In the second Thin Line Fitness article, we’re going to talk about what to eat (and not to eat) while on shift. Though this may come across as common sense, you’ll see throughout your endeavors as a Firefighter, LEO, or EMS provider, that it is not that common.
First, we need to start by saying that we know every body, and everybody, is different. The 200 pound beefcake on shift who works out every day will not have the same nutritional need as the 250 pound ambulance driver trying to drop to 200 pounds. These are just general tips and advice to start and continue healthy eating and snacking while on shift.
Nuts: These tasty bite sized snacks are a go-to already for a lot of us. Not only are they high in protein, but also contain the healthy fats our bodies need. I’m not saying to go buy a half pound of almonds and eat the entire thing in one day. That would not be good. But by following the serving sizes and snacking on them in moderation, especially almonds and pistachios, you will find yourself more full and satisfied than after eating that Little Debbie snack cake.
Lunch: This can be the hardest meal to prep for, especially while riding an ambulance or on patrol, but it isn’t as difficult as you may think. A good lunch box and large ice pack cost less than $20. The time it takes to cook three or four chicken breasts and boil brown rice and vegetable is less than an hour. Do you see where we’re going with this? THERE IS NO EXCUSE. You can easily prep you healthy, balanced mid-shift meal. You will feel much better eating this than you will a fast food drive-thru special. Take the time and prepare right.
Snacks: This could be the hardest urge to push out of your head. The Snickers bar, bags of chips, and cookies always look a lot more attractive than the salad or Greek yogurt. But this is just as pivotal as your meals since these are what you will go to when you get bored. Just make sure it is two or three hours after your lunch. Nuts (referenced above) can also be used as a snack. But just as anything else they can become boring. Which is why we recommend Oikos Triple Zero Greek Nonfat Yogurt. Or if you are feeling adventurous you can mix a cup of plain (unflavored) Greek yogurt, mix in one tablespoon of honey, and two tablespoons of powdered peanut butter. That, personally, is my favorite. Just remember to always snack smart. Stay away from the processed crap. No candy. No empty carbs. Just great, healthy alternatives.
Drinks: Other than coffee, which we are all guilty of drinking way too much of, what are the other liquids that come to mind while on shift? If anything other than water comes to mind, that needs to change. A larger water bottle like a Nalgene or Hydroflask can hold sufficient water with refills throughout the day. Not only is water free and accessible, but it is beneficial in keeping you well hydrated, especially while hitting the gym. Water also keeps you occupied with that subtle reminder every time you see the bottle; “I should take a sip or two”. Soda, on the other hand, does not hydrate. And it also adds an astronomical number of unnecessary carbs to your daily intake.
We hope this short article has put some insight on what is needed to make a healthy change while on the go at work. As you can tell, none of these things are hard to do. The challenge is actually MAKING the change, doing it, and sticking with it. Once that is done, and you combine healthy eating with the workout tips we offer, or you contact us for a personalized workout and diet plan, you will be on your path to a better you, making your service to your community better, and your life better.
For more information or questions contact us at ThinLineFit@gmail.com and visit our Facebook page.
Ian is a professional fireman, a Veteran Air Force Firefighter, and a Certified Personal Trainer with ten years in the fire service. His passion for physical fitness has led him to begin Thin Line Fitness.