Year of the Healthy Nurse: Nutrition
As March is National Nutrition Month, it makes sense that the American Nurses Association (ANA) Year of the Healthy Nurse Campaign is focusing on Nutrition for March 2017. A 2016 ANA health risk appraisal indicated that nursing students and RNs have an average Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27.6, putting them in the overweight range. Also, 28% of survey respondents indicated that healthy food choices were not available during the work day and another 31% stated that their workplace did not offer nutrition and weight management classes.
Fortunately, although helpful, it isn’t necessary to rely on our employers to make healthier nutrition choices. All of us, nurses included, can make small changes in our lifestyle to get on the road toward better nutrition.
- For meals at work, pack a balanced lunch that included whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables
- Swap out sugary drinks and sodas with more water
- Resolve to snack less while at work and home
- At dinner time, simply reduce your portion size
- Try eating nutrient-dense foods, like kale, blueberries, and salmon
Another nutrition challenge for RNs is having to work during off-shifts. Those afternoon or night shifts often make it more difficult to eat healthier. In addition to being proactive and packing healthier meals as described above, shift workers should take advantage of the publicity around National Nutrition Month and advocate for healthier choices in the workplace. Set up a meeting with your employer and request that healthier options in vending machines be made available, especially since many workplace cafeterias close during off shifts. Staff can also organize an on-site weight management or nutrition program and ensure it is available for the shift workers.
There are many approaches we can take to begin eating healthier, more nutritious meals to fuel our bodies at work and home with our families. The United States Department of Agriculture offers a variety of online resources to help interested individuals learn how to make better choices at the grocery store.
Nursing professionals know what to do to be healthier and are well-suited to be role models for their patients to follow. Nurses know better than most about the complications and chronic conditions that accompany unhealthy weight, including diabetes. This month, as part of National Nutrition Month and the Year of the Healthy Nurse Campaign, let’s take that first step together and start making the necessary changes to improve our nutritional health. If you are already making those good choices, take the initiative to help a co-worker or family member get on the right track too.
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