NORFOLK, VA, UNITED STATES
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Medical Department hosted a general wellness class on healthy eating, weight management, heart health, and performance nutrition May 12, 2021.
With Kearsarge joining the rest of the Navy in preparation for its first Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) since before the Covid-19 pandemic, the goal in offering the nutrition class was to better prepare Kearsarge’s crew of approximately 1,000 Sailors for success in and out of the gym.
”General wellness is important for Sailors because we’re tasked with demanding activities like 24-hour duty and watch standing,” said Lt. Sara Chambers, the Naval Surface Forces Atlantic dietitian who taught the class. “Maintaining our physical readiness not only enables us to perform during our semiannual fitness tests, it also helps us meet the rigors of our operational demands.”
Sailors are often required to perform arduous tasks for extended hours. These activities can be mentally taxing. Chambers educated Sailors on how their diet not only influences weight management, it also affects their mood, energy, and can balance mental health.
Lt. Casey Arnold, Kearsarge’s general medical officer, concurs.
“Not only will a balanced diet aid in your physical health, decrease cholesterol and prevent obesity but it can also contribute to your mental health,” said Arnold. “A nutritious meal can boost your mood and give you energy to tackle your day.”
Go for Green is a DoD-wide, joint service food identification program the Navy employs in galleys on ships and ashore to help Sailors easily identify the nutritional value of food using colored cards: green, yellow, or red. These colors help Sailors identify foods optimized for performance and foods that should be limited.
“Sailors can maintain a healthy lifestyle on a ship by utilizing the Go for Green system,” said Chambers. “I recommend focusing mostly on green and yellow choices, limit choosing red, and to not have too many carbohydrates per meal. Go heavy on those vegetables on the line and salad bar.”
The Covid pandemic impaired every branch of service’s ability to do group activities like physical training, but with high vaccination rates, decreased rates of Covid, and restrictions being relaxed, Chambers said it’s time for Sailors to start making healthy dietary choices and refocus on their personal fitness.
“Having nutrition events reminds everyone to get back into the fighting spirit,” said Chambers. “Getting back to regular healthy eating and exercise so that we can be ready to fulfill the Navy’s mission is a part of reclaiming a sense of normalcy.”