Firefighters have physically and mentally demanding jobs which means we (as fire rescue athletes) have demanding nutritional needs to match. Unfortunately, research confirms that most are deficient in some essential nutrients. The most common deficiencies are in protein, water (hydration), healthy fatty acids, and the essential vitamins. Research confirms these same deficiencies for all athletes, not just fire rescue athletes. Let’s face it, with all the demands of the job it’s really hard to get all the essential vitamins and minerals from food alone. So, I came up with a couple of tips to help you manage your diet and get more of the essential nutrients needed to stay “fit for duty.”
Eat more foods rich in vitamins and minerals (eat those fruits and veggies). Depending on your age, gender and activity level, you should consume between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. This should include fruits and vegetables of a number of different colors to maximize the nutrients. Varieties that steam in-the-bag in the microwave make it quick and easy for you to prepare your vegetables and they also help minimize nutrient losses. Don’t worry about BPA getting into your food with these “steam-ables,” research shows that (Good Housekeeping 2012) these vegetables found no phthalates or BPA -steam bag vegetables are just as good for you as other frozen vegetables that you cook outside of the bag.
To get an adequate vegetable and fruit intake you need to be creative and consistent. Add them to each meal and prepare snacks with fruits and vegetables. Also, try to cut a wide variety of vegetables like celery, carrots, pea pods, and assorted peppers one or two nights a week and store them in bags or containers. Instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack you will have these cut vegetables instead. If you haven’t been accustomed to eating much produce, start small — aim for a couple of servings a day at first.