Life as a locum tenens physician can be demanding, and you need to make sure your body is functioning properly in order to effectively provide care for your patients. Eating at least three balanced meals each day can help by ensuring you get the proper nutrition to maintain a healthy weight, boost energy, promote good sleep, and feel good overall.
A balanced meal should include one food from each food group: dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein. For help with preparing meals, we recommend using the Plate Method. This method is a surefire way to get the nutrients you need while on the road.
When you are in a new location, dining at fast food restaurants may seem like the most convenient option. After all, you’re probably already familiar with their menus and products. However, the better option is to choose a hotel with a kitchen or kitchenette, and stock up on healthy foods at the nearest grocery store. Alternatively, choose healthy meals that you can prepare without a kitchen, such as Greek salad or smoked salmon. If you do opt for a fast food meal or snack, do so sparingly and try to choose healthier menu items that are low in sugar, sodium, and calories.
Be Mindful About Snacking
In a recent blog post about how to get better sleep when working locum tenens, we reminded clinicians that evening snacking can impact sleep quality. Eating spicy foods can cause unstable sleep, while eating foods with caffeine - including chocolate - can make it hard to fall asleep.
Of course, the snacks you choose throughout the day can also impact your health when working locum tenens. Consider packing your own healthy snacks, such as nuts or fruits, that you can grab while on a quick break.
Don’t Be Afraid to Customize the Menu
Trying the local fare can be an exciting part of working locum tenens, but don’t be afraid to ask restaurants to make menu substitutions or to prepare dishes differently to cut down on calories or saturated fats. You can also avoid the health risks that can come from eating out too frequently simply by opting for baked entrees over fried versions, and by taking half your meal in a to-go box to be enjoyed the next day.
Don’t Have a Vacation Mindset
Finally, remember that you can continue eating healthy during your locum tenens assignment, no matter how long or short in duration. For many people like locum tenens physicians who travel for work or who work in new locations for months at a time, it’s tempting to treat the assignment like a vacation. However, being in a locum tenens role for six months is a lot different than traveling somewhere for a week or two. Eating and drinking to your heart’s content regularly can have negative repercussions for your long-term health.