The work performed in saving lives is the utmost reward in the public safety sector. Unfortunately, it does come at a personal cost. Irregular hours and over time work can consume a public safety professional’s life and ultimately take a toll on the mental and physical performance while on duty. Consuming on-the-go meals for a quick fix, sleep deprivation and working marathon shifts cause difficulties for living a healthy life. To combat these struggles, professionals can take the best course of action by planning through a special report, “Does Diet Impact Fire/EMS Performance and Outcomes?”
Jamie Pospisil, Captain of Lincoln Fire and Rescue, says, “Prepare for each shift by planning for meals in advance. Along with that, pack a cooler with healthy snacks so when you are on back-back-to-back incidents you don’t make poor decisions during a period of hunger.” Finding a balanced schedule of food prepping and planning can help reduce the impulse decisions of eating unhealthily while working rigorous shifts.
When planning ahead and shopping, Pospisil recommends finding items from the perimeter of the grocery store. In doing so, public safety professionals can choose a multitude of healthy food options like fish, chicken breasts, nut mixes, seeds, fresh vegetables and low carb fruits. By eating healthier, public safety professionals can notice a difference in daily routines listed below thanks to the research of Pospisil and her associates.
- Enhanced muscle recovery after training sessions.
- Improved capacity to burn fat as fuel.
- Improved LDL/HDL triglyceride profiles Improved blood sugar regulation, and with consistently high energy levels.
- Improved cognitive function.
- Better sleep—which equals a powerful release of natural growth.
- Improved regulation of hormones and testosterone.
- Better mood.
Changing these shopping habits alone will help boost productivity and help keep public safety professionals sharp and alert while on-the-job. It may not be an easy transition at first, but proactive planning and repetitive behavior will help combat the unhealthy eating habits that everyone easily falls for while working long-lasting shifts.
To maintain and improve brain health, Pospisil and associates say, “Other memory boosting foods include oil-based salad dressings, avocado, dark-green vegetables, fish, peanuts and peanut butter. Even a glass of red wine has been proven to be beneficial to memory.” By simplifying one’s diet to healthier options, public safety professionals can feel mentally better and avoid crashing while on-the-job. Remember, a glass of red wine may be good for memory as research suggests, but it is recommended to be consumed off-the-clock for obvious reasons.
Also, though caffeine seems like a must in the industry, too much caffeine can be harmful in the long run and may cause problematic performance. According to the report, it says “Experts agree up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is not harmful. But remember that one cup of coffee contains between 90 and 200 mg of caffeine. Furthermore, energy drinks vary from 80 mg up to 250 mg per serving with a dose of refined sugar to boot (“Caffeine,” 2018).” Remember to stay cautious of caffeine intake because it can have a harmful impact on the body when consumed in excess.
Bedtime habits usually include brushing one’s teeth or grabbing a glass of water for the bedside but consuming the correct minerals can improve sleeping habits. That’s right!- Minerals. Pospisil and associates say, “Finally minerals are also important for proper sleep. Magnesium and potassium help in relaxing muscles thus leading to improved sleep. To ensure you are getting enough magnesium and potassium, include whole grains such as brown rice, beans and lentils.” Recommending mineral intakes may seem a bit strange to think about, but public safety professionals know the right medicines to administer for patients, and its time to think about it personally. According to the study, other foods that will raise potassium and magnesium levels include spinach, bananas, melons, berries, squash, cauliflower, and potatoes.
Lastly, eating the wrong foods can build a toxicity in the body and raising awareness of the foods to avoid can help fight against unhealthy eating habits. Food and substances to be avoided as little as possible are listed below:
- Processed foods containing additives and preservatives
- Artificial sweeteners and corn syrup
- Hydrogenated vegetable oil
- Red meats, sugar, salt, caffeine, and nicotine
- Refined or non-whole grain products
Planning ahead and being well-informed on eating habits will save your life while saving other people’s lives every day. It is a challenge necessary to compete with the unknown risks and costs that few talk about when maintaining one’s health for peak performance. Thanks to Jamie Pospisil and her associates, educating and providing proactive measures to staying healthy is the first step in improving performance while on-the-job. Following a few of these practices is the best medicine in saving one’s life from the modern diet. For more information, follow the link below for more tips and tricks to leading a healthier life.
Find the full report and works cited here: