Nutrition Support for NHS Workers
I can only begin to imagine what you are going through right now. We are relying on those within the NHS that are helping our family, friends and for all us to get through these difficult times. For most of us our workloads have reduced and we have the luxury to stay home and to work from our own comfort. For our NHS workers I can only imagine the stress levels you are under, the hours you are working, the conditions your working in and the fear that you have. Self-care and nutrition are probably at the bottom of your list at the moment; however, I have written a simple list of things for you to consider that will hopefully help you navigate these difficult times. I understand that eating breakfast or lunch may seem like a luxury and a quick chocolate bar or crisps can seem like the only option at busy times. Without proper nutrition, hydration and sleep you work will suffer, your energy levels will decrease and your immune system will begin to deplete. I hope these small additions to your day will keep you more balanced, well and healthy so you can continue to do the brilliant work you are doing.
My Top Tips to help support You
· Prioritise Breakfast – If you have a small amount of time before it starts to get too busy try and eat a healthy breakfast full off complex carbohydrates, protein and essential fats. This will help fuel you for the day, keep your blood sugar levels balanced and keep your energy levels consistent. It also means that if you have to skip lunch, a healthy nutritious breakfast will help sustain you for longer.
Overnight oats soaked in milk or plant-based milk. Top with berries, nuts, seeds, nut butter and hemp seeds.
Smoothie filled with berries, spinach, nut butters, oats, flaxseeds, protein powder, banana and a plant-based milk.
Frittata filled with veggies, feta cheeses, spinach, sweet potatoes and herbs (made in advance then slice and take to work with you)
Porridge topped with berries, almond butter, nuts and seeds
*Keep an eye out on my Instagram page for plenty more healthy recipes
· Hydration – Aim to have at least 2 litres of water per day. Coffee and teas will be essential at times, however make sure you are not replacing your water with a caffeinated hot drink. Try and have 500ml of water with every tea or coffee.
· Fats – Try increasing your healthy fat intake. Fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are essential in the diet and play a particularly important role in supporting our nervous system and cognitive function. When feeling stressed, anxious, depressed and overwhelmed a good of source of omega-3 fatty acids will provide the building blocks for your brain to function. Fats such as wild salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, walnuts, flaxseeds are brilliant sources to include.
· Batch Cooking – if you have one day a week where you can spend a couple of hours in the kitchen this will ensure you have healthy, quick meals ready to go when you return home tired from work. Big veggie stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, overnight oats, frittatas and curries are great to have in the fridge and take little time to re-heat. Head to my Instagram page for lots of healthy recipe inspiration.
· Epsom Salt Baths- are rich in magnesium which is an important mineral for helping our nervous system. Try having an Epsom salt bath in the evenings to help you unwind, relax and aid sleep.
· Key Vitamins and Minerals – try and include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet, variety is key in maintaining a healthy diet. Try and increase Vitamin C rich foods such as citrus fruits, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes cherries, blackberries, papaya, strawberries. Vitamin D is also essential in supporting our immune system. Vitamin D is also found in oily fish such as mackerel, anchovies, herring, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms.
· Complex Carbohydrates – the next few months are going to feel like a marathon not a sprint and your body will require a constant stream of complex carbohydrates to fuel you. Try increasing your wholegrains such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, oats, barley, spelt, rye bread and butternut squash. These sources of carbohydrates will reduce the glycaemic load on the body but will still give you adequate levels of glucose for energy.
· Whole Foods – finally try to avoid ready-meals, convenience foods where possible. Think whole foods which are fresh fruits, vegetables, lean sources of proteins, small amounts of dairy, healthy fats, beans and legumes. Whole foods contain all of the essential vitamins and minerals that you need without the added processed ingredients.
These are just a few simple ways of trying to stay on top of your physical and mental health if you are working long hours and in stressful situations. If you can add a variety of key nutrients into your daily lifestyle this will really help support you and nourish you. I am offering free online nutrition consultations for all NHS workers over the next couple of months. If you would like to discuss your health or any nutrition related questions then please do get in touch. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org or book online via my website. Nutrition and a balanced diet can really play a key role in preventing exhaustion, mental fatigue and alleviating stress.