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A busy shift, a fight with a friend, or voluntary overtime often has firefighters reaching for something salty or sweet to calm their nerves. Regular stress eating can derail a weight loss goal and often make the person feel worse about their situation. While not every stress eating incidence is avoidable, it may be possible to delay overeating with the following tips.
Stress Free Eating
For those who come home or back from a call ravenous, consider evaluating your food choices and quantity before you walk in the door. Did you eat enough for breakfast and lunch? Did you reach 3/4th of your fiber and protein goals before dinner? When home, you may need a substantial snack between lunch and dinner if your schedule prevents you from eating dinner at a reasonable hour. At the station, you might have to pack a few healthy options on your assigned unit to prevent getting too hungry between meals. Protein bars, fig/Clif bars, applesauce pouches, nuts/seeds are all great options to have on hand.
If you ever feel a complete loss of control when stress eating, you may want to consider talking to a behavioral health therapist. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and ADHD can all impact healthy eating habits. A therapist will help you get to the root of the problem and provide behavioral techniques to help you cope with life’s challenges. Sometimes just having someone listen can be therapeutic. Talk to your primary care physician or call your county’s EAP program for counseling recommendations in your area.
Megan Lautz, MS, RD, CSCS, TSAC-F
Megan is a Registered Dietitian and coach who specializes in firefighter nutrition. Megan’s mission is to help firefighters perform better, recover faster, and enjoy long healthy retirements. Megan is the owner of RescueRD LLC, which provides nutrition seminars and coaching for tactical athletes across the country. Check out @Rescue.RD on Facebook and Instagram.