In considering overall nursing performance and ways to effectively optimize our efforts and wellbeing, providing staff education on self-care in nursing quickly comes to mind. One area in particular that we find important to educate nursing staff on is nutrition and how healthy eating habits impact our work. As nurses, our behavior can model the healthy choices that we aim to educate our patients on. We are frequently working long hours and may find ourselves reaching for non-nutritious foods to help us get through our shifts. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing published a fantastic article regarding health promotion via nutrition to improve outcomes for nurses and patients. In the article, the author explained:
"Nurses are also an integral part of providing nutrition related information to patients. As such, patients may be very cognizant of the health habits of their nurses. Eating for good health is one way that nurses can reduce the impact of stressors on the body and positively influence their health, allowing them to better care for patients and themselves" (Reed, 2014).
These statements bring forward the idea that nurses not only function as positive role models, but also as patient educators on wellness and self-care. Personally, we try to echo these precedents and incorporate healthy snacks into our home and work lives, while also educating nurses and other professional peers on the importance of eating healthy foods. In recalling various times that we have prepared and shared nutritious snacks with co-workers, Andy reflects on a time that he had a work party on a weekend shift where everyone brought in something to share. He prepared high-protein/high-fiber cupcakes, made with all natural organic ingredients. The frosting used a high-protein Icelandic-style yogurt as a base. The cupcakes turned out to not only be delicious, but also added a punch of nutrition to his coworker’s intake throughout the shift. The lower sugar and higher protein content avoided a blood sugar spike and crash mid-shift; just the right glycemic control they needed to maintain their pace during their busy shift!
Improving our own personal knowledge on nutrition and incorporating it into our lives aids in improving the knowledge we can spread to our patients. As nurse educators, we can be educated on these topics for ourselves and transfer this knowledge to our nursing peers and patients through education.
Think or Journal: How do my eating habits influence my performance? How can I make health-driven adjustments to my nutritional intake? Have I been positively stimulating self-care and wellness through effective education and modeling? If not, how can I work to incorporate staff development to inspire change that revolves around a culture of wellness?
Reed, D. (2014). Healthy eating for healthy nurses: Nutrition basics to promote health for nurses and patients. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 19(3). Retrieved from http://ojin.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-19-2014/No3-Sept-2014/Healthy-Eating-for-Healthy-Nurses.html