Healthy Snacks to Help Nurses Get Through Lengthy Shifts

Monica Lin - 07/08/19

Registered nurses can have a variety of different daily schedules, ranging from five-eight hour days, four-ten hours days, or three-twelve hour days per week. Because shifts can often be tiring and lengthy, oftentimes, nurses don’t have the availability to eat what they need to eat or want to eat in order to be healthier. In fact, according to an article on Nursing Outlook, 53% to 61% of nurses’ health in the U.S. is at risk due to poor dietary habits. Though there is no quick fix for this issue because of the very nature of nursing shifts and the vigorous work of such an occupation, there are ways to better one’s health and alleviate potential risks associated with poor eating habits. Nurses often do not take meal breaks and when they do, they do not have a period of time that is long enough to consume a full meal, as such, healthy snacks can really help in sustaining energy levels throughout a shift and helping nurses achieve healthier lifestyles for the long-run. 

Caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks and coffee might seem like a good idea for a short burst of energy, but unfortunately, these often cause crashes later and are poor for one’s health. Cookies, chips, and other rather unhealthy snacks from vending machines might seem tempting, but these also do not offer great relief to the problem stated above. Below is a short list of snacks that can help nurses power through their long shifts and stay healthy, starting with more obvious answers and working towards things that you may have to go out of your way to incorporate into your diet. 


If you’re craving something sweet, then fruit can be an optimal choice in place of a chocolate bar or cookie. Because it is a simple carbohydrate, it gives short, quick energy boosts, but fruit is still a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium. In addition, they are a wonderful source of dietary fiber, which can help boost the health of your digestive system. Try to stay away from incredibly sweet fruits such as bananas, peaches, and pineapples; rather, apples and oranges are better options in this case. 


Nuts are, for the most part, good providers of fat, fiber, and protein. Additionally, picking the right nuts is important; look for ones that contain a good mix of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids so that you can feel full, well, and energetic. Almonds, cashews, and pistachios, according to Heathline, are great choices as snacks because they are low in calories. Additionally, avoid nuts that are salted or roasted in oil and try buying plain nuts to make your own trail mix instead!

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has a lot of protein and comes in many different flavors, and because of these factors, can be a healthy snack for nurses on their shifts! In addition to 12 to 20 grams of protein per serving, greek yogurt also comes adds calcium and probiotics to your body to keep your bones and your digestive system happy and healthy. According to Shape Magazine, yogurt can prevent high blood pressure, keep colds away, and give you much-needed vitamins. Shape Magazine also recommends Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt and Stonyfield Organic Plain Lowfat Yogurt as healthy yogurts to try. Such yogurts can also be paired with fresh fruit or chia seeds for additional health benefits. 


Edamame is a soybean, and it is becoming an increasingly popular snack choice for those trying to maintain healthy diets. It contains a lot of protein, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. According to Medical News Today, one cup of edamame provides ten percent of an adult’s calcium needs, sixteen percent of vitamin C, and twenty percent of iron. You can buy them shelled, in the pod, or frozen, and they are more easily accessible than one might think!

Turkey Roll-Ups

Turkey is a great source of lean protein, though deli-style turkey contains high levels of sodium. Instead of opting for that, try to purchase low-sodium options. One serving of turkey has about eighteen grams of protein, and this healthy snack can get even more nutritional if you add in some baby carrots, red bell pepper, or celery. These combinations can help your brain and body fed, hydrated, and energized during long nursing shifts. 

Meal Replacement Shakes

If you are really short on time, you can drink a meal replacement shake while on your shift in order to get your necessary intake of protein, fats, and calories. With this option, you must be careful, though, because meal replacement shakes are often very calorie-heavy; if you opt for this option, don’t eat any snacks before drinking the shake. Soylent is a popular option, though BodyNutrition ranks Ample and Idealshake as some of the best shakes of the year as they have a good amount of protein and carbohydrates.

Though in many ways, these options may not be as tasty or convenient as getting chips or cookies from the vending machine or just not eating at all, there are an incredible number of benefits from taking just a little bit of extra time to go out and buy these snacks and bring them into work for nurses on their shifts. Heightened energy levels, better eating habits, improved emotional and mental stability, and increased health for the long term are all made possible through healthy snacking!