As we finish the first month of the New Year, many of us are adjusting to our committed changes we have made for a healthier 2012.  One area which can make a huge difference in our wellness program is our eating when on duty.

Do you have a plan for your meals at work?

Do you succumb to the quick and easy fix of fast food or easy to grab snack foods when you are ravenous?

Do you constantly pick at food that people offer?

I used to be one of the officers who would spend quite a bit of money on junk food and eating crap while on duty.  I felt like crap.  It was no secret, as I weighed over 350 pounds trying to do this job.  My body ached, my demeanor was not nice,and I was miserable.  I was fortunate many years ago when I slowly decided to change the way I was eating and start exercising.  I indicated several weeks ago, I am in the best shape of my life today as I slowly approach the age of 50.

A great part of my success keeping the weight off has been planning out my meals when I have to work.  It sounds complicated, but it is simple when you put together the items to succeed.  The best part is you get to pack a healthy meal, you  what is in the meal and it is with you if you are stuck at an event or a post that youcannot leave.

Insulated Cooler Bag: There are many different sizes, models and styles.  I like the soft vinyl type which has a side pocket to store items like a fork, spoon, and knife.  You can keep a small bottle of pain reliever, other medications and vitamins, tooth brush and toothpaste.

Bottle of Water: A very important item to have throughout the shift especially when on patrol in all types of weather.

Plastic Storage Containers: you can store your meals in these containers.  Most can go into a microwave to heat up your food.

Here are some suggestions for you to consider eating while on duty.  Keep it light, healthy,  whole grain, and simple.  Pack some fruit, cut up vegetables, some good carbs such as brown rice, cereal or a pre-baked potato.  Pack some protein items such as low-fat yogurt or a cheese stick.  Be creative and keep it healthy.  This is fuel to keep your body energized and alert.

Try to eat whole foods and avoid the processed food  packages.   If you are selecting a pre-made item, read the label of ingredients.  If it’s long and the words are complicated to pronounce, avoid it.  Try to avoid items loaded with processed sweeteners, M.S.G., sodium and other chemical additives.  We need to be aware of the ingredients going into our body to maintain the proper blood-sugar balance needed for long-term energy.

Thermos liquid containers: are great items for packing and taking coffee, a hot beverage or soups, the way you like it.  It is with you especially when you are working overnight or it is with you when you are stuck at the event or post as mentioned above.

Keep a few items inside your locker or storage space inside your station in case ypu are forced to work an unplanned overtime shift.

Many healthy food items such as brown rice packages, beans, tuna, instant plain oatmeal, small packages of dry fruit, small bags of nuts, individual packs of peanut butter, and soups are easy to store and take a moment to prepare in a microwave.  Keep a small can opener, eating utensils, and a microwave bowl with these items.  When storing the food item, record the expiration date in your calendar to replace the item in the future.

We train to be tactical survivors and winners in our L.E.O. roles.  We need to tactically eat like a winner.  When you make a committed plan for your meals along with a daily exercise routine, you will be the winner that YOU, your family, your coworkers and your community deserves.

REMEMBER: We are the honorable profession!  Stay safe and be well!

Sergeant Mark St.Hilaire is a police officer in a Metro-west suburb of Boston, Massachusetts.  He is a police peer volunteer with a local C.I.S.M. team.  You can reach Sgt. St.Hilaire through this website or by confidential email: [email protected].  Follow him on Twitter:@NPD3306.