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Healthy Holiday Eating for Healthcare Workers: Maintaining Energy and Nutrition in Busy Times

The festive season is upon us! With it comes an abundance of delicious treats, hearty meals, and the joys of shared feasts. However, for healthcare workers whose schedules remain as demanding as ever during this period, the holidays can pose a challenge. Maintaining energy and ensuring adequate nutrition is crucial. This guide offers tips and strategies to help healthcare professionals enjoy the festivities without compromising their well-being.

 

The Temptation of Quick Fixes

healthy food

During the busy holiday season, it can be tempting to grab quick fixes like sugary snacks or caffeinated beverages to keep going. While these might provide a momentary boost, they can lead to energy crashes later. Instead, consider the following:

 

– Prioritize protein: Lean meats, legumes, and dairy products provide lasting energy. If there’s a holiday buffet, fill at least a quarter of your plate with protein sources.

Healthy fats: Avocados, nuts, and olive oil can give you sustained energy without the sugar crash.

– Stay hydrated: Water plays an essential role in energy production. Ensure you’re drinking plenty throughout your shift.

 

Plan Ahead for Success

healthy cooking

With a little foresight, you can ensure that you’re equipped with nutritious meals and snacks, even on the busiest days.

Batch cooking: On your days off, consider preparing large meals that you can divide into portions and freeze. This way, you’ll always have a homemade meal ready to go.

– Portable snacks: Keep a stash of healthy snacks like mixed nuts, yogurt, or fruit in your bag or locker.

 

Mindful Eating Amidst the Chaos

It’s not just what you eat, but how you eat. Slow down and savour your food, even if you’re on a short break.

– Avoid multitasking while eating: If possible, find a quiet spot away from the chaos and truly enjoy your meal.

– Listen to hunger cues: Even if there’s an abundance of food around, it’s important to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.

 

Navigating the Holiday Treats

It’s okay to indulge in holiday treats, but moderation is key.

– Choose quality over quantity: If you’re going to indulge, pick something you genuinely love and savour every bite.

– Balance out indulgences: If you had a rich meal, opt for a lighter, vegetable-filled plate next.

 

Alcohol and Celebrations

If you’re partaking in holiday celebrations after a long shift or on your day off, be mindful of alcohol consumption. Not only can alcohol interfere with sleep quality, but it can also lead to dehydration.

 

– Opt for lighter options: Consider spritzers or drinks with a lower alcohol content.

– Alternate with water: For every alcoholic drink, have a glass of water.

 

Conclusion

The festive season is a time of joy, reflection, and togetherness. By maintaining a balance and being proactive about nutrition, healthcare workers can fully enjoy the season without compromising their health or energy levels. Remember, taking care of yourself ensures you’re at your best for those who depend on you during this special time of year.

 

References:

  1. Thompson, C., & Manore, M. (2015). Nutrition: An Applied Approach. Pearson Education.
  2. Rolls, B. J., Ello-Martin, J. A., & Tohill, B. C. (2004). What can intervention studies tell us about the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and weight management? Nutrition Reviews, 62 (1), 1-17.
  3. Scholey, A., & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutrition Reviews, 71 (10), 665-681.