March is National Nutrition Month. What better way to celebrate than to begin making better food choices as a travel nurse. Rather than thinking in terms of big changes, we’d like to focus on making small changes that add up to big results. From ordering healthier versions of your favorites to using olive oil instead of canola oil, and from adjusting the way you grocery shop to making more food at home, we’ve got simple ways to get healthier this month and throughout the year.
Make Small Changes on Your Plate (and in your cup)
Small changes on your plate and in your cup include how you order food when you’re dining out and what you cook at home. Rather than a large coffee drink with whole milk, consider a smaller size made with low-fat milk or dairy alternative like unsweetened almond milk and skip the whipped cream and caramel drizzle. The sugar from those additions adds the calories without adding nutritional value and can add to the cost as well. Not requesting the add-ons can also add up to savings in your wallet.
For more money tips, check out our article on Hacks to Save Money as a Travel Nurse.
When it comes to cooking at home, you might think making better food choices means your food will have less flavor, but that’s not the case. Get creative. Try oils like coconut or olive. Use spices like smoked paprika to gain a smoky flavor you may have gotten from ham or bacon. Salt-free herb blends can add a level of flavor to dishes or to a skinless chicken breast and decrease the amount of salt you need to use. Apple cider vinegar or green chiles add flavor to pork or chicken dishes while keeping them healthy. Reduced fat cheese, whole wheat or almond flour, applesauce instead of sugar, and brown rice instead of white rice are all ways to continue eating your favorite foods while making them healthier.
As you’re finding ways to make small changes on your plate, you can also make changes to your wallet by preparing your favorite meals ahead of time and taking them to work. Rather than buying items like granola bars, oatmeal, bread, juice, and salad dressing at the store, consider making them at home. You don’t need to read the ingredient label when you know exactly what is in your food and you will save money in the process.
Savor the Flavor, Drop the Saturated Fat
Saturated fat, along with trans fats, are the unhealthiest, causing weight gain and putting you at greater risk of heart disease. Processed and take out foods are often rich in these fats. Starting this month, take note of where your food comes from and what it contains. Limit saturated fats to 7% of total calories by cutting back on baked goods like doughnuts, fried foods, processed meats, whole fat dairy, and solid fats like palm oil that are found in packaged foods.
Eating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will keep you and your heart healthier.
Making Better Food Choices by Shopping the Perimeter of the Store
Did you know the healthiest foods are around the perimeter of the grocery store? The next time you shop, take a look and you’ll see fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy and dairy alternatives, fresh seafood and meats, and hardly any processed foods. Those are primarily located in the interior aisles – frozen pizzas, chips, and premade sauces, to name a few. While there are organic choices for sauces and gluten-free granola and pasta, most of those foods are processed and thus less healthy. Simply shopping the perimeter for ingredients to make your own meals can make a difference in how you feel and how your clothes fit.
Making better food choices as a travel nurse begins with small changes like cooking your food at home, replacing high fat ingredients with healthier options, and shopping the store’s perimeter.
To learn more, read our article How to Stay Healthy on Your Travel Nurse Assignment.
Looking for a new assignment? Search jobs to explore our list of current job openings. Contact us at 888.515.3900 with any questions or to speak to a Travel Nurse Recruiter today.