5 Ways to Prepare Healthier Firehouse Meals

and-a-diet-coke-memeRecent studies show that despite all those sexy calendars, 73% of all firemen are overweight or, even, obese.  And, just like any person who is obese that increases health risks.  On duty deaths by heart attack account for 45% of deaths on duty.  Here are 5 ways to make your firehouse meals healthier and help keep everyone’s weight in check.

My firehouse has actively tried to eat healthier over the last 6 years. We don’t always succeed, and when others travel to our station they often ask if we are eating salad for lunch. At least we are trying!

5 Ways to Prepare Healthier Firehouse Meals

When you count on your fellow firemen during an incident, you want them to be fit.  Do the meals that you serve in the firehouse, add to fitness or are they more likely to add to your fellow firefighters’ weight?  Here are 5 ways to prepare healthier meals.

  1. Know the fat. Don’t just go quick and cheap, take the time to know what’s in the food you’re cooking.  You should aim for meals were only 30% of the calories come from fat and only 7% or less come from unhealthy fats like saturated fat.  Exchange high-fat ingredients for lower fat items.  For example, which from whole milk to skim milk.  Select lower fat cuts of meat like 94% to 97% lean ground beef.
  2. More fruit and veggies. Just like your Mom told you! The goal set by the United States Department of Agriculture is 2 cups of fruit and 2 and a half cups of vegetables every day.  Fruits and vegies will help fill up your crew without adding a lot of calories, plus they’re high in fiber.  Look for a mix of colors and varieties to add different flavors and nutrients to the meals.
  3. Whole grains. You want to serve each firefighter at least 6 ounces of grain with 3 ounces coming from whole grains each day. That’s the USDA recommendation.  Whole grains include great tastes like oatmeal for breakfast or adding quinoa to roasting chicken.
  4. Remember, that they are treats.  Keep the cookies, pies and ice cream for special occasions.  They don’t need to be – and shouldn’t be – served daily.  They add big helpings of sugar and calories without many nutritional benefits.  Save them for occasional servings and those special occasions.  Think fruit as a great finish to a meal.
  5. Drinks can be sneaky.  Many people don’t pay attention to what they drink but some drinks – like all those fizzy, sweet ones – can add hundreds of calories to a person’s daily intake.  Water is always great.  It helps a person feel full and keeps them well hydrated.  Add a pitcher of ice water to the table!

You’re a tight crew that lives together part of the time, eats together and faces the hardest jobs together.  There are 3 things you should always keep in shape: Your firefighting equipment, your body and your crew.