthy food values. When in doubt, you should be able to check out the restaurant’s nutrition information. If you know you’re eating out after a long day, you can google the restaurant’s menu and plan your healthy order in advance, cutting out the temptation to cheat on a hungry and tired stomach.
Avoid drinks jammed with sugar, caffeine, and other unnecessary ingredients. Water, tea, and 100% juice are good choices to stay energized at work while eating healthy. If you want an extra zing, you can try out sodas with natural alternative sweeteners like stevia-sweetened Zevia.
Drink coffee, alcohol, and sugary drinks in moderation.
Chances are that you’ll want a mess-free snack for eating healthy while traveling for work. Keep some of these snacks on hand while you’re on the go:
You might even try out some healthy vegan travel snacks like dried fruit, kale chips, chickpea puffs or popcorn.
Don’t skirt your healthy eating goals while you travel. Taking a travel nursing assignment shouldn’t mean you have to compromise your diet. Eating healthy is easy while you travel if you plan things out in advance.
Are you ready to take your talents on the road? Advantis Medical Staffing is always looking for skilled nurses and other healthcare workers for travel assignments. Sign up on the AdvantisConnect job portal to get connected to your personal recruiter and browse thousands of jobs across the United States.