Nutrition for Educators and Other Busy Professionals
Colleagues and friends often ask me how I have so much energy every day, teaching five preps, co-sponsoring the school newspaper, all while maintaining my paper grading load and still finding time to hit the gym five times a week.
A teacher’s day begins very early, and is dictated hourly by the bell. With barely enough time for bathroom breaks between classes, maintaining a healthy energy takes a little bit of planning along with a few prep steps each week. The steps may take a few minutes but will save on energy and precious time later in the week.
1. Prep food. On Sunday, wash fruit, cut and steam veggies, bake some chicken breasts, hard boil eggs, make a batch of oatmeal, bake sweet potatoes . . . the idea is to fill your fridge with as much grab-and-go healthy food that you most certainly won’t feel like preparing after a tiring day at work, when faced with those papers still waiting to be graded.
2. Snack. It’s just as important to prep the snacks. I love to prepare my own homemade trail mix. It’s much healthier, with no added salt or preservatives. I fill five small, snack size containers with raw pumpkin or sesame seeds, raw walnuts, raw almonds, dried cranberries, dried mulberries . . . whatever nuts and dried fruit I have. Here’s a post of mine telling more about mulberries. By the way, raw/no salt or added sugar is best for your nuts and dried fruit If you’re used to the salt, you will get unused to it, trust me. Give it time and you won’t miss it – either will your heart! If you don’t feel creative with mixing your own, here’s a tried and true recipe, TLC’s trail mix.
3. Eat breakfast. Here’s where preparing a batch of oatmeal comes in handy. Grabbing a cup of coffee is not enough to sustain you for that early morning class or PLC meeting. Even grabbing a banana and hard-boiled egg is much better than nothing at all, and will get you your important macros (protein, carbs and fat).
4. Drink water. Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day. You’ll be a reminder to the students to drink more water. If you need your morning coffee, go for it – but that’s it. Too much caffeine will cause you to crash later. Check out my Reasons to Drink more water for more incentive!
5. Graze. Studies show it’s healthier to eat smaller meals throughout the day versus three big ones. Munch on some fruit or nuts that your brought in-between classes. Spread out meals so that you’re eating every few periods – don’t wait until your last free few moments of the day to gobble.
6. Avoid mindless munching. Bringing in birthday treats is a wonderful way to celebrate colleagues, and special occasions call for a little sweet cheat. If you’re eating healthfully on a regular basis, you deserve a treat, and allowing yourself to do so will avoid an overindulgence later on. Side note: Avoid food that’s been sitting out all day – it’s bound to be spoiled with bacteria. No one wants that! So step away from the table after, say, Period 6. 🙂
So there it is, six super ways to maintain a healthy diet within even the most busy of days during the school year. Stay tuned for more healthy recipes, workouts and lifestyle choices!!
A bonus, new recipe I just created – Protein Power Balls!
- 2 Tbsp organic hemp seeds
- 2 Tbsp organic chia seeds
- 1 cup raw gluten-free, slow-cooking oats (I like Bob’s Red Mills but be sure to soak them overnight)
- one mashed banana
- 1 Tbsp raw almond butter (I like Trader Joe’s)
Mix the above ingredients. Form into 1″ balls and refrigerate. Enjoy in a couple hours as a grab-and-go energy snack.
There are no excuses to live unhealthful these days. With the wealth of nutrition information at our fingertips, the abundance of gyms, and the crop of clean eating recipes, we can strive for our optimum health level more conveniently than ever before.
However convenient it may be, it is never easy. Achieving our optimum weight and body fat, gaining strength and endurance, and overcoming unhealthful habits such as sugar addictions or overeating takes discipline, discipline and more discipline.
I’m a firm believer we can ALL achieve the body we desire – we just (just? you say) have to work hard at it. Over 80% of that work will be in the kitchen and a mere 15 – 20% will be in the gym or basement or wherever it is we workout. Supplements provide assistance with this along the way. They provide important nutrients our bodies may not absorb as readily with food. It’s not cheating; I call it smart body management.
