“Better Performance Through Nutrition”

Monday was a busy but fun day.

First I was at my internship. I am in the middle of planning my Theme Day for Glenwood (more on that  later), so I had a long day of prep work and organization before the actual day (April 24th).

After work I got to give a presentation to the men (and woman) of the Monroe Fire Department. For my graduate class, which is about work-site wellness, a group of us instilled a nutrition education program with the fire department. I do not remember if I talked about this earlier but a few weeks back we actually got a tour of the of the firehouse and got to sit in the firetruck and learn about all the bells in whistles. The guys even let me try on their suit and jog around in it to see how heavy it was.

Yep...this happened.

Yep…this happened.

We kind of a got a feel for the lifestyle of a fireman and then found out what some things they wanted to know more about. We decided to do a nutrition presentation centered around the work the firemen do and what they put their body through daily, hence our program title “Better Performance through Nutrition”. The four of us each talked about a particular aspect and then made a corresponding handout/recipes that correlated with our section, so that way they could keep copies of them and give them out to others who maybe couldn’t come to our presentation.

The first section talking about what a diet actually is and how the lifestyle of a fireman affects their diet and vice versa. It is so important that these individuals eat a well balanced diet because they do put their body through so much. Also, with inhaling smoke and sometimes being forced to eat food out on the road when going from job to job, it is important that they eat the right stuff so they are not putting themselves at risk for heart disease, obesity and cancer.  They have enough stuff going against them, they don’t need their diet to be one of them. We emphaized that these individuals stay on a heart healthy diet, which is low in saturated fat and sodium and high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and mono and polyunsaturated fats

The second portion was a break down of the five main food groups. What items make up the various food groups were discussed, as were the nutrients food in those food groups, what counts as a proper serving and what that serving looks like in real life terms. (Like 3 ounces of fish is about the size of a deck of cards or 1 1/2 ounces of cheese is about 3 dice). The Paleo Diet was also touched upon, because not only is it a fairly popular diet right now, but lots of the firemen have been know to be on it. As said in the presentation, the Paleo Diet is great because it encourages high fruits and vegetable intake, but a negative is that you are often consuming higher levels of saturated fat, which can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease.

The third part of the presentation touched on the importance of hydration and how being hydrated can help them function. One fireman told me that during the summer months in Louisiana, the can literally pour sweat out of their boots. This is all water that they need to be replenishing. For the normal male and female, we need about 3 liters and 2 liters, respectively. We determined that for these firemen, for ever hour of exercise (or firefighting  they do, they need to basically double what they drink. So on a slow day where maybe they just work out for an hour, they now have to drink 6 liters. But, throw in a 2 hour time span where they are actively fighting fire on top of that, you can see how easily they can get dehydrated and how important it is that they drink water and/or sports drinks.I can barely get the two liters I need to get by (I get my water through coffee…ha).

I wrapped this whole bad boy up with applying all of the techniques and information that was talked about prior to an actual lifestyle and how they can use this knowledge when cooking food or grocery shopping (Read this previous post, where I talked about similar things)I gave a list on what some of the heart healthiest foods are (yogurt, nuts, green tea, salmon, wine (score!), pomegranates and bananas…just to name a few). I then went into healthier ways of cooking. For some reason, people in the south think the only way to cook something is to throw it in a deep fryer?! Weird. I discussed omega 3-fatty acids and the benefits to them, as well as where they could be found. I informed them of what good oils and bad oils are and a nice little trick to remember. The more liquid a fat is at room temperature, the healthier it is for you. So, your Crisco Tub of Lard hydrogenated shortening oil (yuck!) is way worse for you than your spreadable margarine, but your canola oil is going to be better than your spreadable margarine. Think Crisco –>Stick Butter –> Spreadable tube Margarine –> Canola/Olive Oil. To wrap up, I talked about salt, alternatives to salt (Remember this?!) and hydration. Drinks like coffee, soda and alcohol are fine in moderation, but you need to make sure you drink water with them, because they can dehydrate you. Make sure you replenish! Your urine will be the easiest way to tell. You want the color of water or lemonade, not apple juice.

Overall I thought it went very well. Some of the guys were even taking notes and asking questions. They seemed very receptive of the information and where very thankful for the talk. But really, the pleasure was all mine. Not only am I know halfway done with my end of the class project, but I got to stand in front of a room full of firemen. FULL. OF. FIREMEN! pretty much a girls dream (one of many). It was a good time, and definitely a different experience. I learned a new side of firemen. Who knew that there was more to it than sliding down poles and cruising in a red truck?!

XOXO, Danae

24 days until Graduation

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