Eat Well, Farm Well
A nutritious diet and regular meals are an important part of farming well. Keeping your energy levels on track throughout the day is about fuelling up with the right food options and not relying on sugary foods or another coffee to get you through.
A nutritious, well-balanced diet will:
- make you feel fitter and stronger
- improve your energy levels
- reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer
- boost your immune system and stay healthier
- help you to think more clearly and handle stress
The key to eating well is choosing fresh, whole foods rather than packaged and processed options. Processed foods are more likely to be stripped of nutrients and often have unhealthy amounts of sugar, salt and fat.
This means choosing a balance of foods from the following food groups each day – meat and chicken, fish and eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, grains and legumes.
Get to Know the Food Pyramid
Eating well is about getting the balance right between various foods. This food pyramid will help you achieve a healthy, daily diet. Inside it are the recommended daily servings for different food groups. At the base of the pyramid are the other things that keep us well – staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and exercise and managing stress.
Learn What Good Looks Like
This delicious looking roast meal has everything you need from the different food groups in the right proportions. There is a ¼ plate of meat, ¼ plate of potatoes/kumara and ½ plate colourful vegetables.
We need to drink plenty of fluid to hydrate our bodies and stay healthy. This is really important for anyone doing physical, outdoors work, especially during hot weather. Being dehydrated lowers physical performance, makes it harder to make decisions and leads to constipation. So just like you stop for your dogs to drink, remember to provide plenty of fresh water for you and your staff. Keep water bottles in the woolshed and dairy shed, in the ute or on the quad. Take a drink bottle out with you on the farm and take regular slurps.
Quick tip: stick to water. Coffee, tea and energy and soft drinks with caffeine in them actually dehydrate your body.
Remember to Snack
When you do physical work throughout the day regular snacks are important to top up the ‘fuel’ in your body and maintain energy levels. Keep snacks in the glovebox of your ute, take a backpack if you are heading out on the farm or leave food at strategic places on the farm, so you don’t get caught short!
Remember, what you snack on should enhance your nutrition, choose healthy snacks such as: muesli bars, fresh fruit, scroggin mix, bliss balls, nuts and dried fruit.
Eat regular meals
Sometimes when we are busy on the farm and pressed for time, it is tempting to sacrifice regular meals. But running on an empty tank is really counter- productive. So, try and eat 3 meals and two lots of snacks a day.
If you find yourself coming in after a hard day and feeling irritable, it may be ‘hanger’ – hungry anger – caused by low blood sugars. Regular meals and some protein at each meal will keep your blood sugars constant and minimise ‘hanger’.
If you don’t have the time to prepare a meal, the following can be whipped up in minutes and will fuel you in the right way: poached eggs on toast, toasted sandwiches, muffins, smoothies, fruit, cereal, porridge.
Create your own food bank. When you cook a casserole, bolognaise, curry or soup, cook a double batch and freeze half. In no time you’ll have a freezer ‘food bank’ to use when time is precious.
Cook once, eat twice. Have shepherd pie one night, the next use the leftover mince, mix in chilli beans and serve as Mexican wraps with salad and avocado.
Keep the pantry stocked. Have plenty of quick options handy in the cupboard, such as tinned fish, tomatoes, frozen veggies, rice and potatoes so a balanced meal can be quickly whipped up from pantry items.