Over the past year, I’ve researched supplements more than I ever have before. Just a couple of weeks ago, I received the results from my physician on my blood work; with that, I also had my body fat measured. LifeTime Fitness offers some wonderfully informative health tests. I attribute a significant portion of this success to supplements. So . . . . I’d like to pay it forward today by sharing so that may work for you as well. As always, consult with your physician before initiating anything:
First, a quick run-down of how these supplements have helped me ~ my test results: (just to affirm the supplement results):
Body Fat: 14% (down from 17% )
Cholesterol: 133 (down from just under 200)
Triglycerides: 48 (anything less than 150 is considered good)
LHD: 54 (anything above 40 is considered good)
LDL: 69 (anything less than 100 is considered good)
On to what you really are here for ~ My Supplement Diet:
~ 1. Liquid Chlorophyll – one teaspoon diluted with 8 ounces of water
I am going to devote most of this blog to this because it is nothing less than miraculous!!! Along with the proof in my blood work, I’ve recommended this supplement to two dear friends already . . . both have come back thanking me profusely – saying they’ve never felt as refreshed and “regular” :-). One of my friend’s husbands took hours to research the supplement before purchasing it – he found absolutely no negatives!!
Chlorophyll is miraculous. What is it exactly? In basic terms, chlorophyll is what makes plants green. Through photosynthesis, plants convert the sun’s energy into chlorophyll and then release oxygen into the atmosphere. Just as blood is important for human life, chlorophyll is important for plant life. (my Biology teacher friends would be proud!)
The benefits of chlorophyll are numerous – Chlorophyll is a powerful anti-oxidant, cleanser, and detox with anti-inflammatory properties. It stimulates and assists in the repair and healing of damaged tissues. According to energiseforlife.com, “Chlorophyll consumption increases the number of red blood cells and, therefore, increase oxygen utilization by the body. Chlorophyll also reduces the binding of carcinogens to DNA in the liver and other organs. It also breaks down calcium oxalate stones for elimination, which are created by the body for the purpose of neutralizing and disposing of excess acid.” Hmmm . . . .
Chlorophyll is also a wonderful filter for pollutants; in fact, regular ingestion of chlorophyll has proven to be a great neutralizer of environmental pollution. This means it would be very beneficial for smokers. Finally, chlorophyll is probably best known for its deodorizing benefits, reducing body odor and bad breath. I call it my daily detoxifier!!
~ 1. A multi-vitamin (with iron and Vitamin D added)
~ 2. Calcium (a must for women, for bone & teeth health)
~ 3. Vitamin D (my physician told me to shoot for 3000mg a day)
~ 4. Vitamin B12 (recommended to fend off Alzheimer’s and dementia)
~ 5. Vitamin C (to keep my immune system in tip-top shape)
~ 6. Omega 3s (for heart health)
~ 7. Super Enzymes (as our bodies don’t readily absorb all the needed enzymes within our foods)
~ 1. Greens (yes, even though I take chlorophyll and eat fresh veggies, I take this for added measure)
~ 2. EFAs (for cardio benefits)
~ 3. Calcium
~ 4. Vitamin D
PRE-WORKOUT (see for more detailed ideas for pre and post workout snacks that have been working for me for quite a few years now: Make or Break Your Workout)
~ 1. 1 scoop Whey Protein or Egg Protein (going to try Vegan Protein when my Whey runs out)
~ 1. BCAA’s
~ 1. 1 scoop Whey Protein
Of course, supplements are just that – supplements! These must be taken with clean, whole foods and not used in place of meals. A typical daily menu for me includes a protein smoothie or oatmeal, a tuna or tempeh/kale wrap, and chicken breast & veggies for dinner, and nut, seed & dried fruit snacks.
