At Marian University, we believe choosing a career in healthcare should not impact your health negatively. However, being in a rush can often lead nurses and nursing students alike to make poor meal decisions. No matter how busy you become, choose meals that boost your energy and keep you healthy. Below, we outline a “good food” option containing energy boosting ingredients to contrast a “bad food” option that contains energy depleting ingredients for each meal of the day. Breakfast Blueberries and Oatmeal OR Blueberry Muffin: The morning rush to make your shift or class can often lead to picking the quickest option available for breakfast, such as muffins. Although these tasty pastries are delicious, they are rarely nutritious. Most blueberry muffin recipes call for enriched flour (which has been stripped of many vital nutrients), as well as butter and sugar. Consuming these three ingredients together lead to a crash in your blood-sugar levels, reducing your energy and brain function. If you can’t find a low-fat and low-sugar version of a blueberry muffin made with whole grain flour, switch out your morning muffin for three-fourths cup of oatmeal and one-third to one-half cup of fresh blueberries. Oatmeal is high in fiber, contains natural whole grains and has protein and other ingredients that make you feel full longer. Blueberries contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that deplete the body of free radicals and improve circulation. Lunch Salmon Burger and Sweet Potato Fries OR Cheeseburger and French Fries: Fast food may seem like the best selection on days when time is limited, but the time taken to prepare a balanced lunch can lead to increased awareness and overall better health. So stop turning to the drive-thru to grab an over-processed, barely substantial burger and fries. Instead, prepare a salmon burger on a whole grain bun with a little lemon and pepper with a side of sweet potato fries. Salmon is packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids and triglycerides that lower blood pressure. Sweet potatoes are a great side that adds vitamin A and fiber into the mix, making this option an energy-packed alternative. If you’re wondering where you will have the time to prepare a hearty meal like that during your busy days, fret not. Check your local grocery store for their pre-cooked salmon burgers in the frozen food section, where you can also find frozen sweet potato fries ready to be microwaved or baked. Turkey, chicken, black bean and veggie burgers are also great options and come in frozen, pre-cooked varieties that you can prepare in the microwave in minutes. Dinner Chicken Sausage Marinara and Whole Grain Pasta OR Spaghetti and Meatballs: Spaghetti and meatballs is known as comfort food to many, but its health benefits are few and far between. However, there are flavorful alternatives that offer that extra boost of energy you may need to get you through your night shift or late night studying. The swap to the healthy side doesn’t sacrifice any taste in this case, and there are many varieties of this pasta dish you can try. For this choice, prepare your spaghetti sauce the same way as you normally do, omitting the meat. If you buy your sauce, choose a low sodium, organic marinara sauce that uses vine ripened tomatoes, which are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Chicken sausage comes in many varieties at your local grocery store, but be sure to pay attention to the nutrition facts and choose an organic or all natural sausage free of nitrates. Prepare the chicken sausages as directed, slice and add to your marinara sauce. Serve over warm whole grain pasta for a balanced meal with sufficient servings of vegetables, protein and grains. We hope you will consider one or all of these options the next time you are choosing a meal to get you through your busy day. Eat small, healthy snacks between meals, such as one serving of unsalted almonds or a piece of fruit, to maintain your metabolism, blood sugar and energy. If you are interested in learning more about our accelerated nursing program, contact us!