Trying to eat healthy in the firehouse (or your own house)? stay on track with these simple tips...
Cooking in the firehouse for a bunch of hungry firefighters and/or family members is not easy. In most cases we sacrifice health for taste to avoid complaints and heckling. But, to change the culture of the fire service and of your family (to a healthier one) cooks and food choices need to healthy. Here are 3 easy and healthy tips that can help you and your crew improve your nutrition.
- Assemble 5 simple and healthy recipes that can be easily tweaked to create different dishes. --
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 (one of my favorites is posted below).
- Have some healthy fruits and veggies always available. -- Around my firehouse we have replaced the random cookies and muffins with celery and orange slices. Please note that I do not throw the cakes and cookies away, I just place them in a cupboard or on a remote counter so that it takes a little more effort to eat them. Then, I put veggies and fruit on the table and in the areas that all these processed and sugary foods usually are. We are creatures of habit, after a call or late at night, its habit to walk to the kitchen to see what is there, if there are healthier options out, we are less likely to search for the crap. This works in the firehouse and in my own home. Give it a try.
- Replace pitchers of sugary fruit juices and sweet teas with water. --Muscles are comprised of water in a great percentage. That is 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-known fact that by the time you feel this way you are already dehydrated. So, replacing the sugary juices that do not add any nutritional value with water can help us perform better. And the added sugars in these drinks can lead to added weight gain, a decrease in your immune response and a plethora of other health issues. Need to spruce up boring water? Try to cut some lemons, mangos, limes, or other seasonal fruits and put them in the pitcher with some water and ice. This is a great way to intake more water and it tastes good too.
(Bonus) Only eat whole foods with ONE ingredient. -That is, 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, fruit juices and condiments (barbecue sauce, ketchup). Intaking high amounts of HFCS and other artificial sweeteners and preservatives can lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. So, try to avoid these processed foods and chemicals.
Another reason to stick to one ingredient foods are that they are the most naturally nutrient packed, and provide you with nutrients, and energy to fuel your body.
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 and family environment healthier. 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
Do-it-Yourself Salad Bar (serves about 4)
-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 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 and sugar).