(Okay. So, to be honest, I’m still trying to figure this one out for myself. This is a work in progress. If you have additional suggestions, please let me know).
I worked twelve-hour shifts Friday through Sunday. Work was a nightmare.Work is usually a nightmare as far as food is concerned.
Saturday was Valentine’s Day and there were sugar cookies with pink frosting, chocolate kiss shaped containers full of chocolate kisses placed at every corner, a platter of fruit skewers with white chocolate chips to dip under a chocolate fountain. There was wine (which I could not drink at work). Then there was bingo, and just guess the prize! …CHOCOLATE bars. Seriously. There were also doughnuts in the break room. (I ate one).
(This is every nurse in the break room).
(This .gif is from esquire in an article about pot brownie regulation).
Actually I don’t think all of this was even on Saturday. The days run together. There were chocolate and doughnuts every.single.freaking.day. There was also a giant/extreme size bag of trail mix that included a few mixed nuts and lots of chocolate chips. Like, everything was melting together there was so much chocolate. So.much.chocolate…
I’m not against chocolate. I love chocolate. I am also not against doughnuts, even though they are fluffy egg and flour baked roll covered with sprinkles evil.
So. What happens is this…I eat breakfast before work (and lots of coffee). I usually eat something semi-healthy at 0600 AM. Then, like every other nurse, I run around like crazy. At the hospital, the morning is always crazy. At the assisted living, life is less complex. But life is still busy. Because every person over the age of 65 must be on eleven different AM medications. But this isn’t about the work exactly…this is about FOOD. (And sugar. Lots of sugar)…
Sometimes around 10 AM or so there is a hunger panic. I realize I haven’t drank anything since my AM coffee and I am famished and I simply cannot go on without passing out or yelling at someone. There are always promises of sugar in the break room (it seems, this is a universal break room truth). WHAT TO DO? Doughnut? Or no doughnut?
(Stock image of “hypoglycemia.” Or weird prayer healing?)
My 10 AM-ish snack now varies. At first it was only granola bars. Granola bars are quick/easy/temporarily filling/pocket-fitting. I try and pick ones with fruit and nuts or less SUGAR. (Because sugar, it turns out, is in everything). No surprise. My new go-to survival snack is baby food. (Apparently the organic kind isn’t very popular because it is always on sale). I’m not talking the little mini-jars, I mean the squeeze packets that don’t even need refrigeration. What baby wants quinoa, peaches, and pear baby food? But it is gooood. And only contains…14 grams of sugar. (Is that bad?) Hrmph. Better than a doughnut! Yogurt is another possibility. But yogurt requires a spoon and it is messy and non-dairy yogurt is expensive if you are like me and can’t tolerate much lactose…it may also require sitting down. It is more filling than some of the other options…(ish).
On a 12-hour shift, when to eat is another issue. Sometimes there is no sit-down actual eat. There is no 30-minute break. “Two 15 minute breaks” are generally a joke. BUT…it turns out, at the assisted living, I take a full 30-minute break. It is NICE. And I wonder why I’ve rarely done this before. I close the break room door and people don’t bother me as much. I made a phone call. I did not feel rushed. The hospital break room had this damn window and if somebody saw you…all hope of a quiet/I’m-not-talking-about-my-patients lunch was ruined. How rude. If you can find solace: Do. If you can’t: Talk loudly with your mouth full of food. Drooling might help too.
(Or passive aggressive angry eating. Or pretty much any face from the list of angry reaction .gifs).
Anyway, when to eat? Some days there is no choice but to eat lunch at 5 pm. Those days are horrible for me, so I usually try and avoid them regardless…even if that means my “30 minutes” are like, 10 minutes. Some folks eat at 2 pm so that kind of breaks up the twelve hours. Whatever works. I could eat lunch at 10 am if I wasn’t so busy. And dinner? 5. (I am actually 87 years-old).
Some folks buy food at the cafeteria. I don’t do that. Because that requires 30 of my minutes being snatched waiting in line and making decisions and standing on my feet. And because a 12-hour shift normally includes 10 to 11 of those hours of standing on feet…I’d rather sit for 30 whole goddamn minutes. Plus. The cafeteria has butterscotch pudding. And I don’t need to eat that every.single.day. And…less money spent.
I bring food/usually leftovers of food that I did not make. If I am forced to cook before work days, I make a huge pile of food and put them in individual tupperware for each work day. Once I tried just to bring a big salad. Hell no. Then I was starving and eating cookies the rest of the afternoon. Try carbs and proteins. Don’t leave out carbs unless you are okay with feeling hungry for 8 more hours or so.
My favorites? Mac & cheese with veggies and tuna. (Okay. That is pretty much the only thing I can cook).
If someone else is cooking? Enchiladas, fish, pasta, steamed veggies, rice and beans, microwavable fake meat with ketchup (okay, I can cook that too), veggie bake/other casserole, leftover pizza, sandwich. [Insert] any other leftover that is cooked.
For the sides? Yogurt (if I didn’t eat that at 10 am and usually the coconut milk kind), some sort of non-chocolate trail mix to put in yogurt, banana, apple (pre-sliced), other sliced fruit or dry fruit (be careful), applesauce, cheese stick.
Other tips? Drink fluids. 8 cups of coffee does not equal 8 glasses of water. Water gets boring and hospital water tastes like blood (to me). Add emergen-c or other drink powder (less sugary ones exist? I think). I avoid soda, but love carbonation…try that LaCroix stuff (I still can’t pronounce it). Drinks are like doughnuts in a bottle as far as sugar is concerned…Beware.
Other things? Gum. Fruit leather. Veggie trays for the break room (peanut butter for the celery).
I don’t know. Maybe just eat one doughnut?