If, like many working dads, you have to manage the school run, ferry kids to after school clubs and provide a teenager’s taxi service in the evenings – fitting all this and your work commitments into one day can feel like an uphill battle. But a little planning and some careful forethought will ensure you’re firing on all cylinders from dawn to dusk. These simple strategies from nutritionist, Kerry Torrens take into account men’s daily nutritional needs and will help super-charge energy levels…
Don’t be a skipper
Breakfast is the cornerstone of your energy strategy, so eat within an hour of waking and not when you’re on the road or, worse still, skip breakfast altogether. Those who do miss this important meal inevitably end up snacking on sugary sweets by mid-morning, which results in an energy crash by lunch time. Don’t fall into this trap – skipping breakfast is a false economy. Time is always short in the mornings so prepare the night before – boil some eggs and keep some salmon or ham slices in the fridge, then in the morning get the whole family assembling wraps or making nutritious toast toppers to eat at home or, if time is short, to take with them.
Alternatively, mash some hard-boiled eggs with a little mustard then simply spread on toast or enjoy sliced ham with grilled tomatoes or mushrooms on crusty granary bread. By combining protein like meat, fish, eggs and dairy with carbs such as bread and cereals, you’ll be maximising your energy potential. When time is more plentiful, make breakfast special and enjoy scrambled eggs or a posh version of cheese on toast – Croque-monsieur.
Breakfast recipe suggestions
Salmon & egg wraps with mustard mayo
Baked eggs with spinach & tomato
Scrambled egg muffin
Papas a lo pobre with chorizo
Fuel up frequently
Refuel your body regularly, which means eating little and often. This not only sustains energy levels but helps keep you alert and concentrating well so that you get your full day’s work done. Keep plain popcorn, oatcakes or unsalted nuts with some dried fruit to hand so you’re never short of a ready energy boost.
Snack recipe suggestions:
Spiced chilli popcorn
Spicy seed mix
With a ‘to-do’ list as long as your arm, keeping your mind sharp is vital. Staying hydrated helps you think more clearly, which means you won’t make mistakes or forget that important meeting. Topping up your fluid level can be as simple as taking regular glugs from a water bottle – keep one on your desk so you can see how much you’ve had and alternate caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee with extra water.
Protein at lunch can make a real difference because it keeps you focused and motivated right through the afternoon. Opt for an omelette or frittata, or choose lean cuts of meat or fish and add plenty of spices for a lip-smacking salad or a spicy noodle dish. Don’t forget to include plenty of green veggies – they’re rich in magnesium, a mineral that’s important for energy metabolism.
Lunch recipe suggestions:
Asian chicken salad
Prawn sweet chilli noodle salad
Chicken soba noodles
Work as a team
Two sets of hands are most definitely better than one, so work as a team and share the responsibility for the week’s shopping and meal preparation. An hour spent planning the week ahead can make all the difference and help keep costs down. Batch cooking when you have the time can make evenings easier and will save you falling back on a take away when time is short. Opt for healthier versions of family favourites like burgers made from lean meats like turkey or even fish such as tuna, but hold on the cheese and enjoy with creamy avocado or a tangy salsa instead.
Dinner recipe suggestions
Lemon & thyme turkey burgers
Tangy tuna burgers
Family meals: Chicken & veg casserole
Working mum? Energise your day with Kerry’s top tips.
Are you a working parent? Tell us your tips for staying energised when the going gets tough…
This page was updated on 25 July 2018 by Kerry Torrens.
A qualified nutritionist (MBANT), Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).
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