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Whether that seems like a simple chore or a staggering obstacle, local nurses and nutrition experts suggest these tips for nurses trying to limit their sugar intake:
Treat protein like your new best friend. "To avoid a blood sugar roller coaster make sure you have a protein and healthy fat with each meal and snack," advised Jenny Askew, a cancer survivor and registered dietitian at Balance Fitness and Nutrition in Alpharetta. "By making this simple adjustment you will feel more satisfied, need to eat less frequently and have more energy. If you're currently a simple carb-o-holic, you'll see changes right away!"
Keeping a stock of protein-rich snacks at hand helps since medical settings can be sorely lacking the foods you'd need. "A snack-size baggie of almonds and craisins is good – that way it has the sugar and fats. To make it more filling, you could add half a cup of apple or Greek yogurt," Nancy Juarez Sanchez recommended. A bariatric nurse, she lost 70 pounds recently, in part from gastric sleeve weight loss surgery last year.
Go for the flavor boost. Sanchez said she also relies on different protein shakes recommended by the bariatric clinic dietitian, and Lora brand bars are her go-to snacks. With both, though, she urged fellow nurses watching their sugar to try new flavors to stay out of a rut. "Even if you haven't had bariatric surgery, if you don't try new ingredients, all those bars and shakes start to taste the same," she emphasized.
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Pack your own nutrition. Amanda Moorhouse is a health-conscious 20-year nursing veteran who has worked as a nurse practitioner in a leading hospital in East Tennessee for the past 10 years. "I always try to pack my lunch and try to keep fresh fruit and veggies on hand," she said.
Let yourself indulge a bit. Moorhouse doesn't see any point in giving up all sugary foods. "I don't always resist treats," she says. "Sometimes I treat myself, but I might only have a half of a donut or something like that instead of indulging in the entire treat."
Stay hydrated. While it's a myth that your body often confuses thirst and hunger, you can avoid lots of sugary temptations just by staying hydrated, Moorhouse added. That helps you avoid the fatigue that leads to carb cravings.
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Be mindful of what you're eating. The annoying "food log" where you write down everything you eat for a few days can be very helpful here. So can being aware of the places and situations that inspire sugary snack consumption. "I have to be really cautious around what I'm eating around my desk," Sanchez added. "When you work in a medical facility, you get a lot of reps constantly bringing in snacks or food. I also have to remind myself that a latte late in my shift still counts as calories."
And stay busy. Part of Moorhouse's healthy weight strategy is keeping the focus off of sugar in particular and eating in general. "Sometimes what helps the most is just trying to be active or stay busy," she said. "That's a good way to avoid the mindless snacking on unhealthy things."