Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

Image of Man wearing a face mask restocking fruit at a store. Greg Wagner, a store associate for the Hurlburt Field Commissary, restocks blueberries in the commissary on Hurlburt Field, Florida, Sept. 3, 2020. The commissary is one of the many facilities on the installation annually evaluated by the Health and Wellness Center for healthy food options to sustain combat-ready Air Commandos and their families (Air Force Airman 1st Class Robyn Hunsinger, 1st Special Operations Wing).

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness

Nutrition is one the eight Total Force Fitness domains, and having safe, high-quality foods available to members of the military goes a long way toward sustaining and optimizing physical and cognitive performance, as well as health, well-being, and readiness.

With March serving as National Nutrition Month, Military Health System providers emphasize the importance and impact of maintaining proper nutrition throughout the year.

"The implications of nutritional fitness are far-reaching because being truly nutritionally fit will impact all the other TFF domains: medical, behavioral, psychological, environmental, physical, social, and spiritual," said Patricia Deuster, executive director of the Uniformed Services University (USU) Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Nutritional choices and habits affect every aspect of life: sleep, mood, physical and cognitive performance, sense of purpose, health, and more," Deuster said. "Nutrition is intricately woven into the fabric of each TFF domain. So by choosing a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and tobacco, and engaging in regular physical activity, this will empower service members, their families and retirees to live healthy and fulfilling lives. But we must also provide an environment so that the healthy choice is the easiest and default choice."

Army Maj. Joetta Khan, deputy director and chief of education and research, Nutrition Services Department, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Maryland explained, "We are no longer focused on the old model of treating illness but have transitioned to a more preventive approach" that incorporates proper nutrition as a linchpin of TFF.

"If we can coach, teach and mentor the soldier at multiple points within his or her career, from basic training until retirement, there could be a significant cost savings for the soldier. These could be in the form of fewer injuries and chronic diseases, more healthy work days, and increased resiliency," said Khan.

"For the soldier's family, this could translate into the soldier bringing the concepts home, and more healthy days at home," added Khan. "Finally, this continuous training in TFF could translate into fewer sick/injured days and lower medical care costs associated with treating long-term conditions."

Said Army 1st Lt. Maria Stukenborg, a holistic health fitness performance nutritionist at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state: "Proper nutrition can aid in healing from illness or injury by assisting in the healing process. Not only can nutrition help to improve recovery, but appropriate fueling helps us decrease our risk for injury."

According to performance nutritionist Army Capt. Kristina Fauser-Martin of Fort Drum in New York: "When individuals are fueling themselves appropriately, it puts them in proper energy availability. Energy availability is the amount of energy a person has available for physiological functions after exercise. If service members are eating below their energy needs, it puts them in a state called low availability, where a person's energy intake is not enough to meet their daily energy needs plus the demands of training. Low energy availability has many performance consequences including increased risk for injury."

Two baskets full of  fresh apples and bananas
The Wilson Express shop at Fort Knox, Kentucky, earned recognition in 2020 for its display of fresh fruits near the checkout for those who do not have time to cook a meal during lunchtime or after work. Having these types of foods handily available helps in the nutrition component of Total Force Fitness (Photo by: Eric Pilgrim, Fort Knox, Kentucky).

"Easy steps service members can take to improve their nutrition include working to find balance at meals and learning to eat intuitively," said Stukenborg. "This involves trying to incorporate carbohydrates, fats, and proteins at all meals and snacks as well as learning to pay attention to one's hunger and fullness cues. That includes the timing of fuels, nutrients, and fluids."

Army 1st Lt. Rachel Dyal, Madigan Army Medical Center inpatient nutrition chief, explained that when people listen to their hunger and fullness cues, they usually notice hunger cues every three to four hours.

"If you are listening to your body and hunger cues are missing, there may be mental or physical reasons you should investigate,” she said."

Other easy steps to enhance nutrition immediately include "setting yourself up for success," said CHAMP's Deuster. "Focus on three areas: the kitchen, mealtime, and your office. In the kitchen, have healthy options (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) readily available. Designate an area as a 'snack zone' with nutritious, easy-to-grab snacks. Last, keep treats and sweets in hard-to-reach places. At mealtime, put down your phone and turn off the TV. At your desk, keep a water bottle nearby and stash a few healthy snacks in a drawer."

CHAMP resources and programs include:

Power Plate
High-Performance Eating versus Low-Performance Eating
Fuel Up to Stay Strong Every Day
Personal Protective Nutrition and Personal Protective Lifestyle
Combat Rations Database
Warfighter Nutrition Guide
Go4Green

You also may be interested in...

Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Dinner

Video
8/3/2022
Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Dinner

With the start of school right around the corner, Capt. Caitlyn Shaver, chief of clinical nutrition at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, explains the importance of dinner as a way to bring the family together.

