Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. --
Crossfit, high intensity interval training, pilates, yoga, boxing, triathlon, walking, field training – when the body moves it requires proper nutrition.
March is named National Nutrition Month by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and this year’s theme is Go Further with Food.
Gabriella Darrow, 341st Medical Group registered dietician and licensed nutritionist, works in Malmstrom’s office of health promotions where their team offers individual nutrition consults, and health and lifestyle classes.
The office coaches in tobacco cessation, analyzes body mechanics and gait movement and has a Bod Pod – a machine that measure body fat and lean muscle mass. Their team includes a behavioral specialist who helps chronic dieters, or people with illness, work through barriers for eating healthy.
When Darrow talks about diets, she doesn’t mean a fad diet that is the new quick, weight-loss plan. By diet she means sustainability in food – something that’s not too complicated – that includes exercise and becomes a way of life.
“Sustainability in food means you can see yourself eating and exercising in a healthy way 20 years from now,” Darrow said. “When you think of healthy eating you think portion control, you think of mixing up the food groups and you thinking of matching it with physical activity.”
The fad diets may go along with some of the fad workouts, but people should be cautious, Darrow said.
“As soon as you say carbs are bad or fats are bad, you’re missing out on key nutrients. The ketogenic diet, for example, has a lot of gaps in getting proper vitamins and minerals,” she said. “Supplements do not usually take the place of proper nutrition.”
Quick food tips
“Three big meals or several small meals a day? It’s all individual,” Darrow said. “I’ve had patients who do better with snacking and small meals, and patients who thrive on three meals.”
Darrow believes in intuitive eating where people become mindful about when and what they are consuming.
“Foods should be energizing us, and we should stop eating when we feel full. When you really think about the food you’re eating and how it makes your body feel, check to see if you are biologically hungry, or if you’re just bored,” Darrow said.
For any diet, Darrow recommends whole fruits and vegetables, and whole grains that aren’t wheat, like quinoa and millet.
“The less ingredients there are, the better off you are,” she said.
Of frozen, fresh or canned food, healthiest would be ordered: fresh first, frozen second, canned last, Darrow said.
“Practice food safety conditions. Wash utensils and wash hands to prevent germ cross-contamination,” she said. “With leftovers, eat them before three days. Anything that needs refrigeration shouldn’t sit out for more than four hours.”
In regards to fast food, Darrow said there’s a difference between eating fast food or convenient food. She recommends trying to stay away from fast food or processed food, and encourages meal prep.
Special nutrition advice
“Most people can benefit from fish and fish oil supplementation,” Darrow said.
She also advocates eating plant-based food more often, perhaps dedicating at least one day to being meatless.
“A lot of fatty acids we consume are pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is known to cause many serious diseases,” she said.
Supporting the immune system is key to health, too, she said.
“Autoimmune diseases can often be prevented by the right kind of Vitamin D, which can be absorbed by the body at a certain time of day, but a lot of people are sun sensitive or wear sunscreen, which prevents absorption,” Darrow said. “For this I would suggest a daily supplement.”
For women who are pregnant, Darrow recommends eating a well-balanced meal “like you would being not pregnant.”
“Usually the mentality is ‘I’m eating for two,’ but there is a misinterpretation the baby will get the nutrition it needs first,” Darrow said. “Actually the mom’s body will take what it needs, and then the baby takes what it needs. It also doesn’t mean you double up on everything.”
“Exercise is important, too, but check first with your ob-gyn,” she said.
One of Darrow’s last special nutrition tips is not to self-diagnose food sensitivities, like deciding to be gluten-free.
“They only way you can really know is by getting tested,” she said.
Malmstrom works to bring people food choices
According to 341st MDG health promotions office, prevention of injury or illness means eating right, keeping the right weight for your body to feel good and exercising the right way for your body.
But, with busy work and life schedules, and the need for readily available food, it’s not always easy to eat healthy and exercise.
The dining facility on base has recently closed and is under construction, so it may seem that adds an additional challenge to making good food choices at Malmstrom.
But 341st Missile Wing leadership and the 341st Force Support Squadron are working together so people have additional food options.
The Grizzly Bend has started offering lunches 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“With this addition, you have a place on base where you can leave work behind and sit down for lunch and conversation with a co-worker, family member or base teammate where you will find a new value-added and respectful service on base,” said Col. Peter Bonetti, 341st MW vice commander.
Additionally, the 341st MDG health promotions office has been looking at vending machines around the base to see if healthier eating choices can be found there.
“Hopefully this will happen in the very near future,” Darrow said.