Do I cheat??? ABSOLUTELY! I’m teased at work for my extra clean eating habits followed by extra ditch efforts of cheating. (the roses on Costco cakes are saved for me!) Hey, we are all human and that’s why we follow a healthful lifestyle in the first place . . . so that we can afford to have fun!!!!
I hope this helps you as you stand at the vitamin aisle or stare at the screen of your go-to supplement site. Nutrition and its effects on the body fascinate me. As I state on my homepage, I’d like to become certified in nutrition and personal training when I retire from teaching. In the meantime, the research I’m doing is benefitting me . . . . and now maybe you as well. In fitness love, GG
Nutrition fascinates me – we can cure, build, and sculpt ourselves with food. When I retire from the teaching profession, I’m delving into the health/fitness world for sure. Here’s the latest research I discovered. According to MSN Health & Fitness, the key nutrients in certain foods will help you look younger. My only complaint is I don’t seem to see anything with frosting on the list.
1. Blood oranges. These are full of antioxidants which decrease aging, increase collagen production and thicken the skin.
2. Shellfish. The fatty acids in shellfish nourish the skin, help maintain skin integrity and keep skin cells performing optimally.
3. Dandelion, turnip and mustard greens. Eating these slightly bitter greens has been shown to lessen your sweet tooth. (GG hint: to get my daily dose of greens, I blend mustard greens, a freshly squeezed lemon and strawberry egg white protein in a blender. Green power smoothie without the bitter taste)
4. Oregano, thyme and parsley. If you have puffy bags under your eyes in the morning, you are likely consuming too much sodium. Instead of salt, season your meals with herbs and spices such as oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley and garlic.
5. Crunchy vegetables. Celery, carrots, string beans and cauliflower contain cellulose, which helps scrub stains from your teeth — giving you a whiter, brighter smile.
6. Almond milk. Doctors say almond milk is a nutritious dairy alternative because of its high levels of magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, vitamin E, selenium and calcium. Its natural fatty acids will keep your mind sharp, your immune system strong and your skin glowing.
Go for it. Even if these don’t tickle your fancy at first read, we’re all looking for some form of fountain of youth, right? Try it.
The safe, effective, GUARANTEED way to lose fat!!
I followed this diet two years ago and lost 6% body fat and 10 pounds gradually within 9 weeks. A few friends have been asking me about this for some time. Adjust the grams and calories according to your weight. As long as your total calories amounts to 30 – 35% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 25 – 30% fat, you’ll be losing those lbs while gaining lean muscle.
MY INTAKE: 110 grams Protein = 440 calories; 125 grams Carbs = 500 calories; 29 grams Fat = 260 calories – – – – 1200 calories total per day
Once you calculate your daily intake, here’s the servings per food groups you should include:
Food Group & Number of Servings
Bread – 3
Fruit – 3
Nonfat Milk – 3
Vegetable – 4
Very Lean – 7
Lean – 5
Medium Fat – 1
Fat – 4
Now here’s an example of how I use this plan:
Breakfast – Water
1 bread = 1/2 cup oatmeal
1 milk = 1 cup fat free milk (used to make my oatmeal)
1 fruit = 2 tb blueberries
1 medium-fat protein = 1 whole egg, hard boiled
1 very lean protein – 2 egg whites
1 fat = 1 tb flaxseed on oatmeal
Snack – Water
1 vegetable = 1 cup mini carrots
1 fat = 6 almonds
Lunch – Water
1 bread = turkey breast wrap
2 vegetable = fill wrap with veggie choices
4 very lean protein = 3 oz turkey
1 fat = 1 oz cheese
free – dijon mustard
Preworkout Snack -Water
Milk = 1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 Fruit = 3/4 cup blueberries
1 fruit = 1 1/4 cup whole strawberries
1 milk = 1 c fat-free milk
2 very lean protein = 14 g whey protein
Dinner – Green Tea
1 bread = 1/2 baked sweet potato
1 vegetable = 1/2 c asparagus
5 lean protein = 5 oz. wild salmon
1 fat = 1 tsp olive oil for salmon
These foods won’t make you smarter, but study after study shows they can help keep you alert by fighting the effects of carbohydrates (bread, sugar, candy), which make you more calm and sleepy. The dinner the night before a test is important and breakfast before the morning of an exam is essential. Choose from foods such as these.
