They say that you are what you eat, and the last thing you want to be as an RTG Medical healthcare worker is unhealthy! So, the next topic we’re exploring in our series on taking care of the healthcare worker is how to eat better on the job.
Surprisingly, a hospital cafeteria menu is not always full of healthy food.
There are many additional healthy eating challenges particular to healthcare jobs, like long hours that leave you ravenous by break time, short meal breaks that force you to wolf down your food, night shifts that limit your dining options, and an inability to leave the medical campus to try new restaurants. And then there are the on-site temptations of vending machines, sweet cafeteria desserts, and high-calorie coffee drinks.
Although the healthcare industry is seeing an encouraging trend of improved nutritional offerings in hospital cafeterias, you can’t be sure that your next assignment will be at a facility that includes a progressive foodservice program.
But no matter what, you can always make better individual choices. For instance, instead of fries, have a side of vegetables with that chicken sandwich, choose baked or grilled versions over breaded or fried, and grab a piece of fruit instead of a slice of cake or piece of pie.
What about vending machines?
Better selections apply to vending machine fare, too. It’s probably best to stay away from them altogether, but when it’s unavoidable, you don’t have to just resign yourself to bags of empty carbohydrates.
Consider crackers or baked chips instead of greasy snack chips, or select air-popped popcorn instead of those sugary cookies, for example. Bottled water is better than a soda, but if you need a pick-me-up that only caffeine can provide, try a diet version.
Snacks in the hospital
Access to an employee refrigerator is a great perk because it means that you have unlimited possibilities for nutritious snacks. But even if you’re not that lucky, you can still stash nonperishable snacks in your locker or bag. Trail mix, crackers and shelf-stable cheese, applesauce cups, fresh fruit, and cereal bars are all items that are not only easy to find, but that also will hold for days or even weeks.
It may take a little extra work, but you can find better food choices on the job when you’re a healthcare worker. It’s important to stay healthy as a medical professional, and a great place to start is by avoiding junk food in the hospital.