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CEUfast Blog 7 Ways Nurses Can Stay Healthy & Keep Off the Pounds This Holiday Season

Written by Kristal Roberts
thanksgiving dinner for nurses          Photo credit vxla/Flickr.com

Nurses, the holidays are right around the corner, so that means lots of cheer, friends, family and yummy food.

Working in the healthcare industry does little to stop us from indulging in a piece of pecan pie here, or a slice of honey-baked ham there---and we can’t blame you, it’s a time to eat, drink and be merry for pete’s sake.  

 

However, we all know the consequences of one too many turkey sandwiches washed down with egg nog:

- clothes that magically shrink on our bodies

- bathroom scales that must not be working because it insists we’re five points heavier

A 2007 New York Times report found that the problem with holiday weight gain is most people don’t take it off, but instead, they pile it on year after year.

Then there are more serious consequences to poor health choices that we’re well aware of, including:

  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes type 2
  • heart disease

 

In the famous words of Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody got time for that!

We’ve got our work, family, love and goals to live for and we want live a healthy, mobile, fun-filled life while doing it. So to keep our health and our weight in check over the holidays, we’ve rounded up some advice from some experts.

Stop having feast weeks instead of feast days.

Head Coach and Nutritionist at Brick CrossFit Erica Giovinazzo says a big issue that contributes to holiday weight gain is people treating thanksgiving like a “four day free-for-all. Between visiting different homes, attending holiday parties and snacking on the treats available to many nurses on every shift, it becomes easy to rationalize “holiday treats” every day during the season.  

No one expects you to say no to sweets and carbohydrate loaded meals for the rest of your life ( we wouldn’t be so cruel).

Giovinazzo you to pick one day a week to partake in the rich holiday meals.

2. When you’re making yourself a delicious plate, only pick one or two rich items max and make sure they are foods you LOVE, not just like. Those will be the “stars of your plate”, like macaroni and cheese, for example. Fill up the rest of your plate with vegetables and/or or lean meat. Once you sit down to enjoy your food, Carrington Farms Health and Nutrition Consultant Deborah Orlick Levy advises you to enforce the low to high method, as in you start with the lowest calorie/healthiest foods in the meal and end with the more creamy, sweet, fatty, bread- or dessert-like items. By the time you reach that pie, you will only need a little sliver to feel satisfied.

3. Don’t skip meals throughout the day in order to make room for the all calories. This will only make you ravenous and registered dietician at NY Nutrition Group Lisa Moskovitz says this will cause you to potentially eat more in one sitting than you would have over the course of the day.

Several studies like this 2005 report in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association have also shown that regular meal skippers are more likely to be overweight and have less healthier nutritional profiles.

4. Pack healthy snacks. This is something you should be doing daily, but when you are trying to avoid overindulgence, it really comes in handy to have a tuna cup or apples and peanut butter on hand when a tray of fried cheese bread or pumpkin pie is placed in front of you at work.

5. Drink water before and after your meals. As you most likely know, hydration is often mistaken for hunger, so remember to stay hydrated throughout the holidays and this will assist you in being satisfied with a small sample of holiday goodies instead of huge helpings. This is doubly important if you are drinking alcohol, as it dehydrates your body.

6. Squeeze in intense workouts on your day off. Yes, the average nurse walks an average of four to five miles in a shift, but that may not be enough to burn through all the extra calories we tend to treat ourselves through during the holiday. Getting in some extra high intensity cardio and/or a weightlifting session will help to stoke your metabolism and keep the fat at bay.

7. If doing an intense workout doesn’t fit into your day, (or you simply refuse to do this with a gut full of turkey) we understand. You can still reap a ton of health benefits by just walking 15 minutes after your holiday meals, or any meal for that matter. Even taking as few as a 1,000 steps in your house or our around the block works to improve your blood circulation and lower triglycerides and cholesterol. This will also help to burn up the excuse glucose in your body, which will help you to maintain your blood sugar.

Following these tips will give you control over your health and allow you to indulge in the holidays responsibly.

So go ahead and enjoy this special season with special friends, family and food. Happy holidays!