Fueling for Health: Making better food choices

Photo By Alexandra Shea | Fort Jackson Army Wellness Center Health Educator Stephanie Dean draws a diagram to help class attendees understand that harsh chemicals are used to process foods such as grains during the Fueling for Health seminar Jan. 23. The seminar helped attendees understand how to make better fuel choices for their bodies.



Story by Alexandra Shea 

Fort Jackson Public Affairs Office 

The Fort Jackson Army Wellness Center hosted a Fueling for Health seminar Jan. 23 to help attendees better understand the foods they consume and how they fuel the body throughout the day. The one-hour class uncovered the way the body processes food and the hidden dangers of processed foods.

“We were asked to come here today as part of the Civilian Work Force Development Center to help bring light to the nutritional deficiencies we are seeing in our population,” said Stephanie Dean with the Fort Jackson AWC.

Dean, a health educator, has worked in various wellness centers across the Department of Defense. Her goal, she said, is to education local populations on how to better fuel the body to reduce illness, injury and boost energy and vitality. She also provides information about available heath programs available to the Fort Jackson workforce and the many services available through the AWC.

AWC services include health assessment reviews, wellness coaching, weight management, nutrition and sleep education, stress management, body composition analysis, metabolic testing exercise testing and prescription, and tobacco education for those interested in quitting smoking.

“The services are free to Soldiers, civilians, veterans and their Families,” she said.

During the class, Dean explained what processed foods contained and how they can affect the body in negative ways. She also explained how to read food labels and how labels are starting to look since the Food and Drug Administration have changed the format of food labels.

“Do you know what a refined grain is?” she asked. “It’s processed sugar. They (food manufacturers) use chemical bleaches and they strip them out.”

These chemical processes strip natural foods of essential vitamins and nutrients to help make foods sweeter and then enrich the foods with the same vitamins and nutrients that were stripped out, she said. “It was already there to begin with, so why don’t we just eat the original?” she said.

While some enriched foods can provide nutrients and vitamins, foods processed with additional sugars, sodium and fats that make foods taste better and increase shelf life can lead to obesity, heart disease and diabetes according to the article “The Nutrition Source” published by the Harvard School of Medicine.

Dean also briefly discussed supplements. Often used by Soldiers and veterans, supplements and pre-workout powders are easily found on military installations. Supplements can be produced around the world and may not be regulated.

“Danger, danger, danger. If you’re using supplements, double check and make sure it’s not being red flagged,” Dean said. “(Some) have been found to contain 15% cockroach nonsense in them. The stuff they put in these supplements are 17-ways from gross. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body, do the research and look for the U.S. Pharmacopeia seal on the label.”

U.S. Pharmacopeia is an organization that provides quality testing and monitoring of dietary supplements. Purchasing products with the seal lets consumers know that the supplement contains true and accurate information according to the USP website.

To check supplements for ingredients that the FDA or U.S. Armed Services have disallowed, visit www.hprc-online.org/dietary-suplements/OPSS.

Dean wrapped up the class with eating strategies to help better fuel bodies. Those strategies included portion control for unrealistic sizes of food portions and how to read nutrition labels to understand how calorically and nutritionally dense a food is.

She encouraged each attendee to visit the wellness center and take advantage of the service and programs it offers. The AWC is located at 4512 Stuart Street and can be contacted at 751-6749.

“Come use our services,” Dean said. “We open as early as 8 a.m.”

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