By Lucy Peters
It may be one of the great ironies in our modern workforce that the diet of health employees is not as healthy as it should be. Given the demands of many health professionals, especially nurses and other frontliners, having the time to prepare meals, go out to a healthy lunch, or even stop to have a healthy snack can be challenging. Fortunately, a variety of initiatives are being implemented to make sure that healthcare workers stay healthy.
The root of the problem
Being a healthcare worker can be exceptionally demanding, and it can limit one’s ability to enjoy a healthy diet. Although many professionals, such as nurses, work as few as three days a week, the demands of the day can be incredibly taxing and prevent access to or time for a balanced diet: limited time for an actual lunch break, little time to leave the healthcare facility, and shifts that extend into overtime contribute to the problem. When you factor in swing shifts, increased demands because of health emergencies and the demands of taking care of a family, healthcare professions can be incredibly draining and compel employees to seek energy boosts in the form of caffeine, sugar and fast food. Making matters worse is the fact that many cafeterias and hospital dining facilities offer minimal healthy food options, or offer an abundance of fast food. For employees who are pressed for time and who prefer convenience, and therefore choose to eat in the hospital canteen, it’s no surprise that many healthcare workers succumb to poor eating habits.
Strategies to address the issue
Fortunately, a variety of strategies are being implemented to improve the dining options for healthcare workers. One approach involves educating and informing cafeteria patrons about the health benefits and risks of various food options with a color-coded information system. This system can also incorporate text messaging to update patrons on their cafeteria spending habits. Another option being sought is to improve the options being offered in the cafeteria, whether by limiting fast food options or making healthier options more presentable and appealing.
Given the rise of meal delivery services, there are a variety of companies offering healthy meal plans for delivery. These delivery providers, including Blue Apron, Home Chef and Green Chef, provide meal options that can accommodate a variety of dietary preferences, including keto, vegan and organic meals, while providing the same convenience as in-hospital dining. A rising number, including Green Chef, Purple Carrot and Sunbasket, are also working to make the meal delivery industry more sustainable. In many ways, enjoying healthy eating as a healthcare worker is much easier than before.
Health care workers aren’t always the beacons of health that we would assume based on their profession, but that doesn’t need to be the case. With a variety of changes in hospital dining options, improved presentation, and accessibility, healthcare workers will hopefully have much greater access to enjoying quality, nutritious and delicious meals during their hectic schedule. Likewise, with the prominence of various healthy meal plans for delivery, healthcare workers can expand their options and enjoy the convenience of a customized meal plan for delivery. These are just some of the measures available to ensure that healthcare workers stay healthy. If there’s anything we now appreciate, it’s that staying healthy, and keeping healthcare workers healthy, is critically important.
Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic-Integrative Health Care Specialist Certification Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.