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The emergency department doesn’t sleep, and quite frankly, my sleep schedule is consistent with the hours of my ED shifts. I work all of them. Day, evening, swing, unit clerk, tech, sitter, triage, 8s, 12s, 16s, and now, the occasional…night shift. And that’s the thing. I usually don’t work a stretch of nights. I’ve worked 1-2 in a row at most and transitioned back to normal, but not necessarily with ease!

In fact, I hadn’t pulled an all-nighter ONCE in my life until I worked my first night shift last summer… I was always the kid at sleepovers who wanted to go to bed before midnight. If I’m being honest, I dreaded this moment – the one where I had to work while the rest of the world sleeps. I didn’t want to mess with my sleep schedule, I didn’t know what to expect or how things are run, and I had a lot of anxiety about it.

But surprisingly enough, the girl who was dreading nights ended up enjoying night shift – would maybe go as far to say preferring it!! Much of my anxiety with these stemmed from not knowing what to expect. When will I take my break? How busy is it during the night? What if I get too tired to function? From someone who had no idea what they were doing, or what to expect, here’s how I can ease YOUR way into nights – all the things I wish I had been told.


BEFORE night shift:

  1. Shower & brush your teeth.

For no other reasons besides the fact that a shower wakes you up, makes you feel clean & refreshed, and smelling good throughout the rest of your shift. Before my first night shift, I forgot to brush my teeth that night. TMI…? yup. I wish someone had told me that it makes a huge difference. But that’s why I blog. 😉

2. Glasses > contacts.

If you wear glasses/contacts, take your contacts out and swap for your specs. Tired eyes are not fun, but they’re even worse when you have contacts in. Just do yourself a favor and wear your glasses!

3. Don’t bother wearing makeup.

Ladies, if you happen to meet your future spouse on night shift, I guarantee he/she will not care what you look like either. This gives your skin a chance to breathe. Even though you’re not “supposed to,” rubbing your eyes feels great, too. Just be comfortable and moisturize your face well. 😀


DURING night shift:

  1. There are less people around.

Guess what? At 3 am, there aren’t as many people roaming the hallways of the hospital. Most people in the world are sleeping. Now, no guarantees here, but this usually means you have less patients, too. You tend to be a little more “free.” For me, this means wearing a sweatshirt over my scrubs to stay warm and taking a 4 am coffee break.

2. Eat when you’re hungry.

Don’t eat because you feel you have to take a break at a certain time. I usually don’t bring a full “meal” with when I work nights. Instead, my go-tos are usually:

  • a banana
  • a protein bar
  • water/sparkling water
  • raw, chopped up veggies – like bell peppers!

In fact, I find myself feeling the need to eat, but when listening to my body, I’m not actually hungry. Eating small snacks throughout will make you less full overall and probably decrease your chance of feeling nauseous in the middle of the night, like we have all experienced. Oh, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated.

3. It’s a normal shift.

Sure, you’re working when the world sleeps, but (especially) if you’re in the emergency department too, it’s just like any other shift. I am assigned the same tasks as I’d carry out during a day shift. The ER is a well-oiled machine that functions 24/7. The only difference with night shift is that you’re working in the middle of the night. This is great to tell yourself if you’re any bit anxious about how the night will go.


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Stella was yawning too. Or maybe just that happy to see me when I got off work.

 

AFTER night shift:

1. Brush your teeth and shower.

Yup, you probably just did this before your shift. Get those hospital germs off before you sleep. Wash your face and hair, and brush your teeth. In other words, make sure you take care of yourself.

2.  Sleep for 4 hours.

Yes, 4 hours. Think of this like a nap. If you feel ok, get up and go do things. Make lunch, exercise, do what you have to do. If you’re too tired to function, sleep for a few more hours or watch an episode or two of The Office or Grey’s Anatomy until you can get up to “normal” human function. This is hard on your body – it doesn’t like to be awake throughout the night, after all! Be nice to yourself, too.

