Nutrition Intervention

I’ve always prided myself on my approach to nutrition. The daughter of a Registered Dietitian, food planning and preparation have always been relatively easy for me and I legitimately¬†prefer real, nutritious food to junk food. That’s not to say that I don’t like treats but if I have a donut for breakfast, I’m still looking for a berry smoothie to feel done with the meal.

When I traveled to Asheville a couple of weeks ago, I had a few hours on the plane to think in peace and was reflecting on many things, one of them being my nutrition. I have been in and out of my home (and my kitchen) since March of 2015 when I was in Maine for Family Medicine and since March of 2016, I’ve lived in Norwalk, Chicago and Asheville. Needless to say, any semblance of routine has been hugely disrupted. Add in all my recent travel and long coaching days fueled by…adrenaline? and I found myself feeling severely undernourished. Sure, I was eating food and getting through the day but couldn’t recall the last time I had a salad or planned a whole day of nutritious food. Diet Coke had crept back into my life after a few years and I found myself eating more candy and sweets than usual. Interview meals are a whole other issue; you eat what the program provides and quickly, since someone is almost guaranteed to ask you another question before you can swallow.

Travel makes it hard but I’ve spent the last two weeks working hard on planning and preparing so that I have access to as much nutritious food as I can. I’m back to roasting root veggies on Sunday for salads and packing a cooler of food for when I’m on the road. I hand mixed a new trail mix that has enough fat, protein and carb to power me through even the longest interview meet and greet. I throw a couple of Light Muscle Milk cartons in every bag so I always have an easy, portable option for protein to tide me over. I’m aggressively paying attention to my caffeine to water ratio and bringing tubes of Nuun with me everywhere to combat hotel room air. (Why ARE hotel rooms so dry?!) I even had the opportunity to pair up with Honey Stinger for 2017 (more on this later), so I now have a great supply of Stinger Waffles for pre-run or even survival in my carry-on.

In some ways, it would be easier to just take a grab and go approach. After all, my time is limited and trying to make it to 20+ cities on time, in a suit and looking vaguely professional is enough of a challenge without trying to do food prep. But after two weeks of being much more intentional about my fuel, I’m feeling so much better. I’m not waking up starving or crashing during runs, I don’t drag through the day and I generally feel better. If I’m going to be short on time, I’d rather feel good for the time I do have.

What are your tricks for eating healthy when your schedule is tight? Any favorite meals to prep on Sunday or great grab and go snacks? How do you keep a routine when you travel?

2 thoughts on “Nutrition Intervention

  1. Ryan

    How do residency interviews work? Based on your post it sounds quite different than the standard sit in a room with a few people and answer questions interview.
    For Christmas a couple of years ago my mother got me a travel humidifier which makes hotel stays much more tolerable. It is about the size of a standard coffee mug and you attach a regular 16 ounce plastic water bottle to it. Depending on how high you set it, you get about 4-5 hours of run time from a bottle. It definitely helps you not feel so dried out in the morning.

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    1. Runner Under Pressure Post author

      There are essentially two parts. The first is a social, typically the night before. You meet the residents and faculty and try to get a sense of the culture of the program. This part is not an “official” interview but it can certainly affect your ranking if you stand out in either direction. On interview day, we typically gather for Grand Rounds or M&M (Morbidity and Mortality) then sit for an overview of the program with the Program Director (our boss/parental figure/mentor for our 5 years of residency). Finally, the interviews start and are generally 3 to 4 15-minute interviews with faculty where we try to concisely articulate our interest in surgery and career goals. The ultimate goal is for both programs and applicants to come up with a rank list which will ultimately be entered into the matching software in February.

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