Healthy Eating-YES you can!

Since starting Nursing I feel I have been unintentionally gaining unwanted weight and with each academic year I promise myself this year will be different. And we all know how New Year resolutions turns out (sad, but true). I use to be great at meal prepping and avoiding junk food. After my night shifts and the ridiculous long hours I started to feel tired, stressed and would skip meals or ate whatever was easiest at the time (most of the time it was junk food *sigh*). I stopped cooking (which I love to do), I did not stick to my usual routine of eating (big breakfast, medium lunch and smaller dinner), instead I would skip all meals and eat one large meal when I got home at 9PM (yes, very unhealthy eating at that time) and that meal could sometimes be just toast (once i ate 8 pieces of toast within a 24 hour period *ashamed*). Then in the morning I would be so HANGRY (hungry & angry) because I want to eat but don’t have time to eat. At times I would come home from a long day, knowing I have a 04:30am start the next day I would make a decision: to eat, to shower, to sleep? and most of the time it was to sleep.

But this September I decided enough was enough and did something about it. These are my five tips to eating healthy/better and working a 12 hour shift (night shifts are the worst for eating properly- its so easy to eat nonsense, especially when staff bring in quick food to munch on).

#1 MAKE LUNCH: During first year I use to cook lovely delicious healthy meals and bring in nutritious snacks and occasionally a cheeky chocolate bar. I bought a new lunch box, wrote out a meal plan for the week and stuck to it. (most of my time is spent thinking about what to eat). Plus I get to use my half hour (if that) to actually sit and eat properly rather then going to a shop to get a sandwich (that I do not want) and eat quickly in ten minutes.

#2 ALWAYS MAKE LUNCH THE NIGHT BEFORE: you will never wake up early (earlier rather) to make your lunch. I have lied to my self more than I can count, I’d rather sleep then eat (as we have already established :-p). You are always to tired before work to cook anyway. I suppose for night shifts it is a little easier.

#3 DRINK WATER: I keep a 1 litre of water with me all the time. I am continuously drinking. This not only keeps you hydrated but also stops you from snacking on biscuits/chocolates.  To be honest, water is my answer to everything! It reduces my headaches, my cravings and keeps me focused. Not to mention how great water is for your skin. It keeps you less stressed through the day as you are hydrated and makes you feel full (so you don’t get HANGRY).

#4  NEVER SKIP MEALS: As I have mentioned I have a huge tendency to do that. It is easy to skip meals when you are in a busy working environment. Make time to eat, you owe that to yourself. If you can not got for a lunch break, keep fruits, granola bars with you and munch on them as you write your nursing notes. If you skip meals, you go home hungry and feel you can eat your whole fridge.

#5 AVOID JUNK: Easier said than done, I know. But if you remove junk from your household and do not buy them when you are out then you will avoid the excess sugar and fat. I’ve started to buy lots of fresh fruit and veg, from continuously eating such food you can change your cravings and habits. I really believe that the more your eat healthy the more your body wants healthy food. Once I was addicted to carrots and hummus, I would keep a bag of carrot sticks and a pot of hummus with me all the time because I craved it.

Bottom line. You can eat healthy whilst being a nurse. Bring healthy snacks with you to munch throughout the day. Try to have your lunch halfway through your shift (I know that can be difficult). When patients give the staff chocolates to say thank you, be careful with your hand because it will have a mind of its own and you will end up eating one to many! I truly believe that a healthy nurse is an efficient nurse, it will allow you to be always on your ‘A game’ and you will feel great!

Please share any tips you have to eating better on a 12 hour shift.



DILP Week 5 – Teaching and Learning in Maternity ft Muetzel

Well the outrageous fact that next week is my FINAL WEEK is madness. Right now I’m sitting pretty at 208 hours (40 to go) but it almost feels like a dream: I’m so full of questions about the culture and the way of working out here so I feel like I’m always engaged in some sort of discussion, which makes each day really rush by.


Shout out to my amazing Nursing Therapeutics Seminar Lead – you know who you are!!!

After one such discussion with the ward Matron, she said she felt the staff could improve their communication and social skills with patients, creating more of a rapport (this took a while to figure out as she speaks rather broken English). So I briefly explained Muetzel’s model of the therapeutic relationship, which is based around Partnership, Intimacy and Reciprocity. She was so interested I ended up making a couple of posters and giving talks to staff members in little groups over the course of the week. It was a really rewarding experience for me to see these Nurses taking on this academic knowledge and applying it, almost immediately, to practice.

It was also wonderful for me to realize how much I’ve learnt during these last 2 years at UoM. Lots of what I was teaching hasn’t come up in exams and I haven’t been fastidiously revising it, but it was still there in my brain, informing how I interact with patients and being able to pass this on was such a great feeling.

All my questions though did make for a slightly awkward discussion with a consultant this week when I asked why it was the normal procedure in Sri Lanka to give Episiotomies, no matter the size of the baby: “Because Sri Lankan women are far more petite than Western women” Fair enough, I thought (the average height of a Sri Lankan woman is 4ft11) but that wasn’t what he was getting at… Gesturing with his surgical scissors he added; “For example this woman’s vagina is far smaller than yours would be”. THANKS DOCTOR. I almost died of embarrassment.

My questions haven’t all had such uncomfortable endings though. For instance I’ve become fascinated by the many superstitions and traditions deeply woven into everyday Sri Lankan life. One very common belief is that the exact time of a person’s birth is holds great importance over the course of their life.