3. Melatonin. 

There it is. If I know I’m going to have trouble falling asleep, I will take 2.5-3 mg of melatonin anyway. But after a night shift or two, I take 5 mg (the max dosage recommended dose one should take is 6 mg) about 2 hours before I want to be sleeping. It knocks me out and keeps me asleep. I usually feel great when I wake up. Because your sleep schedule is all out of whack now, I take half that dosage of melatonin (2.5 mg) the following night. I’ve had no problems since. 🙂

What else?

  • The environment seems to be much more relaxed. My department turns the lights down in the nurses’ station, we wear jackets to stay warm, and
  • It’s a lot easier when you go into work if it’s bright out. My department doesn’t have windows, so if I go in when it’s bright outside, it never really “feels” like nighttime. That’s because of the melatonin production secreted by the pineal gland in our brains. Melatonin is released when the receptors in our eyes pick up light. Science is cool.

 

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It’s a tiny little structure!!!

 


And with that, I present to you, the night shift, as told by the non-night-shifter. Comments? Questions? Feedback? Shoot me a message!

All my love,

xx,

M

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My friends at Banish sent me a few samples from their company to try out a few weeks ago. I gladly accepted after I read their philosophy and ingredient lists. For one, their ingredients are amazing. Being a nutritionist, you better believe I read labels and what goes into my body and on my skin. I was stunned at Banish’s lists. I can recognize and pronounce every single one of their products – a rarity. Here are my thoughts!

*Disclaimer: I will not support or partner with companies that test on animals, unethically source their products, or market something that doesn’t resonate with my core beliefs.*


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Activated Charcoal Mask:

This one comes in the jar as a powder. I love that you mix the powder with water yourself and apply this mask with a brush. Its shelf life will be so much longer than other masks I’ve tried! After taking this one off after letting it dry, my face felt clean and refreshed. The charcoal sticks to blackheads and appears to draw them out. It is a simple mixture and fragrance-free. This mask is definitely a product I would recommend to others – especially if you have sensitive skin, and want a clean, refreshed feeling afterwards.

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Pumpkin Enzyme Mask:

Ingredient list = nothing better. This mask is a little more on the clumpy side and more difficult to apply. That didn’t stop me from loving it, however. This mask also has a killer ingredient list and leaves your face clean. My immediate thoughts are that it almost instantly makes your face feel tight. I would guess this is due to the enzymatic activity in the mask. It looks and smells like pumpkin pie, and in fact, my roommate was tempted to taste it!

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The Banisher and Banish Oil:

If I’m going to be totally honest  I was terrified when I first saw this device. After reading about it and how to use it though, I was down to try. The Banisher is a facial roller with tiny, tiny (or micro) needles on the roller. Wait, why would you want to do that to your face? The Banisher is marketed to be your own, at-home microneedling treatment. And that is exactly what it does. I believe it is ideal for acne-scarred and damaged skin.

Myself? I have been blessed with fairly clear skin historically, so I don’t think this is the right tool for me. I did not use this product consistently, either. However, the Banish oil is very hydrating, non-greasy-feeling, and feels great after a shower, before bed. I can’t wait to use it in the winter with dry skin!

And as for the Banisher itself? If you have acne-prone or scarred skin, I say give it a shot. It’s all-natural and isn’t a radical treatment that could harm you for trying.

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Vitamin C Elixar

This stuff smells really good – citrus-y and fresh. I’ve probably used this product the most of them all. It is great to freshen up with and feels as though it’s actually conditioning your skin. It is perfect to use before bed or in the morning after moisturizer.


I was very impressed with this company and their products. If you have acne-prone skin, give this brand a try. Even if these products don’t clear up your skin, they are unlikely to harm it due to the quality & purity of their ingredients. Even if you don’t have acne-prone skin like myself, the masks and oils are high quality and are made from nutritionist-approved ingredients! 😉

Read more on Banish’s philosophy and product details on the links attached.

