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Eating abroad

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Food safety, Travel
Learn how to practice food safety and avoid illness—whether you’re preparing for an overseas deployment, PCS move, humanitarian aid mission, or vacation.

Eating in an unfamiliar culture can be adventurous but sometimes daunting, especially if you’re unprepared. You’ll find foods that are surprisingly familiar, such as sauces, soups, and pastas. However, the spices might be different. You’ll also find foods that are quite different from your usual fare. Keep familiar favorites in your meal plan while you enjoy the variety of special foods each culture has to offer.

You might have concerns about food and beverage safety in some locations, so heed the training you receive for specific areas. To maintain operational readiness and prevent gastrointestinal distress, pay close attention to what you eat and drink. You’re at risk of foodborne illnesses if you consume food or drinks containing certain bacteria, parasites, viruses, and toxins. Still, there are ways to stay well.

  • Eat only cooked produce that’s served hot. Wash all fruits with treated water and peel them yourself. Avoid salads, raw fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized juices.
  • Eat thoroughly cooked meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Avoid foods served from food carts unless they’re cooked in front of you.
  • Enjoy pasteurized dairy products and hard cheeses. Avoid soft cheeses and unpasteurized yogurt.
  • Choose foods with little moisture, such as bread and crackers. Packaged dry foods are generally considered safe.
  • Drink beverages that are bottled and sealed. Check the seals because some merchants might fill empty bottles with tap water and reseal the caps with glue. Boil tap water for at least 3 minutes before making tea or coffee. And serve it steaming hot. Avoid ice too.

There might be times when you’re an invited guest, so you’ll be expected to eat what’s served. Be mindful of local eating customs, so that you’re respectful and safe while enjoying your meal.

By keeping these tips in mind, you should be able to thrive in your new locale and return home with great eating adventures to tell.

Raise healthy eaters—Part 2: Age-specific tips

Part 2 of HPRC’s “healthy eater” series explores age-specific tips to get your kids to eat healthy.

Children need guidance from their parents about eating a well-balanced diet. As they grow, your interactions with them around food will change. They’ll take on more responsibility for feeding themselves too. Still, you’ll continue to influence their eating preferences through the foods you prepare and offer to them. Read on for age-specific tips to encourage your kids’ healthy eating too. And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to read Part 1 about general nutrition tips for helping your children learn how to be “healthy eaters” at all ages. Read more...

Raise healthy eaters—Part 1: For kids 2–18

It’s important to teach children about acceptable eating behaviors and how to control their eating impulses. In this two-part series, HPRC offers tips to help your kids eat healthy.

How you approach feeding your children influences their food choices, the amount they eat, and their weight. While it’s important for kids to maintain a healthy weight, it’s also helpful for them to determine when they’re hungry and when they’re full.

Insisting kids eat more after they say they’re full can interfere with their ability to learn what “being full” really feels like. Trust that your child’s brain is sending signals back and forth to his or her belly, indicating “full.” And if children are offered a selection of generally healthy foods, they’ll eat the right amount and grow healthy. Read the rest of this article for specific tips you can use to help your own children eat healthfully as they grow.  

Can Olympians motivate your eating?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Many of us will be glued to our TVs, watching the Olympic Games over the next several days. What can we learn about nourishing our bodies from these elite athletes?

Olympic athletes follow a rigorous training schedule with their eyes on the Gold, and what they eat and drink can make a winning difference! Most of them work with sports dietitians to help reach their nutrition goals. However, others can learn from their examples as well:

  • Food fuels and nourishes your body to help you perform well. Olympic athletes teach the importance of nutritious fueling every day by including the right balance of foods and beverages for each workout and event.
  • Successful Olympians jump-start their days with breakfasts that include protein and carbohydrate-rich foods. This keeps them energized and ready for the next challenge.
  • It’s important to keep a healthy relationship with food. Food is more than fuel. Even after eating to meet a specific goal, sometimes it’s still healthy to eat a favorite food just because you’re in the mood. However, some Olympians are at greater risk of eating disorders, especially those who become too focused on body image and develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to calorie needs. Some endurance athletes take in over 5,000 calories daily. The United States Olympic Committee provides helpful eating guidelines for its athletes.

Remember that the goal for a healthy lifestyle is something greater than Gold: your wellness!

Fun facts: Did you know that the Armed Forces Sports (AFS) program paves the way for service members to compete in national, Olympic, and international athletic competitions?

Let’s cheer on the 16 Armed Forces members participating in Rio’s Olympic Games and those who will compete in the Paralympics next month.

Go team USA!

Food tips for your PCS

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Moving, PCS
Is a move on your horizon? Add an “eating plan” to your checklist.

Packing up and heading to a new location can be stressful, even for service members who move often. Get a jump on your planning and use these “food resource” tips to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Plan meals. A few weeks before you move, inventory your food. Create weekly meal plans (and choose recipes) to use up what’s on hand, especially those foods you can’t take along.
  • Gift excess food. Give condiments and opened foods to a favorite neighbor. Although most unopened foods can go with your household goods, you can donate any excess to a food pantry if you want to save on weight. Some moving companies even offer this as a free service!
  • Pack a food box. Choose a clear plastic box and add basics—such as cereal, nut butter, jelly, coffee, and teas—for the first few days in your new home. Include an easy microwave meal such as red beans and instant rice too. And add a coffee pot, utensils, bowls, plates, plastic zip-type bags (in assorted sizes), dish soap, sponge, and a towel for cleanup. Send it in the moving truck or take it with you. Either way, plan accordingly.
  • Pack a cooler. Driving to your new location? Bring water, baby carrots, apples, or dried fruit for the car ride.
  • Manage overseas or regional moves. Contact your installation's family support office and ask about borrowing kitchenware essentials, especially if you don’t own any or expect them to arrive late. Remember to stock up on your favorite non-perishables—either hard-to-find or unavailable in your new location—and send them along with your household goods.
  • Unload and unpack. Make sure you’re properly fueled and hydrated if you’re doing any heavy lifting on move-in day. And forgo any alcohol.

