Energizing snacks are a necessity for all nurses, but night shift nurses can find themselves longing for their bed around 3 AM, right in the middle of their shift. It's pretty important that duties are taken care of , so it's a good idea to pack some healthy snacks that will help give you the stamina to finish your shift and still be alert enough to drive home.
Here are some great suggestions:
1. Fruit Try taking some fruit to work with you. It's easy to pack and it's loaded with vitamins and nutrients. The fructose content will help give you that extra boost of energy when you need it. Bananas have lots of potassium and citrus fruits have plenty of vitamin C and fiber.
2. Yogurt is one of my favorite snacks. It's so easy to throw in you lunch box and there are so many varieties these days that you can have a different flavor every day of the week. Greek yogurt is amazing. It's thicker and creamier than regular yogurt, but has about the same amount of calories. Yogurt is full of probiotics which are good bacteria and yeast that are thought to be good for your health. Yogurt also has calcium for your bones and teeth and can help relax you, when you're feeling stressed. Yogurt also comes in low-fat, fat-free and sugar free, which makes keeping it healthy easy!
3. Nuts as we all know are an excellent source of protein. But they also contain magnesium, vitamin E, healthy fats and B-vitamins. They're a breeze to pack in your lunch bag and there are so many great choices. Almonds, hazelnuts (my favorite), walnuts, pecans...and the list goes on.
4. Cheese is a wonderful snack to add to your lunch bag. String cheese is my favorite. You can buy the low-fat varieties and they taste just as good as the regular cheese. Cottage cheese is great (especially with a little pineapple or mandarin added). You can also add it to a sandwich. Cheese contains tyramine, which is an amino acid that helps the brain keep us alert.
5. Chocolate. Oh, how I love chocolate and being a night shift nurse is a wonderful excuse to pack it in your lunch bag. It contains caffeine and tyrosine, which converts to dopamine when digested. Dopamine is the "feel good" compound that can keep you alert and energized.
6. Coffee as we all know has caffeine. When caffeine enters the brain it blocks the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. When adenosine is blocked neural firing increases, which in turn releases dopamine and norepinephrine. There have been many studies on caffeine that demonstrate that it does in fact improve reaction time, mood, memory, vigilance and cognitive function. Remember that tea also has caffeine in it, so if you don't care for coffee, there are many different flavors of tea you can choose from.
What's in your lunch box? Tell us what snacks you bring to work to help you stay alert and give you energy? Comment below!