You spend a lot of time taking care of your students, but you don’t have time to spend taking care of yourself. Sound familiar? With the new year, we want to encourage our family and teachers across the country to prioritise health – even if you have very little time! By introducing, or reinforcing, a few routine practices and a little planning ahead can help you give your body the food it needs, so you can fuel yourself through the school year.
Teachers are widely recognised as some of the busiest people in the world, and it is no secret that your hectic schedules can have a tendency to impact on diets.
The food we eat affects more than just our basic health, it also affects energy levels and our ability to be productive and creative. Instilling healthy eating habits will make you feel better for yourself and therefore better for your students.
Here are our top tips for looking after your body with a busy workload.
Eating a real breakfast
We know that teachers often get up before the birds do and work a long day, well into the evening. A lot of teachers don’t feel like they have the energy or time to prepare themselves a healthy breakfast in the morning, which can lead to a lot of convenience food or even skipping breakfast entirely.
Keeping simple healthy things in the fridge that you can grab and eat on the go is a must. Fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, and granola are quick and easy things to put together. Try making overnight porridge – this can be a quick task before bed and a ready-and-waiting breakfast for the morning. It’s filling and nutritious.
Keeping healthy snacks nearby
Sometimes, lunchtime can’t come too soon! Between lessons it can be a good idea to make sure you have access to some healthy snacks that you can pick at. This will help you keep those important nutrients flowing through your body and your mind sharp. We recommend fruit and nut bags, cereal bars, fruit smoothies, yoghurt or perhaps protein balls.
Enjoying a power lunch
Taking a packed lunch to work will save you time and money. It doesn’t need to be complicated. By throwing greens, healthy grains, and lean proteins together into a flavourful bowl, you only have one thing to microwave. You might even prefer to eat it cold. Salads, couscous or even a burrito bowl is easy, cheap, and healthy.
Cooking a nutritious dinner
If you have books to mark, papers to grade, and lessons plans to complete as soon as you get home, you probably don’t have the time and energy to prepare a big meal. Spend some time at the weekend putting together frozen pre-prepared meals, like these from BBC Good Food. Why not get yourself a slow cooker? Throw the desired ingredients in and turn the slow cooker on, and by dinner time everything will be ready for you.
Avoid drinking calories
Most of us rely on cups of tea and coffee throughout the day to keep our energy levels up. If these are prepared without sugar, they’re not entirely bad for you (discounting the caffeine intake!). You may have hit a problem however, if you’re prone to fizzy drinks and concentrated squash. Both pack a punch when it comes to sugars and calories. Keep a water bottle at your desk, and if you want to spruce it up you could even add a fruit infuser (you can pick these up from your local supermarket). You can refill it a few times for naturally flavoured water that won’t integrate a ton of unnecessary calories into your diet.
Eating a variety of foods
We know that routines are important to teachers and that it helps boost efficiency. One area in your life where some may not want to adhere to routines is with diet. Eating a wider variety of foods incorporates more nutrients into week.
If you’re trying to eat more protein, don’t limit yourself to just chicken (it could get very boring very quickly). Incorporate turkey and different kinds of fish, or vegetarian proteins such as Quorn, nuts and eggs. Swap out your traditional lettuce salad for a spinach based salad to improve your iron intake. After all, variety is the spice of life.
Allowing for the occasional indulgence
Being too strict on your diet might make you go a little crazy, or feel unhappy. If you want a piece of cheesecake or your favourite pizza occasionally, go for it and don’t hold back. You can use it to reward yourself for hitting those targets.
If you associate indulgent food with victories, it might even inspire you to make those deadlines quicker. A burger can be a great motivator if you haven’t had one in a while!