Hey nurses, let me ask you a question...
How often do you actually get to sit and enjoy a nourishing meal at work?
Chances are, you don't always get a full lunch break. Chances are you are more likely to grab whatever is quick or easy (whether from home, from the cafeteria, vending machine, coffee cart, or the break room). You might even find yourself snacking more than eating a full meal during a busy shift.
But if you are choosing sugary foods, highly processed foods, or even just turning to lots of coffee/energy drinks for that much needed energy, then you are going to find that soon after you will feeling an even greater energy crash.
When we are running low on energy or haven't eaten in a while, our body is going to crave quick energy. Foods like candy, chips, and sugary beverages are super quick sources of energy as we mentioned. But it is short lived and leaves us craving more not long after.
So instead I encourage you to plan ahead and pack some healthy snacks that can actually boost your energy and help you feel better overall.
Often times, when people hear healthy snacks, it's common for them to think of "tasteless," "cardboard," and "completely unsatisfying" options.
Well, I am here to tell you that you do not need to eat anything bland, boring or blah in order to eat healthy!
Let me give you a few of my best travel friendly snacks (literally you can fit them into your pocket at work if needed) that aren't just nutritious but also delicious!
What’s my criteria you ask?
They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way. These are foods that contain protein and/or fiber, as well as travel well without refrigeration.
1 - Nuts & Seeds
It’s true - nuts & seeds contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!
Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones or options that have lots of added sugars to them, of course. Those probably are fattening.
Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.
By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.
Pocket Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container or bag. You can even mix a few types to enjoy a homemade trail mix. Use the image here to create your own trail mix to enjoy. You also can find many wholesome bars without a lot of ingredients/added sugar that contain nuts. A few personal favorites of mine are LaraBars and the Perfect Bar.
2 - Fresh Fruit
As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier.
Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I'm not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.
Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the "satiety factor") but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious "blood sugar spike."
Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.
Pocket Tip: Choose ones that don't require refrigeration and won't get smashed in your pocket, such as sliced apples, peeled oranges, banana, or washed grapes.
3 - Chia seeds
This is one of my personal favorites…
Chia is not only high in fiber (I mean HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.
Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?
They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up). You can mix them into a chia pudding, energy bites, toss them into a homemade smoothie, mix into your oatmeal, and enjoy in so many ways.
Pocket Tip: While many of these chia recipe ideas are delicious, they don't always travel well. For a pocket friendly chia snack, find some pre-made options such as a chia squeeze pouch, the ones that look like an applesauce pouch (one option is Mama Chia) or chia and fruit snacks (such as Nothing But The Fruit ).
4 - Bean, Lentils, & Peas
Beans, lentils, & peas are all packed with protein, fiber, as well as additional vitamins and minerals.
In general, you can add beans, lentils, and peas to so many dishes! Whether it's a soup, a salad, taking the place of meat in a meal, enjoy as a dip, etc...
Pocket Tip: Enjoy some roasted chickpeas (you can make yourself or find pre-made ones pretty easily anywhere these days), dry roasted edamame, or even enjoy some crackers/chips that are made from simple whole ingredients (such as Enjoy Life Lentil Chips or Simple Mills Crackers).
5 - Vegetables
I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.
Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, and you don't need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?
Veggies can pair really well with so many dips to add a little flavor! Try nut butter, guacamole, or hummus! You can even find a tasty hummus recipe below.
Pocket Tip: You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized). But choose any veggies you like, pre-washed/pre-cut and place them into a little container or baggie.
Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be "tasteless," like "cardboard," or "completely unsatisfying." And this way, even if you don't have time to sit and eat your full lunch, you can keep up your energy level, stay focused, and feel better overall as you work.
Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus
Makes about 2 cups
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
⅓ cup tahini
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 dash salt
1 dash pepper
1.) Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.
2.) Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.