#Everyday Health

How I am staying healthy while working in the ER during the pandemic

// September 18, 2020

Throughout this pandemic, there has been much attention to the toll it is taking on healthcare workers in emergency room settings. Taking care of myself is more essential than ever. What does that mean? It’s living the concepts of free medicine that I preach: daily movement, sunshine, social connection, sleep, hydration and low glycemic nourishment.  

Here is what my daily routine now looks like.

My preparation for my 6 a.m. ER shift starts the day before. Since I will need to be in bed by 9 p.m., I make sure I’m exhausted by doing a long, slow cardio workout sometime during the day. Usually that’s a five to six mile run for about an hour. I eat my last meal around 6 p.m. If I’m still not tired by 9 p.m., I may take CBD. It helps me sleep a bit better and reduces the inflammation in my body generated by my long run.

The next morning, my alarm goes off at 5 a.m. As soon as I wake up, I use a JOOVE red light therapy box. Because it’s still dark outside, I’m losing out on very healthy morning sunlight. Plus, I’ll be indoors all day. So, I supplement by getting full-spectrum red light through this light box.

Eating anchors the circadian rhythm, so I make sure to have a low-carb breakfast consisting of mostly protein and fat: Usually this is a protein shake or an omelet. I also take supplements: omega-3 oils, a multivitamin and multimineral, and CoQ10. Notice I hold off on the coffee for the first few hours. I avoid big jolts to the system!  

Once I’m at work and my shift starts, I hydrate. Usually I just drink water, but if needed, I may add some electrolytes. Lunch, which may not come until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., is completely balanced but not very large, maybe 500 to 600 calories at most. It will include carbs, proteins, fats and fiber.

By the time I get home, I’m ready for a cup of coffee to help me over my slight afternoon slump. Then I’ll work out to feel even more energized. Because I did a long cardio the day before, I will typically do a high-intensity workout.  

A little more about my diet

Since the pandemic started, I’ve been avoiding desserts, which is a struggle. I love ice cream and cheesecake. I’ve also had no alcohol but I’m not a big drinker anyway. And I’m not doing intermittent fasting right now.

I do eat the same salad every day for dinner as my green vegetable. This salad is a combination of raw, chopped spinach; diced tomatoes; blueberries; walnuts and slightly sautéed mushrooms. I use either chia oil or Malaysian palm oil for my dressing, seasoned with a little pepper. It gives me all the micronutrients I need as well as plenty of antioxidants.

I also make sure I have protein for all three meals. That equates to anywhere from 50 to 70 grams of protein a day which is ideal for my body weight. If you eat too much protein, you’ll wind up feeling bloated.

During these anxious times, it is important that all of us take precautions to keep our minds and bodies healthy. Get some form of exercise daily. Avoid foods that sabotage your body’s ability to fight the damaging effects of stress. Instead, choose ingredients that your body can use to fuel a healthy response to stress. And make sure nothing gets in the way of consistently getting a good night’s rest.