Tips for Healthy Snacking at the Firehouse

  February 8, 2016

Everyone (especially around the firehouse) loves a good snack. But what actually is a “good” snack.

If you ask some, they will define a good snack as something that tastes great but doesn’t fill you up like a meal.  If your stomach starts rumbling and lunch is still two hours away, you’re going to need a snack to make it through the day. What we as fire rescue athletes (firefighters, EMTs and medics) must remember is that the foods you eat at snack time can make a big difference in your energy level, decision making, performance, and overall health.
Choose the wrong snack, and you’ll feel dragged down, tired and cloudy.  Choose wisely, and you’ll get the boost and performance you need.
Choose your snacks wisely, you never
know when you will need the exra energy.
Before your next snack break, think twice about what you are about to eat and remember the following information when you’re craving a snack!
Snacking for Energy
If you find yourself fighting sleepiness in the afternoon, what your body needs is a boost of energy. Snacks eaten midday should contain good fats and protein to give and sustain your energy level. Here are a few good options when you need an energy-boosting snack.
  • A small apple or sliced banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter. The natural sugars in fruit take longer to metabolize than sugars found in candy, and the peanut butter provides the protein needed for long-lasting energy.

 

  • A quarter cup of nuts and dried fruit. This slow-burning mixture provides protein, good fats (that’s right – fats aren’t always bad), and plenty of fiber, all wrapped up in a delicious package. Just be careful, many dried fruits add sugars…

 

  • One tablespoon of hummus spread on four whole-grain crackers. Made from garbanzo beans, hummus is a great energy booster and is also full of fiber. And the whole-grain crackers are made with complex carbohydrates, which help fill you up without dragging you down.

 

  • Sliced avocado with deli sliced turkey wrapped around them

 

  • A handful of almonds or nuts (these are easy to take on the truck with you)
Snacking for Weight Management
Many people eliminate snacks when attempting to lose weight. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive, as snacks keep you satisfied between meals. If dinnertime arrives and you’re exceptionally hungry, it’s easy to overeat. Eating several small snacks throughout the day will help keep your hunger in check. However, you should avoid eating snacks when you’re bored, stressed, zoning out in front of the TV, or not paying attention to what you’re eating while studying for your next exam.

The key is to choose snacks that fit with your daily calorie and nutrient needs. If your goal is to lose weight, choose low-calorie, nutrient-filled snacks. If you need to gain weight or if you are physically fit and need to replenish energy from a strenuous workout, go for higher calorie, nutritious snacks.
Low-carb snack ideas include vegetables, reduced-fat yogurt and cottage cheese, half of an avocado, and a few deli slices.

I know some of these options may not be popular with all the members of the crew but we all have to remember that what we eat determines how we perform on the fireground and on scene.  Remember, eat like your life depends on it…because it does.

 

Stay safe and healthy,

Aaron Zamzow

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