Dietitian keeps Airmen fit to fight

Photo By Senior Airman Erick Requadt | Sandra Stuart, right, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian, and Tech. Sgt. John Faggard, 23d Aircraft Maintenance resource advisor, go over his body composition results, Aug. 9, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. As a board-certified sports dietitian, Stuart helps Airmen make the best use of the nutrition involved in their exercise, helping maximize their fitness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erick Requadt)



Story by Senior Airman Erick Requadt 

23rd Wing Public Affairs 

The building blocks that ensure Airmen are healthy and able to take the fight to the enemy starts with what they put on their plate and in their bodies.

The base dietitian provides dietary counsel and offers a variety of sustainable wellness practices to help keep Team Moody fit to fight.

“I am here to promote healthy wellness habits to the Airmen and the base as a whole, reaching out to try and educate them,” said Sandra Stuart, 23d Medical Group health promotion dietitian. “I’ll educate them on supplement safety, on how to live well, have good performance with their job and how food can fit into that.”

Stuart’s services are offered to all Airmen and their families through three main capacities: mindful eating, sleep hygiene and exercise nutrition.

“(Dietitians) are the nutrition experts,” Stuart said. “We provide evidence-based nutrition, and we offer up-to-date information to Airmen that is sound advice that they can go by and know is true. (Airmen) can trust it’s going to be the best for them and for their health.”

Stuart explained how mindful eating serves as the cornerstone of Airmen being at the top of their game.

“Food is fuel,” Stuart said. “It’s about making sure you eat the right food, because that’s going to fill your body up with the nutrients to perform for your job, to have the energy level needed. With mindful eating, it’s really about being aware of what you’re putting in your body and being aware of portion sizes.

“A lot of Airmen are of the mindset of eating until the food on their plate is gone; but if you focus on your food, being mindful of what you’re eating and of your hunger, then you can actually minimize the total amount of calories you’re eating.”

As a board-certified sports dietitian, Stuart also helps Airmen make the best use of the nutrition involved in their exercise, helping maximize their fitness.

“I help a lot of Airmen who ask about nutrition in relation to their fitness goals and exercise,” Stuart said. “I can provide them plans on what to eat or drink before, during and after exercise.”

Stuart explained how the inclusion of proper nutrition can help overall performance and most importantly aid in recovery.

“Without proper recovery, whether it’s including stretching after a workout, or a good protein and carbohydrate snack or meal, it can be easy to injure yourself,” she said. “With military members, reducing injury rate is very important to the overall mission of the Air Force.”

Stuart emphasized that where mindful eating and exercise are important, without proper sleeping habits, it can impact an Airman’s overall wellness to be fit to fight.

“Sleep is huge because if you’re not sleeping well, you’re going to be tired throughout the day and that can increase your energy drink and coffee consumption, which potentially can have a lot of calories,” Stuart said. “The hormones can get fluctuated as well. So, sleep has a huge impact on both exercise and nutrition.”

Stuart pointed out how having mindfulness in all aspects of wellness is important to having a healthy life.

“If you don’t have a clear mind because of low energy from lack of sleep, you can’t do your job,” Stuart continued. “If you don’t have the energy to run away from the enemy or shoot at them, what good is that? You prep for your job by getting things ready by having a checklist. You need that with your life as well. ‘I’ve got all my parts to fix the plane. Do I have all the parts to have a good healthy life?’”

With all the facets of wellness blended together, Capt. Timothy Pratt, 347th Operations Support Squadron flight commander, showed how Stuart plays a vital role for Team Moody’s health and longevity.

“What (Stuart) brings to us is very valuable,” Stuart said. “Being able to send my Airmen to her and have her work with them and get them what they need has been so helpful, because each one of my Airmen has different goals.

“If you want to do 20 years, you have to stay healthy, and diet is a huge part of that,” Pratt added. “Having a good diet and taking care of yourself is paramount to success in whatever you’re doing.”

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