March is national nutrition month and in honor of the month the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) brought a Naval Medical Center Portsmouth a dietician to the ship for a week while the crew conducts sea trials March 4 to 11.
While the crew is working hard to get the ship trained and certified for deployment, there is one mission that is just as important and that is health and the importance of eating notoriously to stay mission ready.
Lieutenant Sara Stenburn, NMCP dietician offered numerous classes on general nutrition and one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions to make sure the crew themselves are ready to fight.
“This is all about readiness,” said Stenburn. “We have to maintain standards; we have to be ready for whatever the Navy calls us to do. A large part of that is health, fueling our bodies and being in shape.”
While promoting Sailor readiness was a central goal of her time onboard, the effects of good nutrition effect all aspects of a Sailor’s life.
“I want to promote nutrition as much as I can while I’m here,” said Stenburn. “It depends on the patient and what their individual goals are as far as what I can do for them now, but I think we always feel better and function better when we fuel ourselves properly. When we give our bodies what we need we just sleep better, function better and are generally in a better mood.”
Practicing good Nutrition takes self-discipline, but for Stenburn, being disciplined doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat comfort food.
“Unless there is a medical condition involved, I really don’t like to tell patients they can’t eat a certain food ever again,” said Stenburn. “But there are lots of foods that I call ‘sometimes foods’ and it’s about how can you balance those foods that you really enjoy eating, but aren’t the best for our health, that’s where most people struggle with nutrition, so I really strive to help my patients find that balance in their diets.”
Living on a ship can present unique challenges to a healthy diet, but
Stenburn says it all comes down to personal choice.
“There are always plenty of healthy options available,” said Stenburn. “We have to make the best out of what we’re given. Just because fried meat is being served doesn’t mean you have to eat it.”