I was recently contacted by a firefighter who is trying to make a change in the way he eats. He has already implemented a fitness plan using 555 Fitness workouts but is struggling with the nutrition part of it and reached out in hopes that I could steer him in the right direction. But I realized he is probably not the only one having difficulty with eating healthier at home and in the firehouse. So my goal here is to share my own experiences and how they have made it possible to get on the road to a better me, with the hopes that it can help all of you with your goals......
The first thing that probably comes to mind is where to start:
- Do not view it as "starting a diet". From my experiences this will put a lot of pressure on yourself to stick to one particular way of eating, which I am not a fan of. Rather look at it from the perspective of "I am making a change in the way I approach food".
-Eat clean, yup that's how I would describe the way I eat everyday. It is short but sweet and gets to the point. I avoid as much processed foods as possible such as canned foods, pre-made salad dressings, flavored yogurts, and sauces. Buying fresh produce, making your own dressings and adding your own toppings to yogurt will help avoid any unnecessary sugars, salts and preservatives.
-Carbs!....I feel like most people I speak to about their diet say they plan on eliminating carbs completely. I feel this is a BAD place to start. We need carbs for energy, especially as firefighters when our bodies will be required to perform under extreme conditions. But the true question is where do you get the carbs from...
I avoid breads and pasta as much as possible, look at these as empty carbs. They provide next to nothing for us, instead lets look for potatoes, rice, beans and those popular ancient grains such as quinoa.
-The Paleo diet, which I am sure you have heard of, is great in my opinion. But like I stated earlier I do not like the idea of following one very specific "diet". So instead I use the Paleo diet as a guideline, especially when shopping for food. Look up the "requirements" for eating Paleo and most of it makes sense, but I also like beans and rice and do not have sea salt in my back pocket at all times so thats where I draw the line.So let's just say I eat Paleo-ish..
-The way you shop can have the biggest difference in how you eat. Think of it like this, if it is not in your kitchen you can't eat it! So the next time you shop for groceries, head straight to the produce section and load up on fresh vegetables and fruits, both of which can be used as snacks and not just a side dish. Unless you need broth or beans, try and stay away from the canned food section. Even still, there are more companies offering low/no sodium, low/no fat broths, read the labels. Do not even step into the bread aisle, even that whole wheat bread you have been buying contains a ton of crap such as sugar.
I hope this helps you get on the path to healthier eating. It is all about taking control of how you shop and prepare food and sticking with it. Stay tuned for next week's edition where I will discuss how to go about changing the food "climate" in the firehouse.....
until then STAY SAFE, EAT WELL!