Teachers are extremely busy, attending to students all day long and often staying late to finish tasks. It can be challenging to find the time and energy to prepare healthy meals, however, good nutrition is an essential part of being a successful teacher. Looking after yourself by preparing healthy and nourishing meals will ensure that your pupils get the time and attention from you they need to be successful in the classroom and that you have the energy to have a life outside the classroom!
With set breaks at morning tea and lunchtime already worked into each school day, it is just a matter of finding a little time to plan some healthy meals and making healthy choices.
Bring in your own supply of healthy food to have on hand for morning and afternoon tea. A hand full of dried fruit and raw nuts, a muesli bar (under 600kJ per bar), a pot of low-fat yoghurt and a piece of fresh fruit, whole-wheat crackers and hummus are all great options for a quick but nutritious snack. Avoid eating snacks full of fat or sugar (bags of crisps, biscuits and cake) which will give you a quick pick-me-up but will not sustain you for long.
The staffroom can present a challenge for some, especially those trying to lose weight. Indulgent treats are sometimes left in the staffroom for teachers and seeing others partake can have you throwing all your healthy eating efforts out the window. If the temptation is too much for you, stay in your classroom to eat your lunch, or go to another teacher’s room and eat lunch together. Or why not promote healthy eating among the other staff members, there is strength in numbers!! Suggest healthy treats be brought in as an alternative.
Some easy, healthy lunch ideas are:
Filled roll: Wholemeal roll, spread with hummus and lean ham or chicken. Have salad ingredients like lettuce, tomato, grated carrot and cucumber in a separate container and add them at lunch, that way you won’t end up with a soggy roll.
Rice salad: Bag of 90 second brown rice (can be cooked in microwave at school) or some left over rice and a small tin of tuna or salmon. Have some salad ingredients like cherry tomatoes, cucumber and grated carrot in a container. Mix it all together.
Wholemeal wrap: Wholemeal tortilla, spread with hummus, layered with lettuce, lean meat, avocado and cucumber.
Healthy pizza: Wholemeal pita bread toasted, spread with tomato paste and layered with lean meat, tomato, mushrooms, red onion and crumbled feta cheese. Cook the night before and reheat for lunch. (Choose any of your own toppings however, ensure meat is lean and don’t be too heavy handed with the cheese).
Hearty soup: Either make your own nutritious soup at home to reheat the next day or purchase a ‘soup for one’ at the supermarket. (Check the nutrition label for fat, sugar and sodium content to ensure you are making a healthy choice). Have a wholemeal pita for dunking.
Stuffed potato: The humble stuffed potato is a great winter warmer. If you have the oven on the night before, throw in an extra potato to bake. Once cooked and slightly cooled, scoop out the inside and mix with either some creamed corn, lean meat and a little Edam cheese and pepper or some beans, broccoli and cheese. (The combinations are endless). Place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Reheat at school.
For a well-balanced meal and to ensure you are getting your 5+ a day, follow all of the above with a piece of fruit.