It’s definitely not easy being a travel nurse and also keeping up on a healthy diet when you don’t have great access to your home kitchen and local market. However, there are many hacks that travelers have figured out on how to remain healthy while on the road.
When you first arrive at your new travel assignment, get a feel for your surroundings and look up a few restaurants and grocery stores that are near you. This way if you’re in a bind in the beginning of your stay you know where to head. This will also help you plan your meals to be prepared on your days off to ensure you are getting the correct amount of nutrition during your long work days.
Follow along with our tips and discover some easy ways to improve how you eat and drink while traveling:
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Tip 1 - Make Sure You Have A Refrigerator Big Enough for Storage
Often times short-stay hotels don’t have refrigerators readily available, but you can call and ask for one in advance. This way when you arrive you can get all of your perishable items into the refrigerator before they spoil. Keep in mind that your recruiter will ensure that this accommodation is taken care of, especially for normal traveling assignments, but be sure to mention this to them during your normal call just to be sure.
Bonus Tip: Pack something healthy that won’t go bad so you’re not stuck eating McDonalds on the road or during a busy shift. Try almonds, dried fruit, or even beef jerky. Remember, low sugar, high protein!
Tip 2 - Don’t Eat Out For Every Meal
It’s not easy to eat healthy as a travel nurse, especially when cafeterias and restaurants are a main source of meals. These places easily challenge your waistline and overall health because they often serve large portions and menu items are often high in calories, fat and low in fiber.
To save both calories and money during your assignment, try “eating in” for at least one meal a day. Shop at a grocery store on days off for a few breakfast options like lower-sugar instant oatmeal, whole-grain breakfast cereal, power bars or breakfast bars. Look for brands low in sugar and saturated fat, but high in protein and fiber. The maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Consider when you have the most time to prep a meal and plan for that to be your “eat in” time.
Bonus Tip: No time to sit down? Try tuna and cracker kits or a single serving greek yogurt to tide you over. When you keep your snacking “innocent” you can treat yourself to a great dinner every once in awhile.
Tip 3 - Drink Lots Of Water
Soda, specialty coffees and other flavored drinks are always tasty, but they are actually dehydrating your body. If you’re not getting enough water throughout the day, your body is going to react negatively.
Water plays a vital role in nearly every bodily function. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. If there’s a 2% drop in body water it can trigger a multitude of issues like, fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page. A great way to stay healthy while traveling is by swapping speciality drinks for some water! Hate water? Stay hydrated with no sugar added drinks like LaCroix, iced or hot tea, or throw some cucumbers, lemons or berries in to give your water a twist!
Bonus Tip: Grab an insulated bottle to keep your water ice cold, or your herbal tea (YUM!) piping hot when you get called away for a patient.
Tip 4 - Plan Ahead: Look Up Nearby Restaurants
Whether traveling for vacation or work, experiencing new, local cuisine can be the highlight of any trip. While still partaking in the new, local cuisine you should look for opportunities to order dishes that include high-nutrient, high-fiber fruits and vegetables.
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Entree salads or side salads made with spinach or romaine lettuce are a great way to get your vegetables. If you’re ordering something like a fish or a chicken quesadilla, you can ask the restaurant to add some grilled vegetables to your order. These are easy ways to make sure you are getting the adequate amount of nutrition and not letting your waistline suffer.
Bonus Tip: You can download the Eat This, Not That app on your phone to help you order the right things at most major chain restaurants.
As you can see, if you’re a traveler and need a little help, these simple tips will help you make better decisions for yourself. We would love to hear what tricks or tips you have learned while on assignment. Share your tips in the comments below and we will add them to our post!
If you’re looking for your next assignment, then head over to our job page to see what positions we are currently hiring for!