Smart Snacks: Foods to Keep your Brain Sharp

February 23, 2016

What do you eat in the middle of your shift when you need a little pick-me-up? The food you put in your body can either give you a boost or leave you with your feet dragging.

Travel nurses have a lot to do, so finding out which brain power foods give you focus and energy is crucial. Part of the fun of working as a travel nurse is exploring new cities, and the right diet gives you the motivation to enjoy it.

Whole Wheat for Complex Carbs

Carbohydrates have a bad rep, but they boost your concentration just when you need it. The key is to focus on complex carbs, as opposed to sugar, which comes with energy drop. A whole wheat English muffin, for example, has just the right amount of calories and complex carbohydrates to give you a much-needed burst of energy. You can add even more brain power to your snack by topping off the muffin with a teaspoon of peanut butter.

Chunk Light Tuna

Peanut butter is not a good choice for nurses on shift since this can potentially put patients with peanut allergies at risk. If you are working, consider topping your whole wheat muffin with chunk light tuna, instead. That snack choice offers protein and has the added omega-3 fatty acid bonus. Omega-3 is associated with cardiac health, brain development and mood enhancement. Add a glass of soymilk or orange juice to balance things out.

Don’t Fear Glucose

Sugar is not the best choice for snacking unless your blood sugar is low. If you feel weak and sleepy, then a sweet drink may be a good option, especially if it has been a while since your last meal. If you do opt for a sugar rush, keep the portions small, like a couple bites of chocolate or half a can of soda. This will give you a little pep without making you feel like you need a nap an hour later. Add a few complex carbs like wheat crackers to sustain the energy longer.

Binge on Some Blueberries

Dark fruits are always a practical choice and blueberries top that list. They protect the brain with antioxidants and improve cognition and memory. Blueberries and blackberries are super foods because the dark color gives them more antioxidants than light-colored fruits, and they are sweet enough to give you a quick boost while you work. Add them to a bowl of cereal and unsweetened almond milk for a crunchy snack that gives you power.

Enjoy Dark Veggies, Too

The power of dark colored food carries over to vegetables, as well. Spinach, kale and broccoli are rich with antioxidants. They are also good sources of iron and B-12, which provides energy at the right time. A snack of dark veggies, raw or cooked, will improve your memory and increase alertness.

Top It Off With a Cuppa Joe

If you really need something to get you moving, top off your energy boosting snack food with a cup of coffee or green tea.

Even the healthiest of snack foods can’t replace a good night’s sleep, but during a long shift or while seeing the sites, brain power foods can get you through until you are able to get some shut eye.