Want to lose pounds or maintain a healthy weight as a nurse? Try crowdsourcing a solution. That's the practice of soliciting ideas from a large group of people, especially when done online. Here's why: We're often so close to our own problems that we need to reach out to others for viable strategies.
That's one reason that support groups, such as Weight Watchers (in-person or online versions) or Spark People (online community), work so well. In addition to the emotional reinforcement, there is an educational component. You'll gather ingenious tips, tricks, and tools from various folks who are dealing with your same issues. You're sure to find some solutions that will be effective for you and your lifestyle.
Here are some strategies that nurses say they're employing to stop -- or slow -- weight gain. Which ones will work for you?:
> Absolutely no food or drink at the the nurses' station or anywhere, for that matter, except the staff break room.
> Always take a lunch break. Remember: No one is going to die because you got away for lunch.
> Encourage vendors, doctors, and patients to bring healthy treats, such as fresh strawberries or tangelos.
> Leave all means of easily paying for food in the cafeteria at home and always pack a lunch the night before.
> Assign healthy meals to a partner or older kids to cook on work days. As long as they get specific instructions and you shop together it can work out.
> Reminding yourself: Neglecting self-care leads to indulging in comfort-eating later.
> No eating goodies on the run during a shift. That leads to eating a full meal later because the calories consumed don't register.
> Instead of comfort food when doing "bad" shifts, substitute indulgences like a massage or session in a hot tub.
> Stop feeling like a hypocrite telling patients to watch what they eat and reduce stress when you aren't doing it.
> Nurses run at full speed over long shifts with no breaks. Your body is flooded with cortisol, making all those calories convert straight to fat. Pledge to slow down and take better care of yourself.
> Ask yourself and other nurses this question: What can nurses do to protect themselves, individually and as a profession, from poor eating habits and weight gain?
> Start packing healthier snacks for yourself .. cheese strings, sliced apple or veggies, yogurt... things that you can grab easily and snack on.
> Remember this: Nurses need to take breaks and not allow themselves to work to the point of not being safe to themselves or their patients.
> Drinking a lot of water (and other zero calorie or healthy liquids) helps you feel more full.
What strategies have been working for you? Let us know -- we'd love to hear your success stories.
Jebra Turner is a health writer living in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at www.jebra.com.