Recommended Content:

Back to School Immunizations | Nutritional Fitness

Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Snacking

Video
8/3/2022
Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Snacking

With the start of school right around the corner, Capt. Caitlyn Shaver, chief of clinical nutrition at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, explains the importance of healthy snacking.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Back to School Immunizations

Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Breakfast

Video
8/3/2022
Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Breakfast

With the start of school right around the corner, Capt. Caitlyn Shaver, chief of clinical nutrition at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, explains the importance of eating breakfast.

Recommended Content:

Back to School Immunizations | Nutritional Fitness

Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Meals on the Go

Video
8/3/2022
Army Dietician Shares Importance of Healthy Eating: Meals on the Go

With the start of school right around the corner, Capt. Caitlyn Shaver, chief of clinical nutrition at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, explains the importance of balanced meals-on-the-go.

Recommended Content:

Back to School Immunizations | Nutritional Fitness

The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

Video
7/11/2022
The Dangers of Dietary Supplements

Did you know that 75% of service members use at least 1 dietary supplement? Experts from the Uniformed Services University discuss the risks and safety concerns of dietary supplements. Learn more about dietary supplements at www.OPSS.org and The Consortium of Health & Military Performance (CHAMP).

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support

What is Performance Nutrition

Video
7/11/2022
What is Performance Nutrition

Learn more about Performance Nutrition and healthy eating habits at the Consortium for Health & Military Performance. https://champ.usuhs.edu/. For more information about the Dietician Approved Fueling stations at your local commissary, go to https://www.commissaries.com/fueling_stations

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Health Readiness & Combat Support | Nutritional Fitness

Performance Nutrition: The Best Ways to Eat

Video
7/11/2022
Performance Nutrition: The Best Ways to Eat

USU professor and nutrition specialist, Jonathan Scott PhD, gives advice on eating healthy. Learn more about the Dietician Approved Fueling stations at your local commissary here: https://www.commissaries.com/fueling_stations

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

Considering supplements? Stay Informed

Video
6/22/2022
Considering supplements? Stay Informed

Stay informed when considering supplements to help you reach your performance and fitness goals with this video from Operation Supplement Safety, the #DOD dietary supplement resource at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #OPSS #USU

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

What should I eat after a workout?

Video
6/22/2022
What should I eat after a workout?

Ever wonder how to fuel up post-workout to maximize recovery and support your fitness? Check out these tips from the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP, part of the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences to enhance your performance! #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #USU #HPRC”

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness | Physical Fitness

6 Essential Nutrients

Video
6/22/2022
6 Essential Nutrients

Are you getting the right nutrients from your diet? Check out this overview of the six essential nutrients to optimize your performance and fitness from Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. #PerformanceNutrition #FueltoFight #USU #HPRC

Recommended Content:

Performance Nutrition: Fuel Your Body and Mind | Nutritional Fitness

A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Video
3/9/2022
A Retired Navy SEAL Discusses his TBI

Retired Navy SEAL Edward Rasmussen discusses his TBI, and urges others to seek treatment if they have symptoms. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

One Airman's Recovery from TBI

Video
3/9/2022
One Airman's Recovery from TBI

After a motorcycle accident, Master Sergeant Stalnaker started having symptoms of traumatic brain injury, or TBI. He tells his story about his symptoms and his road to recovery from physical and emotional wounds as a result. If you’re experiencing symptoms of TBI, visit health.mil/TBI to learn about the resources available to you.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Traumatic Brain Injury

Heart Health Month 2022

Video
2/11/2022
Heart Health Month 2022

Love letter from your heart. Happy Heart Health Month!

Recommended Content:

Heart Health | Total Force Fitness | Heart Health

Quality of Life

Video
1/5/2022
Quality of Life

Nearly half of people making resolutions for the new year are resolving to lose weight. While there are several long-term benefits to losing weight - avoiding or managing other chronic health conditions among them - losing just a little bit of weight right now can have immediate effects on your quality of life. From less joint pain to more energy to better sleep, you can start seeing and feeling the benefits of healthy weight loss nearly right away. Visit tricare.mil/weightmanagement to learn more.

Recommended Content:

Weight Management for Lasting Health | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Safe and Effective Weight Loss

Video
1/5/2022
Safe and Effective Weight Loss

If you're resolving to lose weight in 2022, make sure to do it safely by avoiding crash and yo-yo diets. Talk to your doctor to make a plan for the safest and most effective way for you to manage a healthy weight in 2022. Visit tricare.mil/weightmanagement for even more tips.

Recommended Content:

Weight Management for Lasting Health | Nutritional Fitness | Physical Fitness
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: April 27, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.