Working full time while raising children is physically and mentally demanding. With little time for themselves, parents who come home from their day job to their second shift as mom or dad may be stressed and fatigued. But with dinner, homework, and kids’ bedtimes to juggle, there’s little respite from an already packed day. So to combat the effects of a hectic, non-stop day, we’ve compiled 10 essential nutrients that working parents need to feel more energized, relaxed, happy, and healthy.
Calcium 1 of 10In stressful situations your body depletes its supply of calcium, so it's important to be mindful of this and eat calcium-rich foods when things are particularly hectic. This is especially crucial if you happen to be pregnant or breast-feeding. Everybody knows dairy is high in calcium, but green leafy vegetables and tofu are also great sources. These easy kale chips are a great way to get your vitamins on the go. Plus they're a tasty mid-afternoon pick-me-up when you start zoning out at the office!
Make kale chips
Image: Julie Van Rosendaal
B Vitamins 2 of 10B vitamins are essential to the proper functioning of brain and nerve cells, which means that consuming sufficient B-vitamins is crucial to having the brain power and mental clarity to cope with stressful situations (and from work deadlines to dance recitals, I'm going to guess that you have plenty of those). Vegetables like spinach and broccoli are great sources of B-vitamins, and this baked broccoli rabe is a cinch for working parents to make.
Make baked broccoli rabe
Vitamin C 3 of 10Stress can weaken the immune system which can lead to illness which leads to more stress. Not to mention that work germs combined with school or daycare germs can really do a number on your immune system. Vitamin C, quickly depleted in times of stress, is an excellent immune booster, so go ahead and load up on fruits like oranges, cantaloupe, and kiwi, or veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and peppers. This salty sweet cantaloupe salad just might help you turn your next "sick" day into a "let's play hookie from work" day!
Make cantaloupe salad with fresh figs, basil, and olives
Iron 4 of 10Iron does a lot of things in the body, carrying oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our bodies, among them. If you are feeling consistently run down, (I know, I know, what busy parent doesn't have ongoing fatigue issues?) you low iron levels may be causing you fatigue. Supercharge your iron levels and get the energy to plow through this week's budget report with iron-rich foods like clams, leafy greens, or lean red meats (especially organ meats).
Make spaghetti and clams
Image: Jenny Rosenstrach
Complex Carbohydrates 5 of 10Though often vilified, carbs can be a great resource for boosting your energy and evening out your blood sugar — just the thing you need to make it through your commute, dinner, and bedtime routine. Stick with healthy, complex carbs like unsweetened whole grain bread or protein-rich quinoa for a quick way to nab some extra energy to make it to your 5 o'clock quitting time.
How to cook quinoa
Image: Julie Van Rosendaal
Magnesium 6 of 10Staring at a computer screen from 9 to 5 everyday can leave your body tired and cranky. The healthy fats and protein in nuts can deliver a big energy boost. They also contain magnesium, which can play an important role in converting sugar to energy. Magnesium deficiencies can lead to chronic fatigue, so get your fix by eating nuts or dark, leafy greens.
Make a puffed berry bowl
Image: Kathy Patalsky
Tyrosine 7 of 10The amino acid tyrosine replenishes energy stores and helps to battle the effects of stress. Parents who find themselves dealing with office politics during the day and playing referee to ornery kids at night know what stress can do to the body, which is why tyrosine is an essential vitamin for working moms and dads. You can find this stress-relieving amino acid in soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, and almonds. This tasty almond shake is a perfect way to get your tyrosine fix since it doubles as a filling, on-the-go breakfast.
Make an almond shake
Image: Kathy Patalsky
Fiber 8 of 10According to WebMD, fiber can slow digestion and help to stabilize your energy supply by providing a steady stream of nutrients throughout your hectic day. Beans, fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grain cereals are all excellent sources of fiber. Enjoy some whole grains for breakfast to give your body a steady supply of nutrients to make it through your 9 to 5 work grind ... and your 5 to bedtime parenting grind.
Make baked oatmeal with blackberries and ginger
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 9 of 10A tough day at work or any variety of parenting struggles can take a toll on your mood, but there's evidence that a healthy intake of omega-3 fatty acids can improve your outlook and may even help with depression (but is not a substitute for treatment with a physician). Fish and flax seeds are both excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, just the foods to give you the emotional strength to deal with your demanding boss ... and kids!
Make sweet chili glazed salmon
Image: Angie McGowan
Zinc 10 of 10Even the busiest parents need to make time for intimacy, which can be tough when working a fulltime job during the day and taking care of your kids at night. Upping your intake of zinc may mean you're more inclined to get busy with your honey after hours. There's a link between zinc and testosterone levels, so nosh some zinc-rich foods to get in the mood. Zinc can also give your overworked immune system a boost. Red meats, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, and dark chocolate (Did I just tell you to eat dark chocolate? Yep!) are all
Is dark chocolate a miracle health food?
Note: These suggestions are all for healthy, food-based sources of important nutrients. If you are considering supplements for these nutrients, talk to your doctor first.
More from Brooklyn Supper:
Read more from Elizabeth and Brian on Brooklyn Supper.
Follow Brooklyn Supper on Facebook and Twitterfor updates.
Don’t miss the latest from The Family Kitchen Like Us on Facebook!
We’re pinning — are you? Follow Brooklyn Supper on Pinterest!