Healthy Eating Habits for EMS Workers
Now that Thanksgiving is over, it might be a good time to introduce some new habits. Consuming nutritious food can be costly in more ways than one, but it’s so critical for your body, your mind, and your abilities. This is particularly true for EMS workers!
We’re going to delve into some healthy habits and snacks that just might help you live your best life. These tips were taken from an article by Jackie Mac Allister at EMS World. Mac Allister is a certified personal trainer and weight management consultant, so she can provide us with some great insight in her article, “An EMS Guide to Eating on the Go.”
Here are some of her valuable tips!
The Importance of Breakfast
Some people believe that breakfast—or the absence of it—can dictate how you’ll feel the rest of the day. According to Mac Allister, “After what was hopefully a restful night’s sleep, your body is running on empty and needs some fuel to start the day. If you don’t replenish your protein stores first thing in the morning, your body may start using muscle tissue for energy.”
Interestingly, Mac Allister also cites a study by an EMS agency that examined the time of day ambulance collisions most frequently occur. The study revealed a significant spike between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., and again around 5 p.m. As stated by Mac Allister, “These are times of the day when more cars tend to be on the road. But if you look at shift work, these are also times when fatigue sets in.”
To help combat fatigue, try adding protein and fat to your carbs. For instance, you could have two hard boiled eggs, fruit with a small portion of cheese, a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter or cream cheese, or low-fat yogurt with high-fiber cereal. In a pinch, peanut butter and jelly on whole-grain bread will work too!
How to Read Food Labels
It can be downright confusing to try and read food labels. This is especially true when you come across labels packed with ingredients; if you can’t recognize several of these ingredients, you may want to reconsider eating it! Mac Allister provides us with a quick n’ easy way to determine whether or not you should probably eat a particular item.
The first areas to take note of are the serving size, the total calories, and the calories from fat. Here’s a good rule of thumb from Mac Allister: It’s usually a good choice when the calories from fat don’t exceed one-third of the total calories. The second areas to assess are dietary fiber, sugar, and protein.
When it comes to fiber, the average person will likely need at least 3 grams per serving. However, with sugar, less is (regrettably) better. If you can, try not to exceed 10 grams per serving. While protein levels are dependent on your activity level, Mac Allister notes that general recommendations are “roughly 1.1 grams per 1 lb. of body weight.”
Some Healthy Snack Ideas
Let’s get back to snacking! So, what are some good staples to pack for work? Check out these ideas from EMS World…
+ Vegetables (pair with hummus or peanut butter to add protein)
+ Nuts and seeds (pair with dark chocolate for a sweet-savory snack)
+ Dehydrated fruit and vegetables
+ Low-fat dairy (use cold packs to carry low-fat yogurt or skim milk with you)
+ Whole grain cereal, crackers, or bread
+ Lots and lots of water
+ Extras: Rice cakes with peanut butter, hummus or low-fat cheese. Some meal replacement bars are excellent choices, too, but don’t forget to read the label and check the sugar content.
We think Mac Allister says it best:
“By following a healthy diet, you not only make the best choices for your body, but all those around you will benefit. Once you clean your diet of over-processed junk, you’ll feel better, sleep better, even look better. Your mood will improve, which will make your patients and partners feel better, too, and perhaps learn by your example.
The above examples are just some suggestions that show how easy it is to stock up on healthy, satisfying snacks. Read up on nutrition. The more you know, the more you’ll want to implement better choices in your diet.”
An Overview of Unitek EMT
If you’re not familiar with us, Unitek EMT strives to prepare aspiring Emergency Medical Technicians by providing them with an accelerated EMT program. Seasoned professionals educate our students through a combination of traditional learning, simulation training, and workshop-style classes.
Additionally, we offer a program with several variations to better accommodate our students. These include a 14-Day Boot Camp1 and an Expanded Online Hybrid at our Fremont Campus in Northern California. We also offer a modified version of the Boot Camp at our facility in Chandler, Arizona.
If you’d like more information, please contact us toll free at 888-790-1458!
1 Our 14-Day EMT Program in AZ and the 14-Day on-ground portion of the EMT Program in CA are taught in an intensive “boot camp” style, to simulate the fast pace of work expected on the job as an EMT. The California EMT Program also includes online instructional hours.