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Firefighters are no strangers to stress – sometimes, that stress can lead to a “snaccident” (snack accident). Sometimes, having something sweet after a bad call is what your soul needs, which is okay! But did you know your diet can improve your mood and resilience to stress?
Evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet is a great protocol to start if you want to improve your mood and overall health! Studies support that those who follow a Mediterranean diet reported a reduction in depressive symptoms and notable improvements in overall mental health1.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Healthy fats, like olive oil, are also a diet staple. The main foods eaten in moderation are red meat and sweets. In addition to mood, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers1. It is also known for being delicious and sustainable; consistency is key to long-term success on any diet.
Certain nutrients can also improve mood – but note the best benefit is consuming these nutrients from food over supplements. Food will contain added vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, antioxidants, and more.
AKA emotional or stress eating – we all do it (even dietitians)! Here are some questions to ask yourself to prevent a future binge:
If stress binges are happening multiple times a month and you feel like you have lost control, it may be time to check in with a therapist. Therapy can help you develop better-coping strategies and work through some of the emotions that lead to stress eating. In the meantime, try incorporating some of these coping strategies:
Remember, being patient and kind to yourself is important as you develop new coping strategies. With time and practice, you can learn to manage your emotions and improve your relationship with food.
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.