FOOD

Meal Prep + More: How a Pediatric Oncology Nurse in Los Angeles Prioritizes Healthy Living

July 3rd, 2020

Welcome to What I Eat in a Day, a blog series that showcases the daily lives and meals of Thrive Market members like you. Today we’re talking with Kasey Ring, a pediatric oncology nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Hi, Kasey! Tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your job title and what are your main responsibilities in that role?

I am a pediatric oncology nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. In the beginning of the pandemic, we had a hyper awareness of each upper respiratory symptom that walked into the E.R. or lobby of the hospital. As we gained knowledge of the virus, we also gained a sense of a new normal in our day to day: walk into the employee entrance, get screened, grab a mask and our new colored wrist band for the day (saying we were cleared), and head to our respective units.

What do you love most about your job?

Yes, my kiddos are sick. Yes, they have cancer. Yes, it is absolutely devastating and some days, heartbreaking for me. However, there is something truly unique about building a bond with children who are sick. It flourishes into such a beautiful and meaningful relationship when I have won over their trust—allowing me to read their emotions when caring for them as a pure and naive child, not just a disease. They exude compassion and vivacity, even while receiving chemo and their fight is inspiring. They have given me a different perspective on life and influenced me in ways that are difficult to put into words. And that is what I love the most about my job.

How has your work life changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Since the current research states that children are not as susceptible to the disease as others, our unit’s workflow has maintained a “work as usual” mentality. We cannot have as many visitors as prior and isolation room protocol has been modified, but the treatments for the chronically ill patients remain unchanged.

For my 12-hour shifts, I am still providing the same care with the same medications to the same patients as prior to the pandemic. In that sense, I find myself very fortunate. I am still at a higher risk of being exposed to COVID-19 via other employees, patients, or family members, but my job does not entail the harsh reality that is the horror of the New York hospitals. For that, I continually count my blessings.

How has your life outside of work changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

While life inside the hospital has only changed somewhat, life in the real world is drastically different. Prior to the pandemic, I would work my three 12-hour shifts, then go to the gym with my husband after. Days off would be making a quick trip to the grocery store for some food items for the week and catching up with family and friends. Now, grocery store trips have to be strategically planned out and somehow fit into my few days off. Luckily, it is just my husband and I at home, and we don’t stick to any particular diet. We eat very healthy, but don’t have any dietary restrictions nor a restrictive diet that would have made shopping in this time a lot more difficult to abide by.

How have your meals throughout the day changed?

So what has changed for our daily meals? Our weekly grocery store trips have been greatly spread apart and our freezer now looks a lot fuller than before. We meal prep one day for the rest of the week and our meals include a lot more beans and rice than prior. I typically eat more of the fruits and vegetables so my husband can have more portions of the meat that we buy. I honestly feel better eating more plant-based on a day-to-day basis. Feeling better after eating a healthier meal also allows me to make it through my 12-hour shifts in one piece without feeling absolutely miserable or run down. Eating healthier also allows me to sustain my energy so that I can do my nightly workouts after long shifts.

Why is healthy living important to you?

Healthy living is important to me because it means my mind, body, and soul are healthy. It means that my body is functioning at top speed, capable of engaging in a majority of activities while simultaneously actually enjoying them. It also means that, when my husband and I are ready to start a family, we are capable of doing so. And we will be around long enough to see our children grow into amazing humans as well.

This is the mentality I am choosing to keep in these tough times. Even now, when it truly is challenging, I am choosing to see healthy living as a lifestyle for life. Instead of making a quick trip through the drive through right up the road, I am waiting in the grocery store lines to then go home and meal prep into meals for the week. Taking the time to do each of those steps ensures the health of my family. I truly am enjoying taking the extra time making different, new, and exciting meals. During this pandemic, cooking a new dinner or baking a new type of dessert has brought me a lot more joy to my life. And this is something I will choose to hold on to and bring into post-pandemic life.

Which moments of your day bring you the most joy?

Companies like Thrive Market help to ensure I can hold onto this sense of joy. Offering food delivery services allows for me to obtain those rare ingredients that would take too long to hunt down for in our currently crazy world. This way, after a long day at work, I know I will already have waiting for me that baking flour I need for my next muffin recipe or the saffron needed for a new dinner recipe. Being a member of Thrive Market for the past year has made me realize I will continue to be a member for as long as I can. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Take us through what you eat on a typical day.

Today is my day off, so things look a bit different. I typically have a dedicated meal-prep day to ensure that I have enough snacks and food to get through my work days. Days off also mean sleeping in a tad more than a 7 a.m. work start. Today, I woke up at 8 a.m. I sat in bed and scrolled Instagram for a bit. Then, headed to the kitchen to have my cashew milk latte. Then I did some chores around the house while finishing my latte and finally made breakfast around 11 a.m. Breakfast consisted of toasted rosemary sourdough bread topped with ricotta cheese, spinach, and two scrambled eggs with lemon pepper. Perfect combination of savory and sweet.

Days off are also when I love experimenting with new baking recipes. Today I made flourless peanut butter banana muffins. What’s the new saying? “It wouldn’t be a pandemic without making banana bread?”

Afternoon consisted of a home workout. Today was leg and ab day. I’ve got to say, it takes a lot more motivation to do daily home workouts than I ever imagined. After working up a sweat, I meal prepped the night away. And enjoyed every minute of it. This week includes chipotle black beans, cilantro lime brown rice, a-little-more-burnt-than-caramelized onions (whoops), roasted white sweet potatoes, roasted bell peppers, taco seasoned ground turkey, and salmon stuffed with a delicious ricotta-spinach-garlic mixture. Excited to bring it all throughout the week (while, of course, sharing with the husband). Now, off to get ready for bed so I am mentally and physically prepared for my shift tomorrow.

For sharing her experience, we’re gifting Kasey Thrive Cash to shop healthy essentials at ThriveMarket.com. Interested in sharing your story? We’d love to hear from you! Please email blog@thrivemarket.com with your name and occupation.

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Lily CombaLily Comba has never met a baked good she didn't like. When she's not baking, you'll find her writing, taking a Pilates class, or collaborating with the editorial and social team as a Senior Content Writer at Thrive Market.

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