Banish, thank you so much for choosing me to review your products. You’re doing a great job. ❤

xx,

M

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My preceptor has assigned me plenty of reads to enhance my experience as a student-nutritionist this summer. Without getting into specific details about the clinic I work at, I can say that a large portion of our patients are refugees, immigrants, or both. I have been enriched by various cultural experiences right with my own patients. This book was extremely fitting.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down is a story about a Hmong family who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. The large family settled in Merced, California among other Hmong families. The Lee family had a healthy daughter named Lia who later developed a seizure disorder when she was 3 months old. This story describes the challenges with a language barrier, and not only that, but the lack of similar terminology across different languages. During certain parts, when Lia was brought to the emergency department, I couldn’t stop reading.

If you plan on going into medicine, nursing, pharmacy, or any other allied healthcare profession, READ THIS STORY.

In the United States, we nearly unanimously agree with modern medicine and our healthcare system. When you go to an ER, you expect to wait. You trust the physicians to diagnose you based on how they examine you, what your scan looks like, and how your labs come back. We believe and trust our doctors, and if we don’t, we can get a second opinion. What if something goes horribly wrong in our care? A misdiagnosis that leads to mistreatment? We have options. But if those things cannot be communicated, much less understood, would you feel safe trusting these professionals?

This story is a reminder of perspective and that our system in the US is simply one way of tackling the healing process. That’s all it comes down to; wanting the best for our patients and their families and making them feel better. That’s why we choose medicine. If you choose to read this story, which I highly encourage, you will learn so much about the US medical system, you will learn about the Hmong culture, and you will learn to be more culturally sensitive. Find it here.

Happy reading!

xx,

M

 

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A city, a district that is rich in history, people, and endless things to do whether you’re a history buff or not. The streets are cobblestone, homes are rows upon rows of…row homes, and culture & diversity are abundant. I had never been to this busy, trendy, yet historic city before, but I am extremely glad I was able to visit our nation’s capital. A friend and I decided spontaneously on February 14, Valentine’s Day, that we were going to go visit a mutual friend who was interning at the National Rural Health Institute this summer. Boy am I glad we did. I learned quite a bit about our country in our short few days at our nation’s capital. With this, I took away a few things that may help you if you decide to visit this beautiful place.


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morning MARC train

ONE: FLY INTO BWI

Flying into Washington, DC from ND was not the most cost-effective option, but flying into Baltimore was MUCH better (not to mention the usage of SkyMiles). Regardless, if you want to visit DC, I recommend looking for tickets for Baltimore-Washington International airport and then taking the $8 MARC train into DC from the airport. If you have the luck I had, it will probably be much more affordable than flying into Reagan.

TWO: METRO

Like most big cities, taking the subway/metro/tube/ ETC is probably your best bet of getting from destination A –> B in terms of cost, time, and experience. Navigating the Metro is easy, in fact, the most difficult thing you might have to do is change trains to get to your final destination. Riding the Metro is what the people of that city do every day. Sure, you’re a tourist and just visiting, and yep, you probably look like one too, but you’ll get to see what the locals do as well as feel the vibes of the city.

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food truck burrito bowl with kimchi 

THREE: FOOD TRUCKS

Like most big cities, one could argue that everything is expensive in DC. This includes food. But on Urban Street, you’ll find an abundance of food trucks. Food truck food tends to be less expensive than dining in, and it’s usually fresh. We ate on Urban Street twice – the first time I got a chicken burrito bowl with kimchi, and the second, rice and garlic ginger spinach, broccoli, and cabbage. Each of my meals were between $7-8, were huge portions, and very, very, very delicious.

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basement air b+b

FOUR: AIR B&B

I’m sure that not everyone’s experience with Air B&B is amazing, but we could not have been more satisfied with our stay. This is an affordable option for travelers that gives you something hotels don’t: being in a neighborhood. With residents of that neighborhood. Ours was in the basement of a red row home, included wifi, metro cards, and bike passes. On top of this, we were in the middle of a beautiful historic neighborhood staying amongst the locals. If you’re interested in our exact spot, (which I totally recommend), click here.

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tourist?

FIVE: NATIONAL MALL

Do your research ahead of time on which monuments and museums you would like to see while you’re visiting the area. I was in DC for 4 full days, saw plenty, and didn’t see even more. If you weren’t previously informed, the monuments and museums are all free admission. Hell yes. We made it to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (get your free tickets ahead of time!), the Museum of Natural History, the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. Absolutely beautiful and so very beautifully American.

My favorites? 

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espresso + vanilla w/ dark chocolate
  • Gelato at Pitango nearly nightly; the espresso flavor is to die for.
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my favorite exhibit.

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  • The Food exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It displays the different changes in our country’s food system throughout the years including cooking devices like the George Foreman grill, as well as the evolution of the government-issued food pyramids over across history.

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  • The shops in Georgetown as well as Georgetown Cupcakes. It’s a must.

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  • George Washington University’s Medical Campus and seeing the emergency department where Ronald Reagan was taken after being shot (and saved), in the 1980s.
  • The Lincoln Memorial – it’s HUGE, dare I say monumental. 😉 Way bigger than I had pictured in my 8th grade US History class.

As mentioned previously, you cannot leave this city saying you’ve “done it all.” It’s not possible. The key is to get the most out of your experience. 🙂  If you’re heading to our nation’s capital for vacation or a conference, I hope this helps you get the most out of it.

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Cheers, and happy travels!

xx,

M

 

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Spaghetti carbonara is a favorite amongst us Americans. It’s rich and full of flavor, and makes for the ultimate comfort food. But, like most comfort foods, it’s richness will weigh you down.

Being the huge advocate for comfort food that I am, I’ve been recipe testing this dish for a while, hoping to get it just right. I think I’ve found a winner. Instead of compromising flavor, I’m adding protein, veggies, and lightening up the dish.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Banza spaghetti
  • 1 c. cooked peas
  • 1/2 c. cooked broccoli (shredded)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • about 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper

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Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and RINSE. This is especially important if you are using a starchy pasta made from lentil, bean, or quinoa flour!
  2. Return the pot to the burner. Turn to medium heat and saute garlic for about 5 minutes.
  3. –> TURN THE HEAT OFF <– extremely important!*
  4. Add pasta, peas, and broccoli to pot and begin to stir to combine.
  5. Quickly add beaten eggs (as to not scramble them!!!) to pot and stir.
  6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Top with fresh parsley, grated parmesan, or shredded asiago.

 

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Notes:

*turning the heat off is the most important step of this dish; if you do not, you will risk scrambling the eggs you’re adding. As much as we all love scrambled eggs, I don’t imagine you’d love them in your pasta 😀

*Banza pasta is gluten free, and made from chickpeas thus giving it a higher protein content than white pasta. You can supplement any kind of pasta you like, but using a pasta made from a legume (like chickpeas), will give this dish the higher protein content

*Again, rinsing your pasta is the second most important step. Because you’re using a gluten free, high protein pasta, it is full of plant-based fiber (hence making it starchy). Rinsing your pasta will get rid of this extra starch and make the texture and flavor much better in your dish.

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enjoy!

xx,

M

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I could talk about bananas for quite a long time.

DID YOU KNOW…

One medium banana constitutes one of your two recommended servings of for the day.

One banana alone makes up for about 20% of your daily potassium recommendation.

One banana is the perfect pre-workout or post-workout fuel due to its carb content and potassium content that helps replenish the electrolytes that are lost in sweat.

In fact, did you know that the other electrolyte, sodium, is overly-consumed in the SAD (standard American diet), but potassium is likely to be deficient? Dietary potassium isn’t as readily available as dietary sodium, but once you’re aware of the foods that are rich in the micronutrient, it becomes much easier to consume foods that contain more potassium.

