At the beginning of the year, like many other people, I said I was going to lose weight. It can be hard sometimes during placement blocks to eat healthily, long days combined with long commutes can make preparing food for the next day the last thing on your mind once you get home. Some days on placement I’m really good and others I will eat junk food from the canteen or vending machines. This has led to me lacking energy on my days off and just wanting to spend time in bed, which I feel is a waste of the very few days I get off. I mostly do 14 hour shifts at placement, so I’m out of the house 16 hours with the hour drive each way. I admit to losing focus quickly, especially if I am having a bad day and it’s all too easy to call at McDonalds on the way home from placement. I’m trying to curb some of my bad habits with some of the steps below.
I try to plan my meals for the week ahead on a Sunday and batch cook things that can be frozen for a quick meal after shift. I batch cook things in the slow cooker like chilli, bolognese or pasta bake. I portion them up into Tupperware tubs and put a few in the fridge and a few in the freezer. I may also use a couple of the Slimming World ready meals from Iceland throughout the week and add vegetables to them. That’s my evening meals sorted with things that can just be reheated when I get in from placement.
For lunch time on placement, I will often make tuna pasta or a large salad, things that are easy just to whip up in 15 minutes on an evening before bed, they can also be eaten cold so no waiting for the microwave! I am quite lucky that the canteen at my placement will prepare salads or jacket potatoes for reasonably cheap prices which are handy if I forget my lunch or haven’t prepared anything the night before. I do try not to carry money with me though as this stops the trips to the vending machines!
For breakfast, I either have boiled eggs or overnight oats. I make my overnight oats with porridge oats and yogurt, leave them in the fridge overnight then eat them once I arrive at placement before my shift starts. Sometimes I’ve taken cereal but there’s the milk to buy and carry as well. I will occasionally have alpen light bars for breakfast or as a snack mid morning. I try to have fruit with me as well, just an apple in my bag as a snack option.
I always try to make sure I stay well hydrated when on placement, I usually drink between 2-3 litres every day and I have done since I was little. I notice quickly in the way I feel if I am not hydrated enough so I take a 1.5litre bottle of water to placement with me and also have little drinks of water from the staff kitchen throughout the shift. Try to take a water bottle with you to keep in the staff kitchen or at the nurses station if you are allowed, to take sips of during the day to keep yourself hydrated.
Let us know if you have any tips for staying focused on healthy eating whilst on placement, we would love to hear them!
(Toni Wade – student nurse)