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Keeping your nutrition on track during calving

Keeping your nutrition on track during calving

Keeping good habits when life gets busy is always a challenge, and calving season is no exception.

The key is setting aside time to prepare for the week ahead, Methven dietician Cushla Holdaway says.

“It’s about really trying to prioritise some time each week, whether that’s to do some online shopping for groceries, making a rough plan for what meals are for the week and just setting yourself up to be consistent rather than just hoping for the best ,” Cushla says.

While carbohydrates tend to be convenient, it’s important to make sure your food intake contains a good amount of healthy protein and vegetables.

“ I always encourage quick, simple protein sources, which could be easy things like pre-preparing a whole bunch of boiled eggs that you can peel and use as you go,”

Easy options like canned fish are a good source of protein and omega-3, as well as dairy products such as cottage cheese and high-protein yoghurt.

Adding cheese to your meal is an excellent way to boost protein and calcium intake as well, Cushla said.

Slow cookers and instant pots are a great way to cook food in bulk, leaving enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

“Slow cookers are especially good in the winter time, and the beauty of cooking in bulk is that you put the effort in once.

"It makes things so much easier because who wants to spend a whole day meal prepping on a Sunday?” Cush said.

Organising healthy snacks to have on hand is a good strategy for maintaining healthy eating habits when things are busy, and getting home for a healthy snack can be difficult.

“The risk is that you get so hungry that you come back inside and then probably make worse food choices because you are just ravenous.

“Having somewhere in the dairy shed, where you can have some snack food or maybe tuck some nut-based muesli bars in your overalls, is a great option.

"Having something available so you don’t get too hungry is important, and calving is pretty physical, so your energy needs are generally a lot higher too.”

While skipping breakfast when heading out the door in the early hours is tempting, it’s an important meal to set yourself up for the day ahead.

“The danger for active people is that by skipping breakfast, you’re missing an opportunity to get nutrition in your day, which can lead to overeating later on.”

Staying away from high-energy carbohydrates for breakfast and instead choosing nutrition and protein means you start the day with a bang, Cushla said.

“If it’s really early, you’re not going to necessarily feel like eating.

“If that’s the case, then maybe having something really simple like a banana before you head out the door and then coming in an hour or two later for something a little bit more adequate.

“Eggs on toast alongside some yogurt with fruit is great.

"It’s not really smoothie time of the year, but if people do like smoothies, then it’s a good way to get multiple vitamins and minerals and different kinds of fruit and veg in one drink.”

Cooking in bulk and being prepared helps farmers keep to their nutrition goals over calving and is an excellent way to eat healthily when food prices are high.

Cushla also recommends using frozen and canned vegetables as a convenient, affordable way to maintain a healthy diet.

Bulking up meals with lentils and chickpeas can increase the number of servings in a meal, as well as protein intake.

While online shopping is more convenient during busy times, Cushla recommends shopping at veggie shops and butchers where possible.

“Supermarket fruit and veg generally costs more, but if you can get to a proper fruit and veg shop and butchery, or you have a home kill, that’s going to be way more cost-effective.

“If you are cooking in bulk and generally buying in bulk, it’s going to be much more affordable,” Cushla said.

by Claire Inkson