Changing how the world thinks about nursing

Join our Facebook group Twitter bird search box

One plan for achieving a healthy weight

Our executive director puts forth her plan for achieving a healthy weight.


I put forward my plan because in our struggle to help nurses achieve an image as health experts I think it's important for nurses to achieve a healthy weight. I've struggled with weight over the years. I used to feel like food was controlling me. But once I had some success in losing weight for the first time, I felt so empowered and finally, my weight was in my control. Usually for me it's a matter of working to get rid of 5 - 20 pounds. But no matter if you're struggling to lose 3 or 300 pounds, the process is identical, it's just a matter of time.

It takes a change in the way we think about food to attain a healthy weight and keep it there. it's important to plan to eat healthy foods instead of waiting until the last minute and grabbing something on impulse. Using math will help inject logic and science into an equation that often seems to be beyond control. We burn about 2000 calories per day. So if we want to lose weight, we have to eat fewer calories than that.

We can control our weight. The first thing is to believe you can do it, to try and stick with it. Not as a diet. But as a new way of learning how to eat healthy. If we drop off the healthy eating plan for a day or two, no need to worry, we can just get back up and plan to eat healthy from this day forward. We can only control the future. When we have a goal that we are now going to eat healthy every day, then we have an attainable plan and a way to achieve a healthy weight. Nurses can look like the health experts that they are.

Here's a quick plan that works for me. Some people think it's kooky. But it's healthy and it works for me. Feel free to try it or adapt it to your own tastes and lifestyle.


I try to exercise to a huff and a puff for at least 90 minutes per week. It doesn't matter if these are 1-minute or 45-minute increments, as long as the total is at least 90 minutes of huffing and puffing per week.


  • Breakfast: small (8-10 oz) bowl of fruit with soy yogurt on top and a 1/2 cup cereal.

  • Lunch: Big vegetable salad with ½ package tofu, tempeh or other legumes.
    Dressing: 4 teaspoons flax seed oil (it's full of Omega-3s), 3 teaspoons vinegar and 4 teaspoons tamari and 1 teaspoon sesame oil.

  • Dinner: One plate of steamed or sautéed (not fried) food: 1/3 of it legumes or tofu; 1/3 vegetables, 1/3 grain. Cuisines that easily lend themselves to this are Ethiopian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, Indian and other South and South-East Asian cuisines, Mexican and Central American cuisines. I cook with canola or olive oil. They have the best fats.

  • Drinks: I drink 3-4 liters of throughout the day, a couple soy milk lattes and 1/2 glass red wine with dinner. I don't drink sugar drinks or artificially sweetened drinks. I used to drink very little water. I got headaches on a daily basis because I was dehydrated. And I couldn't tell the difference between thirst and hunger. I'd crave salty snacks just because they would make my mouth water, giving me the illusion that I was quenching thirst. Now when I have some undetermined thirst/hunger sensation, I drink a glass or two of water so I can figure out if I'm really hungry or not. Usually, I'm not.

Why it's healthy to limit or avoid animal products

Steering clear of animal products will help nurses live longer--since their arteries will be free of new daily infusions of cholesterol and most saturated fats. We need nurses to live longer to help us resolve the nursing crisis! Avoiding animal products also helps to save the environment by reducing about one-fifth of the world's greenhouse gasses (See this UN article on it.) Nurses who work for a healthier environment also improve nurses' image as health experts since environment is linked to health, as Florence Nightingale showed.

Vitamins and Supplements

Since I don't eat animal products, I look for other ways to get my vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. I try to get what I need by the food choices I make, but I also take supplements just to make sure. Here's what I take:

Multivitamins (Kids tiny multivitamins (for swallowing))
Vitamin D
Vitamin B12
DHA brands 1, 2 and 3
Carnitine Iron
CoQ-10 300 mg.
Probiotics 1, 2, 3 (Kids probiotic)

(We are in no way affiliated with the companies to which we link on this page.)

I avoid grains until dinner time to keep down cravings and the post-lunch sleepiness they can cause me. If I start eating too many grains like cereals and breads, my consumption of them seems to gradually increase until it cascades out of control.

I avoid anything deep fried, because this allows food to soak up a lot of oil and oil is high in calories. Though I can't pass up an occasional falafel sandwich.

Stomach fullness

I try to either eat slowly or wait 20 minutes before deciding whether I truly need to eat more food at a given meal. It takes 20 minutes to get the sensation of being satisfied. So if I'm in a place where I want to lose some weight, I start off eating two-thirds of my normal amount and wait 20 minutes to see if I really need to eat more.

In my own battles with eating healthy, it's my theory that the state of stomach fullness correlates with my ability to attain a healthy weight. When I'm of a healthy weight, I let my stomach get empty before I eat. When I'm overweight, I tend to be stuffed, or at least full at all times. If I stay stuffed all the time, I tend to look stuffed.

  Stomach sizes Before a meal After a meal
  State of healthy weight
  State of being overweight  


From my own experience, I tend to think that when I am overeating, I eat before I truly get hungry. If I wait to eat until I've been hungry for hours, then it's more likely I actually need the food I eat.

When our ancestors had to go gathering our food, we needed to have the hunger sensation a couple hours before we actually needed the food for stimulation to go looking for it. But now food is so readily available and takes only seconds to locate. We don't need that lead time on our hunger, but we have it. So we have to deal with it in some way. Tolerating a couple hours of hunger before meal can actually be a rewarding sensation. I can be thankful I don't have to gather my food (beyond trips to the grocery store), or sometimes I use it as a time to reflect on the hunger millions face all over the world every day and I'm thankful I only have to endure hunger a couple hours instead of a lifetime. Enduring a few hours of hunger means I've limited my food intake to what I really need and in time, I can achieve a healthy weight. And when I eat in a healthier way, there is food left over for others. In this time of global food shortages, I want to be responsible and eat only my share.

Since vegan food is the only type of healthy food, we include some vegan recipes for you here.

If I can do this, I know that you can do this. I have confidence in you! Nurses can achieve a healthy weight, be more comfortable, live easier lives and look like the health experts we are.

Author: Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
Last updated July 27, 2008

Please feel free to send any questions or comments to me at