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Eating healthy while deployed

Posted 2/20/2009   Updated 2/20/2009 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Brok McCarthy
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/20/2009 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Many Airmen come here on their deployments in the hopes that when they return home, they will be a little skinner than when they left. 

One of the problems some of them run into is not eating right when they are in the dining facilities. 

"Eating right is probably the most important thing people can do if they are trying to lose weight," said Chris Tyler, 379th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron fitness manager. "They can come into the gym and lift all day and then go to the (dining facility) and eat the wrong way and it's like they didn't do anything when they went to the gym. It totally negates what they are trying to do." 

Eating correctly in the dining facility can be more difficult than it sounds.
The government hires nutritionists to come up with a menu to keep people from losing weight due to the stress of a deployment, he said. During each meal there are many good and bad choices a person can make. 

For breakfast, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, oatmeal and low sugar cereals are the best choices. Things to stay away from are the high sugar cereals, waffles, French toast sticks, and biscuits and gravy. 

For lunch and dinner, grilled and chopped chicken breast, tuna salads, sandwich wraps and fish that isn't breaded should be selected. 

Mr. Tyler noted that the chicken breast contains some rib meat, so it's not quite as healthy as pure chicken breast, like what people can purchase from the grocery store at home. 

Vegetables are also a great choice, however, people should lean toward getting things from the salad bar. Many of the vegetables on the main food line come from cans and contain preservatives and higher levels of sodium, he said. 

"For lunch and dinner, avoid the short-order line, the only health thing there is the chicken breast or the chopped chicken," Mr. Tyler said. "On the main line, try to stay clear of anything with a sauce on it. Also stay away from things that are loaded up with sugar, like sodas, ice-cream and the fruit juices." 

Snacks should be small, like a piece of fruit he said. In all, people who are trying to lose weight should eat at least four or five small meals every day. 

Almost as difficult as eating the right things is eating the right amount of things, he said.
"The dining facility employees know when they put a lot of food on your plate, you smile, and that's what they want because they are in their customer-service mode" Mr. Tyler said. "So a ladle that was meant for one cup will become a cup and half because it's over flowing." 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which controls the www.MyPyramid.com Web site, a serving size for the various types of foods are:
Fruit: Half a cup
Vegetables: Half a cup
Grains: One ounce
Meats: 5.5 ounces
Milk: One cup, or 8 ounces
Oils: One teaspoon 

Mr. Tyler said people's bodies are good about letting them know when they no longer need food; however, it's common for people to confuse the signals for being hungry with the signals for being thirsty. 

"People not drinking enough water is one of the biggest problems here," he said. "About 90 percent of the time, people mistake being thirsty for being hungry and reach for a snack." 

Everyone should be taking in at least one gallon of water every day, which is eight half liter water bottles, he said. By drinking that much water most individuals will be less likely to snack throughout the day. 

Other tips Mr. Tyler has for losing weight are drinking a bottle of water on the way to the dinning facility. This will cause the body to produce the chemical lepton sooner, which is responsible for letting the body know that enough food has been ingested. 

He also recommended putting down silverware in between every bite, which will force a person to spend longer eating. Once the hunger feelings have gone away, a person should take one more bite and immediately put their tray away, even if they stay at the table, so they aren't tempted to eat out of boredom while they wait for friends. 

"You should try to eat at least every two to three hours," Mr. Tyler said. "The worst thing you can do when you're trying to lose weight is to skip meals."

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