Foods To Eat Before A Test
1. Eggs – nature’s purest food complete with protein to provide sustained energy and sharpness.
2. Chicken – leading source of lean animal protein.
3. Fish – excellent low fat, high protein source of essential vitamins.
4. Cottage Cheese – low carbohydrate, high protein. Fun fact: President Nixon liked to eat cottage cheese with ketchup and pepper.
5. Nuts – especially almonds which are packed with Vitamin E and magnesium. A handful of these help you feel and look better!
6. Apples – great source of fiber and helps regulate blood sugar level.
7. Non-fat or low fat plain yogurt – loads of calcium and live bacteria that helps protect you from harmful bacteria. Stick with plain yogurt and use fresh fruit for flavor instead; flavored yogurt contains higher amounts of sugar.
8. Fresh berries . . . blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – berries contain more than the average fruit’s share of antioxidants.
9. Broccoli – the folic acid will keep your brain rolling.
10. Water, water, water (okay, this is not food but it’s essential!) you need to stay hydrated before and during an exam. Dehydration may cause you to lose focus or feel sick during the test.
IF YOU ARE TOO NERVOUS TO EAT: Drink a protein shake or smoothie or other healthy drink (be sure it’s not a drink with sugar). This will give you the energy you need to keep going until you can eat properly. My favorite is Breakfast in a Blender. These days, I also add Chia Seeds to this recipe.
Happy Testing!!! Relax – You Can Do It!!!
I’ve been taste-testing both dairy and nondairy milks lately, part to appease curiosity and part to educate on the varying benefits. I have to force myself to drink water (see post: Reasons to Drink) but I’ve never had a problem drinking milk – I’m the crazy person who likes to drink milk with dinner every night even if dinner is pizza!!!!! I know, I know, they don’t really go together but it seems more normal the more I do it. I’d like to understand all my options for milk consumption so here’s what I found out so far. ➛ ➛ ➛
Want Milk? (how a cup of each measures up)
WHOLE MILK (fortified)
Calories – 149
Total Fat – 8 g
Saturated Fat – 4.5 g
Lactose – 12 g
Calcium – 276 mg
Vitamin D – 124 IU
Taste – Creamy to the max
GG Grade = C I only use this when I’m baking super-duper desserts like my melt-in-your mouth vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Otherwise, it tastes like I’m drinking cream. It is hard to fathom that, growing up, this is what I used to drink every single day until my mother became wise on the low-fat deal.
LOW FAT (1% milk fat)
Calories – 102
Total Fat – 2 g
Sat Fat – 1.5 g
Lactose – 13 g
Calcium – 305 mg
Vit D – 117 IU
Taste – As perky sweet as whole milk, but not quite as creamy
GG Grade = B This is a good option for those who crave a thicker milk but want to cut down on fat.
SKIM (fat free)
Calories – 83
Total Fat – .2 g
Sat Fat – .1 g
Lactose – 12.5 g
Calcium – 299 mg
Vit D – 115 IU
Taste – More watery, only slightly sweet
GG Grade = A This is how I like my milk – crisp and clean!!! Not an A+ because it still has more sugar than I’d like.
Calories – 168
Total Fat – 10 g
Sat Fat – 6.5 g
Lactose – 11 g
Calcium – 327 mg
Vit D – 124 IU
Taste – Rich, eensy-bit of tartness
GG Grade = B I loooove goat cheese, but I don’t crave this. This may get better the more my palette gets used to it.
Calories – 265
Total Fat – 17 g
Sat Fat – 11 g
Lactose – 13 g
Calcium – 473 mg (a whopper of milk!)
