Starting Fresh:Eating healthily in your NQT year


As you embark upon your NQT year you will be faced with a barrage of advice, some more useful than others.

An internet search through the educational journals and education sections of leading national newspapers will unearth strategies, tips and experienced reflection on matters ranging from teaching styles to behaviour management.

One of the best pieces of advice we have received as new teachers is ‘Look after yourself.’ Your wellbeing is important for a number of reasons:

  • For your own professional development. If you aren’t well, you will not teach to the standard you wish and your students won’t get the impact from your teaching that they deserve.
  • For your professional standing. If you have regular absences or are simply under the weather and not able to work to your usual capacity, children and parents are harsh judges. So are some senior leaders.
  • For your school. If you are ill, particularly in Primary Schools, cover is expensive, often unreliable if from an outside source and if you are absent for any length of time the children will get out of the routines you have worked so hard to establish.
  • For your personal pride. We have never met a teacher who doesn’t want to give their complete commitment to the children in their care. A Google search for ‘Teacher Guilt’ will reveal genuine concerns in this regard.

You will want to be in school every day if you can. Your children, parents and leaders want you there too, but equally all parties want you healthy. This is why NQTs really need to consider how healthy their diet is.

Everyone is different and one person’s definition of healthy may differ widely from that of another, but we hope in this blog to build up a range of strategies, pieces of advice and lifestyle analysis that will support all teachers. You will also find some recipes too.

In the meanwhile these are some of the best pieces of starter advice we can share through our own experience of being and supporting NQTs.

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, whether you eat it at home or at school. In our profession think about the slow release of carbohydrates. Porridge or homemade muesli is ideal.
  • Keep hydrated. Our post addresses this in some depth.
  • Take your breaks, particularly your lunch break. Don’t rush your food either as an afternoon of indigestion or heartburn will lead to you feeling drained and
  • Keep a bowl of fruit to hand, in your classroom, cupboard or staffroom table. Fruit is a healthy snack, provides an energy boost, contains Vitamin C which may act as a preventative to colds and flu and is low in sugar.
  • Talking of which, try to avoid the sugar rush. Cakes are great on a birthday, or on a Friday to mark the end of a hectic week, but a sugar rush does what it says on the tin! A quick boost of energy followed by a very sudden slump.
  • Eat an evening meal at a reasonable time. Make this part of your evening routine. You wouldn’t expect to be answering work emails or planning at ridiculous o’clock, so do the same with your supper. If you are fresh out of university, you may be living with family still, so there may be others to cook for you. If you are on your own, or have family to support yourself, regular routines, menu planning and economy are all considerations. In coming weeks we hope to be adding more in the way of this kind of advice.
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  • Eating late piles on calories and impacts sleep patterns.
  • Get into good habits early and stick to them. Think ahead to key work deadlines and don’t let them hinder your diet, exercise or sleep regime.

This is far from an exclusive list but it gives you a start. Please add your comments below with further advice that you have found useful.

Enjoy your NQT year. You’ve come this far, so look after yourself and you are well on the way to being a wonderful teacher.


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