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

Proper nutrition impacts overall health & readiness

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 Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit

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...

Total Force Fitness Physical

Infographic
7/21/2021
Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Total Force Fitness - Total Body Preventive Health and Physical Fitness - Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury

Recommended Content:

August Toolkit | Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness

AJ-Maste Yoga: Tips for a Healthy Deployment

Article
7/13/2021
Military personnel doing a yoga pose

Yoga comes in many forms and fashions, and has proven health benefits.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Article
7/9/2021
Someone cooking on a grill

Food safety in the summer is just as important as sunscreen

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Summer Safety

CHAMP uses more predictive analytics to improve beneficiary healthcare

Article
7/8/2021
A game of tug-of-war

Military health innovation and Total Force Fitness go hand-in-hand.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Health Innovation Month | Health Innovation – Pathways to Ready Reliable Care | Health Innovations across the MHS Enterprise | MHS Research Symposium

Turn Post-traumatic Stress Into Post-traumatic Growth

Article
6/30/2021
PTSD Infographic

Myths and facts about post-traumatic stress (PTS) and post-traumatic growth (PTG).

Recommended Content:

June Toolkit | PTSD Awareness Month | Total Force Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Aphasia, Caused by Stroke or TBI, is Frustrating and Little Known

Article
6/29/2021
A doctor looking at brain scans

Aphasia is an incurable disease usually caused by stroke that affects all forms of communication.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Heart Health | Centers of Excellence | Traumatic Brain Injury

TFF cogs Environmental 1200x675

Infographic
5/19/2021
Social media graphic for Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention Month and Environmental Fitness

“Vision and Hearing and Environmental Fitness Ability to perform tasks in any environment"

Recommended Content:

June Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

TFF cogs Physical 1200x675

Infographic
5/19/2021
Social media graphic for Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention Month and Physical Fitness

“Vision and Hearing and Physical Fitness. Ability to physically accomplish all tasks while remaining mission capable and avoiding injury.”

Recommended Content:

June Toolkit | Total Force Fitness Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

Ten ways parents can help kids make good nutritional choices

Article
4/27/2021
Image of a colorful plate outlining the portions and serving sizes of each type of food.

Nutrition is a key element of Total Force Fitness, but it’s just as important to encourage kids to make smart nutritional choices.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Month of the Military Child Toolkit | Children's Health | Nutritional Fitness

Total Force Fitness COGS Psychological

Infographic
4/26/2021
Total Force Fitness social media graphic showing the multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, an orange Psychological Fitness shuttlecock.

Total Force Fitness Mental Health and Psychological Fitness Ability to integrate and improve cognitive, emotional, and behavioral capabilities to optimize performance and ensure mission readiness

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Total Force Fitness Circle Logo

Infographic
4/26/2021
Total Force Fitness logo showing the eight domains swirling in a circle

"Total Force Fitness”

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Mental Health and Total Force Fitness

Total Force Fitness COGS Environmental

Infographic
4/26/2021
Total Force Fitness social media graphic showing the multi-colored Total Force Fitness logo, a green Environmental Fitness shuttlecock.

“Total Force Fitness Mental Health and Environmental Fitness Ability to perform tasks in any environment”

Recommended Content:

Mental Health Toolkit | Total Force Fitness | Environmental Fitness | Mental Health and Total Force Fitness

Do sports / energy drinks enhance individual performance?

Article
4/12/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask discussing food options

While there are many energy sports drinks are available, their overall value varies.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness

Dietetic interns train to better MHS beneficiaries nutrition, health

Article
4/5/2021
Military health personnel wearing face mask while discussing food options

Registered dietitians, exercise therapists, dietetic interns and other team members in the Nutrition Services Department at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, assist patients and staff in developing healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness

MHS Minute March 2021

Video
4/1/2021
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

March marked Brain Injury Awareness month in the military. We're spotlighting efforts across the MHS to combat Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and better understand how TBI impacts our Service members. For more information about the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE), go to walterreed.tricare.mil/NICoE For more info on the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence (TBICoE), go to Health.mil/TBICoE

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Brain Injury Awareness Toolkit | Traumatic Brain Injury
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 7

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.