Vit D – NA
Taste – Rich, not as tart as goat’s milk
GG Grade = B- Once I get over the fact that this is coming from sheep, this gets the grade for the best bang of calcium for your buck. Alas, more calories come with it. Another downside, no Vitamin D. Does that mean I have an excuse to lie in the sun more often?
SOY MILK (fortified)
Calories – 104
Total Fat – 4 g
Sat Fat – .5 g
Lactose – 0 g
Calcium – 299 mg
Vit D – 104 IU
Taste – Somewhat sweet with a grain taste
GG Grade = B Some healthful desserts call for this. I am leery to give it an A because of questionable link between soy consumption and estrogen-positive breast cancer.
RICE MILK (fortified)
Calories – 118
Total Fat – 2.4 g
Sat Fat – 0 g
Lactose – 0 g
Calcium – 297 mg
Vit D – 100 IU
Taste – Light and airy
GG Grade = A I tasted this for the first time a couple of months ago. It now jumps semi-regularly into my grocery cart. I’m not lactose intolerant but I like the unique taste.
I’ve never been an active soda drinker and, in fact, for the past two years I’ve eliminated soft drinks from my diet completely. It’s just not something I crave, thank goodness. A dear friend just sent me this information via an eye-opening email. The indisputable benefits of water and the horrid effects of soft drinks are evident. An ex-boyfriend used to drink seemingly countless cans of Diet Coke throughout the day, every day – morning, noon or night. A couple of years ago, two of his back teeth literally fell out of his mouth. They apparently decayed drastically from frequent soft drink exposure! It was a rude awakening for him to stop ‘cold turkey’ – here’s the information that will give you food for thought . . . or drink for contemplating:
Yesterday was one of those days that flew by – I spent it with a very dear friend of 17 (update, make that 20!) years. We met as next door neighbors when we settled into our new homes. Our girls, just two weeks apart in age, are still best buds and we are close friends forever. We’ve both since moved and I sometimes really miss those days when we walked into each other’s houses as if they were interchangeable (and it was usually through the back doors), used each other’s yards as our own, and knew we were only steps away from good company and fun laughs.
Much of our lunch conversation yesterday centered on food and nutrition. She’s as fanatic about working out as I am; I recall those evening bike rides with fondness. Anyway, she asked me what I eat before and after working out as she’s trying to add more protein to her diet. I’ve been meaning to post a blog about this because it’s so important yet so many people neglect this part in their workout regime. Without energy from proper nutrition, exercise will be sluggish and potential results cannot be attained. By the same token, muscles that just worked so hard will not recover without recovery fuel.
My Favorite Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Snacks!
PRE-WORKOUT: (within an hour before exercise)
protein + slow-digesting carbs
You need a good source of protein to get your muscles growing. Slow-digesting carbs gives good energy without the unnecessary fat. My Muscle & Fitness Hers May/June 2008 magazine says that 20-30 grams of protein and 30-40 grams of slow-digesting carbs is needed. If you’re in a hurry, grab a yogurt and a piece of fruit. If you have a few moments, here are a couple examples from the magazine that I personally have been using for the past year:
1 scoop whey protein
1 cup skim milk or 1 cup low fat yogurt
1/2 cup All-Bran cereal (GG says this is the world’s most versatile cereal)
1/2 cup whey protein
1/2 cup soy protein
1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt (GG’s fave is Fage! Check out my review of it.)
1 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 scoop soy protein powder
2 cups water
3/4 cups rasberries
3/4 cup blueberries (is there such thing as eating too many berries a day??? cause I could pop strawberries, rasberries, blackberries, blueberries, mulberies, goji berries in my mouth aaaallll day)
POSTWORKOUT (within 45 minutes after workout)
protein + fast-digesting carbs
Protein powers our muscles that just worked so hard and the fast carbs boost insulin levels to help that protein get into muscles. M & F Hers recommends 40 grams of fast-digesting protein and 30-40 grams of fast-digesting carbs. If you’re in a hurry, just mixing a scoop of protein powder with water is sufficient until your next meal. If you have a few more moments to prepare something, these are perfect:
1 scoop whey protein
1 cup water
1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1/2 cup mini marshmallows (confession: I decided I have to take a break from these because, when I have them in the house, I can’t control myself. I ate a half of a bag in one sitting the other day. Ugghhh)
1 scoop whey
1/2 scoop soy protein
2 cups water
1/2 bag 94% fat-free popcorn
1 scoop whey protein powder
1/2 scoop soy protein powder
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. jelly
1 slice white bread (hmmmm)
Post-workout snacks are delish because of the sweet stuff!!!! Ummm, just don’t overdo it like I did with the marshmallows.
