Cooking in the firehouse for a bunch of hungry firefighters is not easy, trust me I know. In most cases we sacrifice health for taste to avoid complaints and heckling. But, in order to change the culture of the fire service (to a healthier one) cooks and food choices need to get better. Here are 3 easy and healthy tips that can help.
1. Assemble 5 simple and healthy recipes that can be easily tweaked to create different dishes.–
Learning new recipes are fun but isn’t best done in a busy firehouse. We all know, the more times we make a recipe, the faster, easier and possibly healthier it gets–It becomes a routine, like putting on your gear. There are a lot of resources to find healthy recipes, pick some out and use them as your staples. Need healthy recipe ideas and some extra guidance on nutrition? Join the FRF Fit for Duty Challenge Program…Eating guidelines included (take advantage today).
2. Have some healthy fruits and veggies always available.-– Around my firehouse we have replaced the random cookies and muffins with celery and orange slices. Put all of the processed sugary foods and cakes away and leave some of veggies and fruit out around the kitchen. After some calls, its habit to walk to the kitchen to see whats there, if there are healthier options out, we are less likely to search for the crap.
3. Replace pitchers of sugary fruit juices with water.–Muscles are comprised of water in a great percentage. That’s why when we get dehydrated our muscles look smaller and performance decreases. Only a 2% water loss decreases the ability to work by 15%. It is important to remember that you should never wait until you feel thirsty. It is a well know fact that by the time you feel this way you are already dehydrated. So, replacing the sugary juices that don’t add with any nutritional value with water can help us perform better. Need to spruce up boring water? Try to cut some lemons, mangos or limes and put them in the pitcher.
4. (Bonus) Only eat whole foods with ONE ingredient. -That’s it. The reason why one ingredient whole foods are the best for you is that they contain zero processing and zero artificial ingredients that have been linked to increasing inflammation. One of these common ingredients is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a man-made sweetener that is 20 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It is mainly found in soft drinks and fruit juices. Americans as of 2001 were ingesting on averaging 63 pounds of HFCS per year! The health implications to consuming HFCS are that it has been shown to raise triglyceride levels,which are a precursor to heart disease. Elevated triglyceride levels are related to high insulin levels which promotes fat storage, inflammation and is a precursor to Type II Diabetes. Obviously you want to avoid HFCS along with other processed ingredients.
Another reason to stick to one ingredient foods are that they are the most naturally nutrient packed, which provides you with the maximum enzymes, nutrients, and energy to fuel your body with. Plus, they are satiating and are the exact foods nature intended us to eat. Some of the best ones in the grocery store don’t even have a label… (keep in mind that if the food doesn’t have a label on it that’s usually a dead give away that it’s probably a one ingredient whole food.) So next time you are preparing a meal at the firehouse or for you family, try to include one ingredient foods and stay away from the processed ingredients. Once again, read your labels and consume more water while decreasing your intake of soft drinks and fruit juices.
As mentioned above, we (as fire rescue athletes) need to make the firehouse environment more healthy. Try to incorporate these tips at your firehouse (or any house).
Stay Safe and Healthy,
PS…Here is a quick and healthy option for lunch
-Steak or chicken (about a pound and a half)
-One large cucumber
-One red pepper
-One cup of raspberries or strawberries
-Package of sunflower seeds
-small package of mozzarella (lower fat) cheese
-16-20 ounces of salad 50/50 mix
Slice up the cucumbers, berries, peppers, and leave each in a separate bowl. Put the salad in a large mixing bowl. Grill the chicken or steak, I like to use olive oil and lawry’s seasoning. Place all items on a the table and let the crew create their own salads
You can serve this with some real potato (lower fat) chips and Raspberry vinaigrette dressing (look for a dressing with minimal ingredients)