Achieving an ideal work-life balance is never easy, especially as a nurse. With overtime and shiftwork, and just plain exhaustion, looking after your diet can become a low priority. To keep you on track and inspired in your NurseStrong journeys, we have some ideas to satisfy your hunger whilst eating foods your body will love, whatever the situation.


You are…

On night shift

Prepare ahead! Schedule in time on your days off to write a list, shop and prepare meals for your upcoming block of work. As you can’t know how busy your shifts will be (or sometimes when you’ll get a break), make sure your meals are ready-to-eat without too much fuss. Ensure you include some healthy snacks too, especially if you know you’ll otherwise end up at the vending machine later.

Why not freeze some meals to make your prep last event longer? You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Some staple favourites may include: carrot sticks with hummus, crispbread with avocado, fruit, chicken salad or bircher muesli in a jar.



Always bring a water bottle and stay hydrated when you are out and about. This will stop you buying sugary drinks and feeling hydrated will help prevent hunger too.

Pop a selection of nice teabags in your handbag to mix it up – you can always ask for hot water on the plane or boil the kettle at your hotel.

Pack your own healthy snacks, such as some packets of nuts that won’t spoil easily while you are on the road.


Sick of wasting time shopping

Get your groceries delivered. As you have to make the list for the week, it also forces you to plan ahead.

The major supermarkets have easy to use websites and are very convenient for many. You could also organise a weekly box of fruit and vegetables from your local food co-op or straight from a farmer.

The availabilities will differ depending on where you live, and some may not be an option for rural and remote areas. Research the options available in your region.


Exhausted from the week

Practice self-care. Turn on your favourite music, whip up a delicious and simple-to-make treat like some healthy pancakes with fruit and enjoy! Have something you can relish, you deserve it!

If that sounds like too much for right now, then reach to the freezer for your prepared meal of choice to heat in the microwave. Once you have some energy back, don’t forget to remake another batch for next time!


Craving junk food

Put a twist on your favourite junk food. Cooking it yourself, rather than succumbing to takeaway, increases the chance that it will be good for you already – you have the control over all the elements, for example, you can limit the sugar and salt or choose a wholemeal version.

You could try: lentil butter chicken, baked pita bread nachos, burgers with Portobello mushroom buns.


Needing inspiration

Collect your recipes! When you find recipes you love and that fit well with your routine, health goals (or your family’s fussy palettes), keep them! Rather than rely on your overcommitted brain to remember it, keep a recipe journal, a note in your phone or even a Pinterest board for successful recipes. This way, when it is time for meal-planning, you have a bunch of tried and true ideas to get you started.

Keep a log of the recipes you want to try too – for those days when you need to inject something new into your repertoire.


Needing support

NurseStrong is about connecting with others and motivating each other to look after ourselves. If you’d like some motivation, some tips and recipes from other nurses or to make some great new connections, join the ACN NurseStrong Facebook page here.


All in all, some planning ahead will help you in the long run. Let us know how you go! Share your own ideas in the comments below, or on social media using the hashtag #ACNNurseStrong.


NurseStrong is ACN’s campaign to empower nurses around the country to achieve the health and wellbeing they deserve.


  1. I spend about an hour a week normally on Sunday to decide what I will eat that week and make a shopping list and do a cook up at dinner. Like to keep my meals frozen so can take them to work. I’ve decided that having 3 meals around 400 cals is working with shift work and planning. I am normally a bad choc person- but allow myself 4 pieces of dark choc when I have the urge it fixes that! I also use a calarie app – lose it where I record what I’ve eaten, exercise, water intake and weight!

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