GG’s Healthy Eating Shortcuts and Tips aka “How to Shake the Sugar”
In this American society of super-sizing, more-is-less, fast and convenient food nation, there are small things we can do that make a big difference in our health. I don’t have many vices . . . salt, caffeine, I’ll pass . . . but I LOVE my sugar. Why oh why do the most “deliciousest” foods on earth have to be oh so bad for you?!? You’re reading the words from a person who used to eat cake for breakfast, a chocolate shake with a tator-tot lunch, and devour dessert after dinner too – all in the same day! I’ve been known to eat a whole can of prepared frosting by itself. Or inhale sprayed finger-fuls of whipped cream. Or lick the spatula from my mother’s baked goodies. My habit became so insane that my grandmother used to tell me I’d get ants in my stomach if I kept up with my indulgences. So, dear readers, if I can curb my sweet tooth, anyone can. Here are my secret tips to survive the temptations of decadent dishes. Some may sound trivial, but the calories, fats, sodium and sugar content all add up quickly. Follow these, and you’ll be able to indulge a little more without the added guilt or calories, and your recipes will be more healthful. These shortcuts really do help without disappointing the palate and I personally follow each one:
Tip #1 = When a recipe of baked goodies calls for vegetable oil, replace that with olive oil. It tastes the same once baked, trust me!
Tip #2 = When a recipe calls for butter, use half the amount prescribed. You won’t notice a difference.
Tip #3 = When a recipe calls for eggs, replace half of the eggs with 2 egg whites each. For example, 2 eggs = 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites; 4 eggs = 2 eggs + 4 egg whites
Tip #4 = When a recipe calls for white flour, use half white flour, half whole wheat (or even ¾ white and ¼ whole wheat will do).
Tip #5 = When a recipe calls for sugar, use half the sugar OR replace the sugar with half the amount of Truvia. (1/2 cup Truvia = 1 cup sugar).
Tip #6 = Don’t add salt to food as you prepare it . . . not even to boiling pasta. Your taste buds will soon hardly notice a difference. If you can’t go cold turkey, use half the portions of salt now and work your way down.
Tip #7 = Use fresh lemon or lime juice rather than store bought. Hmmm so good and no added sodium.
Tip #8 = Use low/reduced fat shredded cheese in foods such as homemade pizza, pastas, and tacos/burritos. Trust me, it’s equally good!
Tip #9 = Fat free Cool Whip, 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and reduced fat grated Parmesan cheese all taste just as delectable as the originals.
Tip #10 = When eating out, ask for dressing on the side. Here is where the calories and fat of a salad lie; place the dressing on as sparingly as possible without sacrificing taste.
Tip #11 = Make your own flavored water by placing fruit slices in a pitcher of water. My favorites are lemon slices or strawberry pieces. Homemade Propel without the additives!
Tip #12 = If you cannot curb your taste for soft drinks, replace your usual soft drink with Zevia, the 100%, thirst quenching natural soda. I don’t crave soft drinks, but I enjoy this very much!!
Don’t get me wrong, I still crave my sugar. Just ask my colleagues who yell across the English office to let me know how many roses are left on a cake. Hey, old habits die hard. That’s why I take these little shortcuts . . . to afford the occasional splurge. At least I’m not eating a whole can of the stuff anymore (maybe. . . )!