Here’s some food for thought; deciding what entrée is healthier than another has never been easier.
With March designated as National Nutrition Month, Naval Hospital Bremerton’s (NHB) Combined Food Operations and Nutrition Management team is using the Go for Green (G4G) 2.0 program to make eating enhanced and enriched, as well as easy.
NHB’s Terrace Dining Room has added updated, nutrient information – carbohydrate, fat, protein, saturated fat, sodium, and fiber – to displayed G4G 2.0 information cards, a simplified stoplight color-coded system that helps galley patrons make quick and healthy decisions, with green for high performance fuel, yellow for moderate performance fuel and red for low performance fuel.
An example of what’s considered green include selecting an entrée and sandwich less than 500 calories and 480 mg of sodium. These are whole foods and high in fiber. Yellow denotes choosing an entrée or sandwich between 500 and 700 calories and 480-700 mg of sodium. These have some processing and added sugars. Red indicates to limit intake of any entrée or sandwich over 700 calories or sodium greater than 700 mg. These are mostly processed, have excess fat, trans fat, or are fried foods.
“The cards are featured on the main line, soup, and dessert bar. Later in the month we will also showcase nutritionals for the speed line and salad bar. We hope that this helps when looking for nutrient dense options,” said Lt. Mari M. Moffitt, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, NHB Combined Food Operations/Nutrition Management head, citing that per the Human Performance Resource Center, the original G4G was created from the Soldier Fueling Initiative in 2008. It was rebranded to G4G 2.0 in 2014 – 2016.
According to Moffitt, the benefit of the color coded cards is that patrons can see for themselves what is a better choice, and added details such as how many carbs and how much sodium is contained in a serving. Red means ‘eat rarely,’ yellow means to ‘eat occasionally,’ and green signifies to ‘eat often.’
“We offer a variety of food in the galley but certain foods are better for performance and mental wellness based on the nutrient profile compared to others. We want to provide our patrons with options and we also want them to be aware of food items that should be consumed more often to promote health, wellness, and performance,” Moffitt said.
The G4G program adheres to what the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center refers to as performance nutrition, the premise that food is fuel for the body. For anyone to perform at their peak whether it’s on the job or participating in a sporting event, it’s considered essential to provide fuel that has high nutritional value. Eating habits based on green high performance fuel more than red low performance fuel allow a person to maintain a healthy body weight and body fat percentage.
For those like Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Dennis Moore, Clinical Support Service Directorate Leading Chief Petty Officer, who bypass the grill and entrée lines, the soup and salad offerings have long provided a staple variety of green high performance fuel options.
“It’s salad and soup for me every day. It’s not just good for my heart, but it’s good, period. We have a great selection here and it’s all fresh,” Moore said.
Another unique feature added to the G4G cards is listing food allergies – from egg, milk, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, shell fish, fish, and soy – which might be associated with any menu item being served that day.
“If a patron wants to know if an item contains an ingredient outside of these eight, my staff would be more than happy to assist them,” added Moffitt.
The National Nutrition Month theme is also allowing NHB to highlight a ‘Grain of the Week.’
“The cooks have been working their culinary magic and created delicious salads and sides using amaranth, millet, bulgur, and farro,” said Moffitt
This week presents farro, an ancient strain of wheat and one of the initial cereals domesticated in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East that eventually became a daily standard ration back in the days of the Roman Legion.
“Throughout the month of March try uncommon whole grains in the NHB Galley. For breakfast try farro grain in a hot coconut and mango farro dish or for lunch try zesty millet, bulgur cheese bake or a California amaranth salad,” advised Kayla Kangiser, NHB Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and certified diabetes educator.
Kangiser attests that there are a host of nutritional benefits by including grain in any meal.
“Whole grains provide all components of the grain. This includes the bran, the outer layer of the grain, packed with antioxidants, b vitamins and fiber; the germ, the part of the grain filled with additional b vitamins, minerals, small amount of protein and heart healthy fat,” said Kangiser, noting that increasing whole grain intake and removing refined grains can improve gut health and assist in potential weight loss.
As with most foods, there are good and not-as-good options to consume, and grains are no different.
“Refined grains have had the bran and germ removed, leaving the least nutrient rich portion of the grain for consumption. Refined grains give a quick source of energy and potentially lead to weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels,” Kangiser said, stressing even more food for thought.
“Switching from refined grains to whole grains will increase your vitamin, mineral, fiber and antioxidant intake,” continued Kangiser. “There are so many whole grains to choose. Go to your favorite grocery store and choose a whole grain you’ve never tried before, or come to the NHB galley to try out a variety of whole grains throughout the month of March.”