In honor of eating more vegetables for Day 4 of the Whole Teacher Health & Wellness Challenge, let’s talk about healthy eating for teachers. It’s not easy to eat a balanced meal when you are running around trying to get your next class ready, and you have a stack of papers that need graded AND it’s your only lunch/prep period of the day. Often you reach for easy pre-packaged foods or snacks to keep you going. Problem is that a lot of those things are filled with sugar that leave you feeling sluggish a few hours later. So how do you find the time to eat healthy in the chaotic day that is known as teacher life?
Well, it’s not always easy, but the teachers who stick to healthy eating are the ones who know it really matters and plan for it. You have to make a conscious choice to say to yourself that your body matters and it needs to be fueled by the right stuff or all the tricks and tips in the world won’t stick. Make yourself a priorit and here are a few ideas to help you in your journey to eating healthy as a busy teacher!
Eating For Busy Teachers
- Eat a healthy, filling breakfast. I never ate breakfast before I became a teacher, but I quickly learned that I had to or by lunch I’d be running on fumes. Think of breakfast as setting the tone for your day. I like to have two eggs with some berries and toast, overnight oats (there are tons of recipes on Pinterest), or a green smoothie in the morning. It keeps me full longer and I don’t feel the sugar rush and crash that granola bars or breakfast bars often cause.
- Skip the staff lounge snacks. The staff lounge is a place of temptation for any busy teacher. There always seems to be some pastry or snack that looks so delicious and easy to grab and go. Don’t do it! Thank whoever brought in food, but skip it.
- Bring your own snacks. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want a snack whenever you have a chance to shove food into your mouth during the busy day. Instead of grabbing the previously mentioned staff lounge snack, bring your own healthy snacks. Yogurt, veggies with hummus, rice cake with peanut butter (or any nut butter), or some nuts are some great options.
- Don’t work while you eat. You may be tempted to multi-task, but don’t. Take the time to just enjoy your breakfast or lunch. When you work while eating, you won’t notice when you’re actually full and might overeat. Also, you need a break to just relax during the day, so use this time as a good mental break.
- Plan your lunches and pack the night before. If you’re one of those super prepared people, then plan your lunch on Sunday. But if you’re like most of us, preparing your lunch the night before is a big enough of a win. Taking lunch will save you from grabbing something not so healthy out of desperation. I like to do it right after dinner when I’m already in the kitchen. In the morning it’s so much easier to grab and go than having to pack.
- Cook enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch. This goes hand in hand with planning your lunch the night before. If you cook extras, take them in the next day. As you clean up the kitchen, put your leftovers straight into containers and in your lunchbox.
- Eat your veggies. I say this a lot, but vegetables are so important. If you include them in every meal, you’ll feel better. I promise! Try a green smoothie in the morning and throw in spinach and kale with you berry smoothie to make it green, or a veggie omelette. Try cauliflower rice with your stir fry to get some extra veggies in your diet or try roasting vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic as a side as well (I love broccoli, asparagus, and brussel sprouts this way.)
- Change how you think about food. As a society we think of food as something we earn through working out or working hard. Often people say, “I earned this cookie,” or something similar to justify their eating. Using food as reward isn’t going to help you eat healthier because as a teacher you probably deserve a million cookies for all the great stuff you do daily. It’s okay to have that cookie, but stop telling yourself you earned it. Look at it as a treat and enjoy it instead of justifying it.
* Remember, everyone is different so always make sure to eat according to your body and your doctor!