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If Soldiers and Families plan their meals, Fort Benning nutrition experts say healthier lifestyle goals will be easier to reach.
1st Lt. Amanda Vaughan, a clinical dietitian for Martin Army Community Hospital, said unhealthy eating patterns mixed with poor sleep and lack of activity are habits that the Army encourages individuals and Families to change through the Performance Triad program.
Studies show that people who get less than seven hours of sleep weigh more, have more health problems and do not perform at their physical peak, she said.
Vaughan meets with patients to discuss food patterns and activity levels before helping them to set and reach attainable goals. A balanced diet including five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, lean proteins and water will improve nutrition and energy levels, she said.
A lot of people will choose to drink coffee or energy drinks and nothing else, so we emphasize that everyone needs about two liters of water a day, Vaughan said. Your body does not operate at peak performance if you dont drink enough water.
Vaughan said every member of the Family should be a part of meal planning and preparation. Online tools such as ChooseMyPlate.gov and the Human Performance Resource Center also offer information and a variety of daily food plans.
When one person plays the majority of that role, we need to make sure that person is educated as far as what kind of meal planning and shopping will be necessary for the entire Family, Vaughan said. When kids help prepare meals, they learn healthy habits, are more willing to try new foods and are more involved in the process and everyones needs will be met.
Karen Linden and her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Mark Linden, decided to incorporate meal planning after her cancer diagnosis and his high blood pressure and heart complications. Now cancer-free, Karen said she helps other Families reach their goals through her nutrition life coach business, Fresh Start is Now.
Every Sunday, I make a plan for the whole week of what Im going to eat for the whole day, so theres no chance for me to cheat, she said. We completely changed things, so we do not have candy or sugary food in our house and we buy a lot of fruits and vegetables. If you dont have a plan, you will want to go directly to fast food or junk food because its easier and quicker.
To give Families a glimpse of healthy eating options, Army Community Service will partner with the Exceptional Family Member Program and Martin Army Community Hospital to host the Taste the Greatness program at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 20, located at Building 7 on Baltzell Avenue. The program will include several options that follow Paleo, gluten-free, diabetic and green smoothie guidelines. Attendees can sample a variety of healthy recipes, speak with an on-site dietician and take home pamphlets of the recipes provided.
Most people want to be healthier in the choices they make, but some associate healthy eating with things that are not very tasteful, said ACS outreach program coordinator Nicole Heller. The goal for Taste the Greatness is to find recipes that actually taste good but fall under healthy parameters.
EFMP will provide information on available resources for EFMP clients who benefit from dietary changes. For more information, call Heller at 706-545-6971.
Editors note: This is the second article in a series on three essential components of the Armys Performance Triad for health and wellness sleep, nutrition and activity. To learn more about the Performance Triad, visit www.armymedicine.mil.