Its a bit of a cross between buddhism with a big emphasis on horoscopes, couples are often matched based on Birthdays

It is always noted to the minute and this information is taken to a spiritualist (Tamil or Buddhist astronomer) who produces a big document/graph thing that contains key dates to be wary of and dates of good fortune. These can be days or years. During the times of misfortune the family can offset this bad energy by giving alms, doing charitable work or attending the temple more regularly. Equally there is some level or risk management that is involved. For example if someone is predicted a bad 2016 because they were born at 4.33 instead of 4.34 then even if it made sense with every other facet of their life, big dates such as having a baby or getting married would be delayed until they were back in good favors.

I personally would not respond well to such strict time frames but I was far too curious to know what my prophecies would be. So, luckily, I was able to take a short 20-minute stroll from my apartment to the hospital where I was born, 20 years, 6 months and 5 days ago. After a quick 5 minute trip to the records room a nurse produced a huge leather-bound book, identical to the one I have been writing baby’s birth records in for the last two weeks. Except in this one, “Baby Girl Wragg” made an appearance! Thanks to this hand-written entry I am now armed with my birth time and am setting a meeting to speak to a tamil astrologer to find out how things are going for me! Hopefully 2017 with my dissertation looming, will be a very very lucky year for me or else I’ll just have to find a Buddhist temple somewhere near Stretford.


Baby Girl Wragg OG Sri Lankan

DILP Week 4 – Switching Hats in Maternity!!

Well what a difference a day makes! Because I had my “weekend” on Thu/Fri last week and worked Sat/Sun in A&E, it was very strange waking up the next morning and starting as the new girl again in Maternity. Quite the change!


All I new for sure was that I’d get to hold some babies – I was HYPED

I didn’t expect it to be drastically different actually. In my mind, rushing into either A&E or Maternity would involve a certain amount of stress, drama and concern. In fact, during the 40 hours I’ve been diligently posted in Maternity, only 3 natural vaginal deliveries have taken place. So my expectation of blood, guts and placenta flying all over the show twinned with concerned Fathers pacing around and screaming Mothers rushing into the ward, hasn’t come to fruition.

Mary Cooke, a Lecturer from our University explained to me this week that during her time in Sri Lanka she learnt about the 4 arms of Sri Lankan healthcare. These 4 arms are divided into:

  • “Western” Publicly available care
  • “Western” Private care (Me)
  • Ayurvedic Medicine
  • Rural Folk Medicine


Public care, or the Sri Lankan version of the NHS is extremely thinly stretched across the country. My friends in Anurhadapura have been working (with Work the World) at one such hospital that has open-air wards of 60 beds which has one bar of soap for the entire ward. These institutions do an amazing job with what they’re given and treat a huge number of patients who otherwise would have to rely on traditional Sri Lankan remedies.


Dhanvantari, God of Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Medicine has a history of over 3,000 years in Sri Lanka and is based around the balancing of 8 components to bring about physical and mental wellness. Treatments range depending on the ailment but can vary from “surgical” intervention to use of chiropractic massage.

Folk medicine is becoming increasingly rare as the country develops but involves treating ailments such as snake or insect bites, infections and such like using herbal and natural remedies.

Private Healthcare in Sri Lanka is the closest to hospitals in the UK you can get here. Therefor patients I see have a source of income that allows them to be there but again there are levels within this. For example the Presidential Suite on the top floor of my hospital costs around £350 per night and has wifi, cable TV, a kitchen and en suite guest room. Or for around £30 a night you can stay in a non air-conditioned room and still see the same consultants, doctors, physios etc.

For whatever reason, which I haven’t quite got to the bottom of yet, C-sections are overwhelmingly popular. I could not count the number of caesarians that have happened during this week compared to the lowly 3 vaginal births. I think it is considered to be less risky and carries fewer consequences than vaginal delivery and equally also demonstrates a level of wealth.


CTG scan – this can show us if Baby is getting distressed during contractions or has a depressed HR

The first vaginal delivery I witnessed was in the first hours of my second day in our CTG room (Cardiac Tocograph – a scanner that is used to track the babies heart rate and the Mother’s contractions simultaneously). Usually Mothers wait for 20 minutes for the CTG to be taken then move into a normal room but in this instance there was no time to be wasted in moving this Lady. She delivered a beautiful baby girl at 34 weeks (full term being 40 weeks), and I was privileged enough to hold her hand and support her throughout the difficult delivery. Because of the hastiness of the whole procedure, when it became apparent she required an episiotomy the consultant Obstetrician only had a few moments to quickly inject some lidocaine before, seconds later, taking some sterile scissors to her perineum. I have never been so in awe of the strength and power of the female body.


Ouch – I’ve got no other words for it… at least none that I can write on this public platform

With, and I’m not exaggerating here, nothing more than a few high pitched gasps and squeals, even during her midline episiotomy, her glorious tiny little baby was delivered and I am very pleased to say, the little lady is still doing very well.

I’ve been trying to learn on my feet as much as I can about the processes of pregnancy and childbirth but I very much see why our Midwifery colleagues are always so hard at work. Things can change in an instant during labour and the differences between each case makes each birth spectacularly valuable to my rough and ready education in this area.

I could write all day about the differences I’ve seen in Maternity but I’ve got to save some juicy tit-bits for next week so I’ll finish up here.


I have an entire hospital full of people who are so helpful and open to answering any questions I have about healthcare, life and culture in Sri Lanka so please do drop us a comment on our Facebook page or email us at: