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Tis’ the season of family, giving thanks, and of course food! These next few months are an exciting, but can be a stressful time for first responders. Stress and lack of sleep, combined with tons of treats, can lead to overeating. Restricting too much often exacerbates over-indulging.
Incorporating some of your favorite treats can prevent some of the overindulging. Aim to eat well 70-80% of the time, then enjoy your favorite holiday foods 20-30% of the time. To prevent stuffing yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey, try some of these tips at the station and at home.
At the Station
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Typically, your first due community is extra thankful this time of year. Instead of letting treats pile up on the counter and table, store them away in a cabinet. That way, treats are still an option without tempting you every time you get back from a call.
Bring Something to Share
If your shift has limited healthy options, bring your own with some to share. Try a new seasonal salad, a veggie-based side, or some fresh fruit for the table.
Watch the Sugary Holiday Coffees
Holiday coffees can be a fun, limited-time treat! With a standard pumpkin spice latte ringing in at over 400 calories, these treats can add up fast. If you enjoy a holiday drink regularly, consider asking for lower-fat milk and half of the usual pumps of syrup.
Move Every Shift
Sure, a more intense workout would be great if you’re up for it! Some movement is always better than none. Walk on the treadmill or foam roll when possible, especially if you’re feeling stressed.
Eat a Snack BEFORE the Party
You forgot to eat lunch, and next thing you know, you’ve eaten half the buffet table. Have an apple, cheese stick, low sodium jerky, a salad, or other small meal/snack before heading to a holiday party and stand across the room from the treat table when possible. Skipping breakfast or lunch may seem like a good idea, but it often leads to overeating and discomfort after the party.
Keep the Alcohol in Check
If you have a tendency to drink a little more around the holidays, make a habit of alternating with water or a mocktail. Choose diet soda or lighter mixers when possible. This will save you calories and a hangover the next morning! Consider serving a hydrating mocktail or seasonal infused water with rosemary, cranberries, or orange.
Focus on Protein and a Plant
When possible, base your plate on a lean protein and a plant (veggies or fruit). High protein foods include chicken, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, and soy. Most parties lack veggies and leaner proteins. If you have an event in the evening, front-load your veggies and protein early in the day. This will help prevent overeating at the party, while still covering your nutrient needs.
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.