Nutrition Education for Firefighters

With all of the stressors that firefighters face, nutrition is a modifiable factor that can impact one’s health. Because we all eat, a nutrition program is a relevant and important health and safety training program for firefighters. I focus on simple and realistic approaches to improving firefighter health and wellness via nutrition education. With this approach, my experience working with various fire departments has been overwhelmingly positive and is documented on and in testimonials here.

A great example of how effective a nutrition program can be is through my work with Shrewsbury Fire Department for the past three years, which was recently covered in various online local newspapers and on Boston 25 News; the focus on eating healthy is not only important for better overall health and performance, but may also serve as a progressive approach to decreasing cancer risk in the fire service.

Signature Nutrition Framework:

  1. Group meetings allow for open discussion and tailoring a nutrition program not only to the department but also to each individual group.
  2. Interactive lectures on topics of interest that are relevant to the firefighter lifestyle.
  3. Healthy cooking initiatives focus on adopting healthy eating behaviors in the firehouse kitchen.

 Services provided include:

  • Educational classes and interactive presentations
  • Needs assessment
  • Group meetings and counseling sessions
  • Programs, strategies and plans for healthy eating and weight loss
  • Articles and information to support proper nutrition
  • Newsletters containing nutrition topics of interest, recipes, and tips
  • Advice and recommendations to the Fire Chief to promote a healthier work 
environment in regards to eating habits
  • Information geared toward emergency response personnel and the associated lifestyle

Lecture and Group Meeting Examples:

  • Basic Nutrition Lecture
  • Shop to Prep: Ins and Outs of Grocery Shopping and Meal Prep
  • Lifestyle Approaches to Nutrition
  • Sugar Spotlight: Understanding the Health Impacts of Sugar
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Portion Distortion
  • Debunking Nutrition Myths

Why Work With Dana? Nutrition is a complicated topic to discuss — everyone eats and has an opinion on how, what and why they choose to eat something. I take this into consideration when planning programs by making them inclusive instead of giving one-sided nutrition advice by telling people that they should eat X, Y, and Z –although it might work for some, it usually isn’t effective for most in the fire community. My strategy is to use feedback from the department; focus on addressing questions and topics of interest; and to present information in a non-judgmental and approachable way for optimal participation.

Outcome: Previous departments that have worked with me have become more aware of their food choices and how they impact their bodies; increased healthier cooking habits (while on a budget); bettered their health; and are less resistant to trainings with time. Strengths of the program also include informative trainings that are direct to the point and eye opening (ex: shedding light on how portion control and hidden ingredients, such as sugar and sodium, add up within our diets). Firefighters appreciate and notice the effort put into making the program tailored based on feedback in addition to my accessibility for questions.