Nutrition 411 for 911: Back in the Habit
By: Gary Secino
Editor's note: March is National Nutrition Month in the U.S. This is absolutely something that we should take seriously! Here is the first of two special blogs on the topic that are catered specifically to 911 TC's. Cheers to healthier eating habits! - Brendhan
Working at a desk for 8, 10, 12, 16 or more hours can play havoc on trying to stay healthy. Here are a few tips that can help you make healthier choices while staying on your diet and exercise routine.
Focus on Fruits and Vegetables-like your mom used to say…
Fruits and vegetables are the key to a healthy diet because they're packed with nutrition while also being very low in calories. Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which keeps you feeling full. Fighting hunger is important in sticking to a low-calorie diet. Berries are a great choice to keep on your console since they don’t have to be peeled or prepared other than washing.
Tip: It’s important to eat smaller meals more frequently to maintain your sugar level so that you have energy all day.
Select the right Proteins…use your carbs for energy
Even if you're not exercising, your muscles still need protein. Choose lean protein such as chicken, turkey, seafood and lean cuts of beef or pork. Grilling or broiling is the healthiest way to cook meats and fish. Aside from protein, seafood offers essential fatty acids that can help reduce your cholesterol levels by increasing the high-density lipoproteins, or HDLs, in your blood. Be careful with fish at the PSAP. You may irritate your co-workers. Proteins take longer than carbohydrates to digest, so they can also help you feel full longer.
Tip: Add nonfat or low-fat dairy, such as yogurt, to your breakfast fruit for a sweet and filling start to your day. Add protein to your lunch salad in the form of chicken, shrimp, tuna or a hard-boiled eggs, and have a 4-ounce portion of chicken, fish or meat with your dinner vegetables.
Carbohydrates help you move
Avoid empty starchy carbs like white rice, white bread, white-flour pasta, cake, cookies, crackers and all mass-produced snack foods. I know, I know. It never hurts to treat yourself on occasion, but these foods shouldn’t be part of your regular consumption. The processed flour and refined sugars in these foods cause a sudden spike in your blood sugar, which calls for an insulin response. Once the sugar has been scrubbed from your bloodstream by the insulin, your brain may signal hunger, and you'll want another helping or a second snack.
Consider oatmeal or granola for a filling and hearty breakfast, or have a slice or two of dense, whole-grain toast topped with cottage cheese and a drizzle of honey. Use whole grains such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, barley, bulgur and buckwheat to add a little fiber and crunch to your lunch salad. With all this fiber, you might consider some Gas-X. At least on days you are working!
Tip: Choose whole-wheat pasta or experiment with spiraled vegetables or spaghetti squash if you're craving a pasta dinner. Also, encourage those bringing food into the PSAP for everyone to substitute donuts or cookies for a fruit or veggie tray.
Spice it up
You're far more likely to abandon a healthy diet if it doesn't taste good, so don't forget to experiment with seasonings. To reduce your risk of water retention, avoid salt if you can. Lemon juice goes with almost anything and adds a bit of vitamin C.
Tip: Cinnamon and honey liven up most breakfast grains.
Whisk together olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper for a quick, simple and delicious salad dressing. Try the classic combination of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme on any type of protein, such as chicken, fish, beef or pork.
Keep moving--keep your energy up
Whether you're stuck at a desk all day or just struggling to get motivated for exercise, here are ideas to help you get moving:
· Go for a walk for 30 minutes each day
· Take the stairs instead of the elevator
· Stand Up Frequently-keep your blood flowing (especially if you have sit-stand consoles)
· Do Your Chores-this will help get your 30 minute exercise in per day
· Stretch During Commercial Breaks
· Go for a Run
· Plant a Garden
· Walk the Parking Lot
· Swap Your Car for a Bike
· Try a Fitness Tracker
· Cook at home; eating out, especially fast food, can add lots of calories to your daily intake
· When you do eat out, ask for a “doggy” bag before you start eating and split the portion in half
In conclusion, enjoy healthy food choices each day and exercise at least 30 minutes per day to keep your energy up and weight down.
Gary Secino has been healthcare for more than 20 years. He was registered with the American Dietetic Association and worked both in an inpatient and outpatient setting with cardiac patients, diabetics and weight control patients. He taught Slim for Life, an American Heart Association weight loss program. He has several years’ experience as a personal trainer in a private gym. Gary has a BS degree in nutrition with a minor in exercise science. Gary’s life partner is Bruce Romero who has been in the 911 field for 32 years.
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