Woman holding bowl of yogurt and granola
Profiles and Features October 23, 2020

Tips for Busy Nurses: Easy, Energizing and Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Nurses work in a high-energy environment and often have to power through long nursing shifts

These five easy breakfast tips for busy nurses will help ensure you have the stamina you need to meet your professional demands without sacrificing a healthy diet.

5 Easy Tips For Busy Nurses To Enjoy Healthy And Energizing Breakfasts

1. Aim for complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs

One of the easiest breakfast tips for nurses to boost energy in a healthy way is to include complex carbohydrates in their breakfast. 

The body converts carbs into energy, but simple carbs, such as sugars and dairy, are processed quickly and can leave you feeling sluggish before your next meal. 

Aim for complex carbs in your breakfast, like oatmeal or whole grain breads, to slow digestion and give you the kind of energy that lasts.

2. Watch our glycemic index

The glycemic index is often associated with diabetics, but it can be beneficial for the rest of the population as well. When your body breaks food down for energy, the process temporarily raises sugars in the blood.
Foods high on the glycemic index are processed more rapidly, leading to a greater spike in blood sugar and a "crash" after the resulting energy is depleted. Sticking to meals with lower glycemic index scores will give you more sustained energy and can also lower your risk for stroke, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. 

If you crave something higher on the scale, it's acceptable to balance it out by pairing it with a food that scores lower. The point is to keep your average glycemic score low for the entire meal.

3. Limit processed foods

Processed foods are often high in sugars and salt, making them a poor choice in breakfast ideas for nurses. 

High sugars will give you an immediate boost but will deplete rapidly, leading to a crash in energy levels soon after. High salt content can contribute to dehydration which also brings energy levels down. 

One of the simpler dietary tips for busy nurses is to stick with whole foods that help keep energy levels where they should be and don't include the unhealthy additives used in processed foods to increase shelf-life and improve taste.

4. Include healthy fats

Not all fats are created equal, and it's a good idea to keep general fat consumption low due to its high calorie count. However, some fats are actually considered healthy and offer a range of benefits when consumed in moderation. 

Along with improving cholesterol levels and heart health, certain healthy fats, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, also support brain health. Try including a healthy fat in your breakfast, such as pairing avocado with whole grain toast or mixing flax seeds in your oatmeal. 

Other nurse health tips regarding fats are to avoid foods that are high in trans fat and saturated fat and choose liquid fats over solids.

5. Keep preparation simple

For those in nursing, tips for a healthy breakfast must be balanced with quick preparation. There are two ways to reduce your morning prep time when getting ready for your shift. 

The easiest involves choosing options that involve minimal preparation steps. A little cooking spray in a coffee cup creates the perfect egg-cooker for the microwave, creating perfectly round eggs for breakfast sandwiches or a no-hassle omelet. 

A Greek yogurt parfait that includes nuts, berries and granola provides the complex carbs, protein, healthy fats and antioxidants you need to to work your shift but only takes a moment to prepare. 

If you prefer something that takes a little more time, consider prepping your food in advance. Choose one or two days to create and freeze or store your breakfasts for the week.

Breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day, and these five tips for busy nurses ensure your breakfast is packed with healthy ingredients that will help you keep up with your energy needs. 

The ingredients you work with will depend on your personal tastes and preferences, but the best breakfast ideas for nurses include complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats from unprocessed, whole food sources and require minimal preparation time.