 Happy trails! 

“Smart snacking” for kids

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
In the past 25 years, young children have greatly increased the number of snacks they consume. Try these “smart snacking” tips to help keep your kids healthy.

Almost 1 in 3 children starts school either overweight or obese—but giving healthy snacks to your preschoolers can get them off to a good start. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends healthy snacks as part of early childhood nutrition, especially since younger kids have small stomachs and might not be able to get all their nutrients at mealtime.

Over half of children ages 2–6 eat 3–5 snacks daily. Sweet and salty snacks (including sugary drinks) make up nearly 30% of their daily calories. These energy-dense foods also are linked to excess weight gain.

But there are ways to get the proper nutrients into their little bodies without going over their daily calorie needs. 2–3 healthful snacks can be just the ticket. Here are some helpful hints for “smart snacking.”

  • Think food groups. Many traditional snacks are carb-based with little nutrition and empty calories. Include 2 food groups per snack, such as whole-grain cereal with dried fruit, peanut butter on apple slices, plain yogurt with chopped fruit, or nut butter on whole-wheat bread or cracker.
  • Fill in the gaps. Young children can be picky eaters, especially at mealtime. Eating a snack in-between—such as fruit, vegetable, or protein (for example, chicken, egg, or nut butter)—can make up for what they’ve missed.
  • Timing is important. Limit snack time to 10–15 minutes to prevent overeating. And avoid eating too close to mealtime.
  • Portion size matters. Kids are small so their portions should be too. Limit portion sizes to half of adult ones, except they’ll still need about 2–2½ cups of dairy daily.
  • Think easy access. Store healthy-snack portions in baggies or containers at home. Take them on the go too!

Visit HPRC’s Family Nutrition page for helpful resources on nutrition, healthy recipes, and more.

Turning mealtime into “family time”

After a long workday, you might consider forgoing a family meal. Instead, combine plan-ahead tips with simple time-saving recipes. Add your loved ones to the mix and enjoy!

Mealtime can be enjoyable “family time” too, especially when you plan ahead and ask family members to “pitch in.” Kids like being helpful so let them know they’re vital members of your “family team.”

Many moms and dads recognize the importance of family mealtimes, but often want helpful ideas to make it “the norm.” Here are some tried-and-true tips to get you started. Add these to your family’s routine gradually. And add new tips whenever possible. Read more...

It’s mealtime: Ready to order?

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Healthy Tips
Restaurant menus and menu boards are designed to guide your food choices. Learn how you can save calories and dollars too.

Knowing what to order in a restaurant or dining hall can be challenging when you’re trying to eat healthy on a budget. But there are ways to eat right and save money too.

  • Check out the prices! Higher-priced entrées usually appear in the top right of a restaurant menu or menu board because that’s where your eyes tend to look first. You might want to think twice before placing your order.
  • Look for deals. Higher-priced entrées are sometimes mixed with other offerings where you might overlook their prices. So make sure to check out what else is on the menu and compare prices. You might feel good about selecting something lower in price, even if it’s more than you’d usually spend. Choose wisely.
  • Avoid the urge to splurge. Menus with red typeface and mouthwatering descriptions increase your appetite. Heading out for a fun night with friends? You could be tempted to spend more or order more food, which can leave you seeing red too. Sticking to your budget saves calories and dollars. Examine the menu carefully for tasty, healthy options.
  • Ordering in the dining hall or galley? Learn more about fueling up with the right foods to optimize your performance using the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Go for Green® nutrition program.

Armed with this new intel, you can look forward to your next meal out without buyer’s remorse!

Stretching your food dollars

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Filed under: Food, Money
Stop before you shop! Learn how to meet your nutrition goals without busting your grocery budget.

What’s the secret to shopping smarter and saving money at the grocery store? You want to choose healthy foods and eat well, but you’re noticing that too many of your hard-earned food dollars seem to vanish. Stores are setup to help you spend your money! You need to be as shrewd as detectives when you shop.

There are no legal ways around paying taxes, but try these 9 money-saving strategies when food shopping. You just might find more dollars in your wallet at the end of the month!  Read more...

Plan your meals in minutes!

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
The workday is ending—and you’re stressed from not knowing what to prepare at mealtime. With some advance preparation using HPRC’s meal-planning strategies, you’ll look forward to what’s for dinner.

We all want to serve healthy, nourishing food to our families. But sometimes we let our best intentions get in the way. You wouldn’t head into the woods without a plan, map, or GPS—so why begin your day with little thought about eating well? Start this year off right by learning and putting these easy meal-planning practices into place. Once you’ve established these habits, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to map out your meals. The more you practice HPRC’s strategies—the faster and fitter you’ll be—a huge savings to your body, time, and wallet. Read more here. 


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