What I pack for a Twelve Hour Work Day

Honestly, I think this title should really say thirteen or fourteen hour workday (can I get a mhmm), but we will let that slide haha. Since, I seem to have a growing nursing community, I thought I would share a pretty basic post on what I pack to help me sustain those long hour days, because I feel like nurses are so commonly known for A) not peeing B) not hydrating and C) eating like s***. So, I am going to provide you with some easy options that I use to make sure I am fueled for the workday and never get that hypoglycemic hungry (or worse yet, hangry!), because ultimately you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.

Alright, I am going to start with breakfast. This isn’t something I pack. I always eat before I get to work, but it is important to begin my shift with a full stomach because you NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN. I mean, seriously. I can countless times when a friend at work comes to me at like eleven complaining of how starved they are because one of their patients decided to crash or have a poop the size of a small kiddy pool resulting in them being starved, lightheaded, and angry because they never got to go get their breakfast. Don’t do that, okay?

Breakfast – Here are some of my favorite options –> scrambled eggs with bacon bits, protein shake – we use Arbonne protein powder, protein pancakes – we use Kodiak cakes, bulletproof coffee and peanut butter toast, Starbucks turkey gouda sandwich. What to avoid –> high carbs. You need a high protein breakfast because ultimately things like bagels and oatmeal and cereal aren’t going to stay with you.

Mid-morning snack – This is another high protein option –> I like One protein bars (they have only 1g of sugar), cheese and crackers, yogurt (try and get one with less than 10g sugar), banana and nut butter packet, pretzels and hummus, or almonds and dried fruit.

Lunch – I typically eat anywhere from 12:30 to 2:30 just depending on my day –> For lunch I almost always have leftovers from dinner the night before, if that isn’t an option then I will bring a sandwich on sprouted grain toast with meat and cheese. If I have a sandwich, I will also have a soup with this or a piece of fruit. I typically try and do an apple or some grapes. If it isn’t fruit, then I will have some veggies and hummus, a cheese stick, etc. I never just eat the one thing.

Afternoon snack – This is optional. Sometimes, because I may take a late lunch or just not be hungry in the afternoon I don’t always eat this, but I always pack it! It just sort of depends on the day though. Typically, if I do eat this, it is something similar to my mid-morning options. I may even bypass a snack entirely and have a coffee instead. Some other options here include Mary’s Gone Crackers with some deli meat and guacamole, chips and salsa, a protein bar (only one a day though and always check the sugar), a piece of fruit (one of my favorites is a cut up apple with a sprinkle of cinnamon, SO GOOD), trail mix (be sugar mindful), or dried fruit.

Dinner – When I get home John typically has dinner cooking or ready. I know a lot of nurses don’t always eat dinner because it is so late, so what I would recommend if you are one of those is to have something light, like one of my snack options recommended above. I think it is important to always eat all of your meals so your body isn’t thrown off track and your metabolism doesn’t shut off early.

Additionals – I always pack a liter water bottle to stay hydrated. My goal is to drink the whole thing which isn’t a lot, but it is better than nothing. If I don’t bring a water then I aim to drink 8 cups of water throughout the day. I typically bring my thermos with coffee in the morning. I try to reuse this throughout the day to cut waste on styrofoam cups. Also, I always carry extra protein bars or snacks in my backpack and lunchpail so I always have something. And lastly, I love a good Arbonne fiz stick. These are great for that midday slump because they are packed with a ton of vitamins and keep my caffeine intake at a minimum. They are hydrating and help with mental clarity/focus to help you re-establish the patience that is waring ever-so-thin by the end of the day.

One last piece of advice I have, is to try and stay away from as much brought in food as possible. We all know the struggle…families bring in doughnuts, it’s a coworker’s birthday, or an attending decided to buy lunch…in those cases I always ask myself if it is worth it. If its from my favorite place, I indulge. Or, if everyone is claiming how good the cake is, I try a piece. BUT if I take a bite and it isn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be, I throw it away. Those types of things add up quickly and before you know it, you have eaten 5 chocolate chip cookies and three reeses because you are STRESSED OUT. Be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and make the conscious decision to indulge. This way, when you get home, you don’t regret all the crap you consumed. You know you made the conscious choice to do it, so it’s not guilt-ridden.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading! Carry on my little nurses!