Eat well, farm better

Eating well gives your body the energy and nutrients it needs to perform at its best. That’s why a nutritious diet and regular meals are essential for a physically demanding job like farming.

Research shows that a lot of farmers are great at looking after their stock, but often neglect their own diet. Having the right ‘fuel in the tank’ is essential to keep you going through the day.

When we are busy and/or stressed, eating well is even more important to stop us getting sick and provide the energy and nutrients we need for our physical and emotional health.

Wairarapa-based nutritionist Sarah Percy has worked with Farmstrong to create some of the resources for farmers on our website. We asked her to share some practical tips about how to eat well and maintain energy levels when you’re going hard-out during the busy season. Here’s what she had to say.

Create your own food bank 

When you cook a casserole, bolognaise, curry or soup, cook a double or triple batch and freeze half. In no time you will have a freezer ‘food bank’ to use in the future when work is flat out and time is precious.

Keep the pantry stocked

Have plenty of quick options handy in the store cupboard, such as tinned fish, tinned tomatoes, frozen veggies, rice and potatoes so that a balanced meal can be whipped up from pantry items.

Cook once, eat twice 

Do a double batch of your meal and use the leftovers in a different dish the next day. Have shepherd pie one night, the next use the leftover mince, mix in chilli beans and serve as Mexican wraps with salad and avocado.

Remember to Snack

When you are doing physical work throughout the day regular snacks are important to top up the fuel in your body and maintain your energy levels. Keep snacks in the glove box of your Ute, take a backpack if you are heading out on the farm on foot or leave food at strategic places on the farm, so you don’t get caught short.

Grab a break

Coming in for a break also creates the perfect opportunity to have a nourishing snack to keep you going for longer. Along with a cuppa, grab a hardboiled egg, or a cold chicken drumstick, fruit muffin, fresh fruit and/or pottle of yoghurt. Remember to try and have nutritional snacks, so rather than grabbing noodles, chips or a chocolate bar when you are hungry, go for a nutritional option instead, it’ll make you more productive.

Stay hydrated and stick to water

You need to prioritise drinking water – keep water bottles in the woolshed and dairy shed, in the Ute or on the quad. Take a camelpak or a drink bottle out with you on the farm and take
regular slurps.

Water is definitely best because coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks, and energy drinks all contain caffeine which is a diuretic so they actually have a dehydrating effect on your body. So, if you are a tea or coffee drinker, have a drink of water while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. And if you’re a caffeinated soft drink or energy drink person, try and reduce your intake of these – they tend to be full of sugar, caffeine, additives and chemicals which our bodies don’t need.

Look after yourself

Remember, the number one asset on any farm is the farmer and the people who work for you. Eating well can bring real benefits to your business. A nutritious, well-balanced diet means that you’ll feel fitter, stronger and enjoy improved energy levels. You’ll boost your immune system and stay healthier and you’ll also think more clearly and handle stress better.

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