The Planner

Admittedly, this personality has probably the best odds for success when attempting to incorporate healthy eating into their work day (or night, or swing). It has been my experience that taking one day a week and planning for meals, snacks and upcoming events sets the tone for the week, and can be very motivating to stay on track. Some of the ways that I plan:

INVENTORY: Every Sunday, I do a brief tour of my pantry and refrigerator. I write a shopping list of what I need for the next week. Then I do an inventory of what I do have, and use that to plan my meal prep for the upcoming week.

MEAL PLAN: Using my inventory, I write down in my planner all the meals and snacks I want to prep for the week. I try not to dive into the weeds too much with complicated recipes. It’s easier to keep it simple with just a protein and a vegetable. If I do a more complex meal during the week for the family, I will double the recipe and have a couple meals for the following week already taken care of.

PREP: This is the step that will consume most of your time, but getting it out of the way in a day, frees up so much more time going forward, so I find it is truly worth the time and the messy kitchen for a few hours.

Food I like to prep:

  • Bacon (I bake it a pound at a time on a cookie tray lined with parchment 400 degrees for 20-25 min )
  • Sausage Patties (In the oven just like the bacon) I also take half the tube and crumble it in a skillet on the stovetop.
  • Yogurt – I make homemade plain Greek yogurt in the best kitchen appliance ever invented, the Yogurmet yogurt maker. It’s awesome.
  • I always have a pork tenderloin or a beef roast in the crock pot too. Shredded pork and shredded beef are staples in our house. They’re great for salads, “Chipotle” like bowls and just as stand-alone protein.
  • Bone broth – We’re big on soups and stews, so when I buy a Costco rotisserie chicken, I save the carcass and throw it in a pot for bone broth. I also pick up a few beef joints and marrow bones at the butcher and throw them in the freezer for beef broth.
  • I also grill on Sundays. Chicken Breast and Flank Steak cut into strips and frozen in individual portions. Simple grab and go items. I also like to do a cedar plank Salmon from time to time.
  • Steamed Vegetables – Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus – undercook a little so they don’t turn to mush when reheated.
  • Salad Prep – Mixed Greens, Tomato, Green Onion, Bell Pepper, Cucumber…. put together a giant salad and then portion out for the upcoming week.

Some of my favorite Amazon prep items:

  • EZ Prepa Meal Containers.
  • Stasher Reusable Food Storage Bags.
  • YUFF Baggy Rack (for pouring food into storage bags).
  • Sistema Food Storage Containers (for dressings and condiments).
  • MIER insulated cooler bag. One of the most durable we’ve owned.

The Anti-Planner

You’re the fly by the seat of your pants kind of cop. Yes, even for you there are some healthier choices out there.

            Fast Food

If you must hit the drive through, these small tweaks can make a difference.

  • Skip the bun. Ask for your burger in a lettuce wrap.
  • Don’t supersize. Seriously just don’t do it.
  • Lose the ketchup. It’s literally just a packet of sugar. Use the mayo and mustard instead.
  • Skip the soda, go for an iced tea or coffee. If you must sweeten them, use a natural sweetener like Stevia. Don’t use anything with saccharine or aspartame. You’re better off drinking the full sugar soda than ingesting that garbage.

            Convenience Store

There are actually some hidden gems in these if you really look.

  • Pickles. Not a ton of nutrition, but will satisfy a salt craving (and can squash sugar cravings too)
  • String Cheese
  • Nuts (not the honey roasted kind) just the regular. Check the ingredients.
  • Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower
  • Nut butters – Sometimes you can find almond/macadamia or cashew butters in individual packages. Grab an apple and you’ve got a great snack.
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Pork Rinds (they are low in carbs, and great when you’re craving chips)
  • Beef Jerky – just watch some of the flavors, like teriyaki, too much sugar.
  • Even a beef hot dog without the bun isn’t a horrible choice (again, ditch the ketchup and relish)
  • Energy drinks and sports drinks – SOOOOO much sugar. Just don’t.

At the Coffee Shop – Ask for heavy whipping cream in your coffee. Throw a couple packets of butter in as well. The fat and calories will keep your energy levels up. Avoid the sugar free syrup and sweeten with stevia.

Nobody’s best intentions work every, single time. There are going to be moments when you have to eat what’s available, particularly in your line of work. But when you can make intentional, healthy choices, it will always work in your favor. A little forethought and planning can go a long way. Even small, incremental changes over time can have great health benefits in the long term. Consider making just one small change in your eating habits today. You have enough things that you have no control over working against you in this job. Take control of the things you can today.

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Sherry Graham-Potter is the surviving wife of Deputy Tim Graham, Pima County Sheriff’s Department, who was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle during a foot pursuit on August 10, 2005. While Sherry and her young sons struggled to make sense of their tragic loss, their local chapter of C.O.P.S. stepped in to support the grieving family. Inspired by the survivors she encountered, Sherry became a strong advocate for the role that fitness and nutrition played in her own grief process, and encourages new survivors to incorporate healthy habits into their own lives as they navigate their healing path.

Today, Sherry is married to Officer/Pilot Chris Potter of the Tucson Police Department. Together they advocate for health and wellness within the law enforcement community, teaching Fitness and Nutrition to officers across the country. The couple are both avid cyclists and triathletes. Sherry also authored the viral Facebook post to the Nike Corporation.