Healthy Eating Ideas for Busy Teachers
Your days are jammed packed and you are required to make 1,232,231 decisions (not to mention you deal with the fact that your name is called over and over again all.day.long). It is so easy to fall into the trap of grabbing junk from the teacher’s lounge or picking up fast food on your way home from work because you are just too tired to think about what to make for dinner.
Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to start taking your food choices seriously so you can have the energy and focus you need to keep up with the demands of teaching? I have put together some of my favorite practical and delicious healthy eating ideas that are designed to fit into your busy life.
I can’t state the importance of this one enough. You absolutely must have a plan. I don’t love meal planning but I know it is the only way I will eat healthy so I force myself to do it every week. One of the most effective strategies for maintaining a healthy diet as a busy teacher is planning your meals in advance. Dedicate some time over the weekend to prepare meals and snacks for the upcoming week. Consider batch cooking and freezing portions to save time during the week. Having pre-prepared options can help you resist the temptation of unhealthy choices when you're short on time.
Pack a Balanced Lunch
You barely have time to use the bathroom during your lunch break let alone go somewhere to grab lunch. Make sure you come prepared so you are not relying on cafeteria food or fast food options.
Some easy-to-pack options include:
- Salad Jars: Layer your favorite veggies, proteins, and dressing in a jar for a convenient, healthy meal.
- Grain Bowls: Prepare a batch of quinoa, brown rice, or couscous and add various toppings like grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, and a flavorful sauce.
- Wrap It Up: Make whole-grain wraps with lean meats, plenty of veggies, and hummus or Greek yogurt as a spread.
As a teacher, you may not always have time for a full meal. Be sure to keep healthy snacks on hand to curb your hunger and maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Opt for snacks like:
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are nutrient-rich and provide you with the energy you need to make it through your busy day.
- Greek Yogurt: High in protein and calcium, it's an excellent choice to keep you full. I like to top mine with blueberries and grain free granola.
- Fruit: Apples, bananas, and berries are easy to carry and provide natural sweetness and fiber.
Don't forget to drink enough water throughout the day. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and make your brain feel fuzzy. It is also much harder to make smart food choices if you have not had enough water throughout the day. I make little goals throughout the day- drink one full water bottle in the morning before I get to school, one more before lunch, one more after lunch, and one between after school and bedtime. Yes, I go to the bathroom all the time 🙂
When you do have a moment to eat, practice mindful eating. This means savoring each bite, paying attention to flavors and textures, and eating without distractions. This simple practice can help you appreciate your food more and prevent overeating. I always get the most pushback from teachers about this one - “Katie, I am too busy just eat lunch. I have to eat it at my desk while I am responding to parent emails”. I promise you, you can take 15 minutes to eat your lunch. The emails will be there waiting for you.
Healthy eating can easily feel like one more thing to add to your plate but it will make such a difference in your mood and energy level. I truly believe you can’t afford not to.
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