So long story short, bananas make for a versatile snack, are pre-packaged by mother nature, and are full of macronutrients AND micronutrients.

We all know that bananas vary greatly throughout their post-picked life span. When bananas are green in color, they are rich in probiotics, but most of us don’t desire the taste because they don’t present very sweet at this stage. When bananas are light to dark yellow, they’re sweeter and more enjoyable to eat. When bananas start getting spots, that’s when you know they’re on their way out, but probably pretty sweet. This is my personal favorite stage* 😀 However, when bananas start turning dark brown and the spots are more and more numerous, you might find yourself wanting to throw them away, as I do. BUT DON’T DO IT – at any of the described stages! Aged bananas are a versatile ingredient to have on hand. Let me show you some of the wonderful things you can do before you think about throwing your precious bananas out.


 

1. mash them:

 

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Add a mashed banana to your oatmeal before you cook it, add it to your peanut butter toast for breakfast or a snack, or top your pancakes with a mashed banana – you won’t even need syrup!

When? Perfect for that lightly spotted-medium spotted stage.

2. freeze them: 

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Frozen bananas are the staple to the majority of the smoothies I make because they A) make your smoothie creamier, B) naturally sweeten your smoothie and C) and make it cold without adding ice that will eventually water your smoothie down. To freeze, I recommend cutting the banana in half, peeling the banana, and placing in an airtight bag or container and let freeze for at least 12 hours.

When?  In the darkened-spotted stage for peak sweetness but not when the entire banana is browned or else you’ll have a mushy banana.

3. bake them:

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Banana bread, baked oatmeal, healthier cookies, etc. Again, bananas provide natural sweetness and serve as a binding agent in several recipes. What’s not to love there?

When? This is when those BROWN bananas come in clutch. Mash them up well and incorporate into your favorite recipe!

 

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I hope bananas make you this happy too.

xx,

M

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The name of the book sounds…scary. And as we all know, the food industry in the United States can be rather that way. You are probably aware that obesity rates are increasing and not showing any signs of letting up, in fact, it continues to increase over time. You probably know that sugar is “bad,” and high fructose corn syrup is even worse as far as long term health consequences go. You have probably been told that burgers should not be a staple of your diet. But what SHOULD you eat? Read this one to find out. You’ll find that it’s a lot more simple than you’d think!

Dr. Furhman, a family medicine-trained medical doctor takes the current research behind diet and nutrition and applies it on a smaller scale. He also takes American history and gives insight as to how some of the deprivation we face has started – something I had hardly thought of previously. And not only does Dr. Fuhrman take the historical context of our country, he discusses the current socioeconomic disparities throughout the US; part of which is to blame for our current SAD (Standard American Diet). My nutrition program focuses on health disparities and working on solutions to these problems, so his aim resonated with me and what I hope to become as a future physician.

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Dr. Fuhrman also discusses food additives, preservatives, saturated fat, ketogenic (or high-protein, low carb) diets, epigenetics and genomics, eating intact grains and how to cook them, and some of the psychological effects of food. He does a great job decoding some of the daunting terms and explains them in a way that the non-scientist can understand. Each time I read a book written by either a physician or a nutrition professional regarding nutrition, I am inspired and enriched by their knowledge and passion to change the food industry, and help other live healthier and more purposeful lives.

***

The best part about this book is that I found it at a closing bookstore (sad, yes), and it was 75% off !!!!!! I do not remember how much I paid for it, but if you desire to read this one, which I strongly recommend, you can find it on Amazon for about $16. 🙂 Click here for Dr. Fuhrman’s website, and find him on Instagram. ALSO, Dr. Fuhrman has written several books that have caught my eye… Don’t be too surprised if you catch me reading those too. 😀

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ANNNNND… my personal favorite image from the book. 😛

As always, happy reading!

xx,

M