Thriving as a Teacher: The Power of Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Anne Till, MNutr, RDN, LDN
As a teacher, you have the power to change the lives of young people and shape the future. But with demanding schedules, overflowing workloads, and the pressure to create a positive learning environment for your students, it can be easy to forget about taking care of yourself. The good news is that by making healthy lifestyle behaviors a priority, such as nourishing your body with a healthy diet, moving your body with exercise, getting the restful sleep you need, and managing stress, you can not only thrive in your teaching career but also improve your overall quality of life.
Healthy Eating: Fueling Your Body for Success
What you eat has a big impact on how you feel both physically and mentally. To keep your energy levels up and avoid mid-afternoon crashes, it’s crucial to include a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats in your diet. Starting your day with a wholesome breakfast, such as whole grain toast with eggs or oatmeal, will give you a solid foundation for the day ahead. Bring a healthy lunch, like a salad with lean protein or a veggie wrap with hummus, to keep your energy levels steady throughout the day (see more ideas below). And when it’s time for a snack, reach for fruit, vegetables, or nuts instead of sugary or fatty treats.
Staying hydrated is also key to maintaining your focus and energy. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day and limit sugary drinks that can dehydrate you and leave you feeling sluggish.
The Power of Exercise: Moving Your Body, Moving Your Mood
Regular exercise is essential for both physical and mental well-being. Exercise can help reduce stress, boost your mood, and increase your energy levels. As a teacher, it can be tough to carve out time for exercise, but even just a little bit can make a huge difference. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming, but it should be a regular part of your routine.
Here is a list of ways for teachers to build exercise into their daily routine:
- Incorporate movement into the classroom: Use active learning strategies, such as standing up to answer questions or doing jumping jacks during break time.
- Take a walking break: Take a short break during your lunch period to go for a walk around the school grounds.
- Use your planning time wisely: Use your planning time to do some light stretching or yoga exercises to relieve stress and improve focus.
- Participate in school-wide physical activities: Join in on school-wide events, such as fitness challenges, sports days, or dance competitions.
- Use the stairs: Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator to get in some extra physical activity throughout the day.
- Make use of outdoor spaces: If your school has outdoor spaces, such as a field or playground, use them for a quick workout during breaks or lunchtime.
- Encourage physical activity in your students: Lead by example and encourage your students to be physically active, either by incorporating physical activities into your lessons or by setting up a fitness club or sports team.
The Importance of Sleep: Recharging Your Batteries
Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, irritability, and decreased focus, making it challenging to be the best teacher you can be. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night and establish a regular sleep routine to help you relax and fall asleep more easily. To ensure a good night’s rest avoid screens like phones, computers, and televisions before bedtime as the blue light can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Managing Stress: Finding Your Calm
Stress is a natural part of life, but it can take a toll on your physical and mental health. As a teacher, it’s important to find healthy ways to manage stress. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness practices can help you relax and calm your mind. Exercise and physical activity can also relieve stress by releasing endorphins and boosting your mood. Spending time with friends and family or doing activities you love can also help reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
A dietitian can help a teacher develop a personalized program to support their health goals in several ways, including:
- Assessment of current diet and physical activity levels: A dietitian can assess the teacher’s current eating habits and physical activity levels to identify areas for improvement.
- Development of a personalized nutrition plan: Based on the assessment, the dietitian can develop a personalized nutrition plan that meets the teacher’s individual needs and supports their health goals. The plan may include recommendations for daily calorie intake, macronutrient balance, and specific nutrient needs.
- Recommendations for physical activity: A dietitian can provide guidance on how to increase physical activity levels, including tips on how to build exercise into a busy schedule and suggestions for types of physical activity that may be enjoyable and effective.
- Strategies for managing stress: A dietitian can provide guidance on stress management techniques and recommend healthy ways to cope with stress, such as mindfulness practices and physical activity.
- Support for making changes: A dietitian can provide support and encouragement to help the teacher make changes to their diet and physical activity levels, and monitor progress towards their health goals.
- Ongoing follow-up: A dietitian can provide ongoing follow-up appointments and make adjustments to the teacher’s personalized program as needed to support their health goals over the long term.
Nutrition services are usually covered in most cases at 100% by your health insurance. Call our office or submit an online inquiry to find out more about the benefits available to you.
In conclusion, making healthy lifestyle behaviors a priority is the key to success as a teacher. By nourishing your body with a healthy diet, moving your body with exercise, getting the restful sleep you need, and managing stress, you can maintain your energy levels, improve your mood, and be the best teacher you can be. So, don’t wait, start prioritizing your health and well-being today and enjoy the many benefits that come with it.
Yours in health and wellness,
Anne Till, MNutr, RDN, LDN
Illustrations by Ashley Henley
Contact us to schedule an appointment today! We offer both in-office and virtual visits. As a teacher with the BCBS NC State Health Plan, you will have coverage at 100% with no patient responsibility or visit limit for both in-office and Telehealth visits.
Call Us Today: 919-990-1130