A NUTRITION EDUCATION PROGRAM FOR FIRE DEPARTMENTS
WHAT IT IS:
A four-part framework that maximizes results and
creates long lasting changes using the following formula:
How It Works:
The Cultural Shift Method goes beyond talking about healthy eating and leads to actually making positive behavior changes. Dana’s simplified approach to nutrition combined with budget friendly meals that can be created on a time crunch creates the cultural shift; by making nutrition easy, individualized, and attainable for firefighters.
Disclosure: Nutrition changes that are built upon long lasting culture within the fire community won’t change overnight. They take time. The Cultural Shift Method takes this into account.
The state of firefighters’ health is at its worst and poses a major threat to the entire community.
More than 70 percent of firefighters are overweight or obese (National Volunteer Fire Council, 2011), which impacts the general health and physical shape of these firefighters, as well as their job performance. Yet, we know that the very people we rely on to serve and help others can’t do so without first helping themselves. Add occupational risks, such as the rise of cancer rates, heart disease, and various barriers that stand in the way of having a healthy eating environment, and we have a unique and complex group of factors to address within the fire service.
It’s not your fault!
Why Health and Wellness Programs aren’t implemented:
- BUDGET RESTRICTIONS – You’re currently viewing a wellness program as an expense (and it is if you have a “one and done” training mentality). Although you might want results instantly, you have to remember that nutrition habits are formed over a long period of time, so if the goal is to change those habits, it will take time. Creating a sustainable program sends the message that you are taking the department’s health seriously by investing in a long-term initiative. With time, positive changes become contagious and adopted.
- BUY IN – A program is only as effective as those who make it. Creating a mandatory nutrition program can be threatening to many, which is why approach and continuous meetings with room for adjustments are key here.
- ALL OR NOTHING MENTALITY – that is typically found within there community is a barrier when it comes to nutrition. Having an “eat this, not that” approach tends to set many people up for failure with various quick fixes, instead of long-term changes that see health benefits.
Now that we understand how we got here what do we have to do to move forward? The same old nutrition programs have been tried and failed. We need a program that focuses on the entire culture of firefighting, the unique occupational factors, and barriers firefighters face, and not just nutrition facts.
What is at stake?
Rates of cancer among firefighters, heart-disease, and other nutrition-related health conditions.
Health costs based on injuries, worker’s compensation, and absenteeism.
Being prepared as a firefighter for unknown work tasks.
Living a happier life.
Investment in firefighter health
“It was one of the more informative training programs we have, and geared to making us more healthy in being a firefighter and beyond our careers here.”
“This gets you thinking about something that a lot of us don’t stop to think about everyday. We sometimes take better care of our cars than ourselves.”
“The information was eye-opening. There was no down side.”
“This presentation was very well-rounded and informative. It gave a real world example of what some of our dietary choices’ consequences will mean. Continue with the good work and informing Fire Departments of their nutritional needs.”
Dana’s teaching style
“The instructor was engaging and displayed a thorough knowledge of topic.”
“Dana has a good way of getting the information across in a non-confrontational way.”
“Very good attitude. Deals with questions and distractions of the Department very well.”
“Dana is excellent, personable, and a tremendous resource. We are lucky to have her.”
“Continuous meetings drive change. Just when you start slipping, Dana is back to clarify things.”
NUTRITION SERVICES FOR FIRE DEPARTMENTS
- Educational classes, interactive presentations, and cooking workshops
- Needs assessment
- Group meetings and counseling sessions
- Programs, strategies and plans for healthy eating and weight loss
- Evidence-based research and resources 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 is geared toward emergency response personnel and the associated lifestyle
WORKSHOP TOPICS EXPLORED
- Introduction to Nutrition
- Diet vs. Lifestyle Approaches to Nutrition
- Sugar Sugar Everywhere: A Complete Guide to Sugar
- From Shop to Prep: Ins and Outs of Grocery Shopping and Meal Prep
– Option to combine with grocery tour and cooking workshop
- Exploring the Diet and Cancer Connection
- Hydration 101: Tips for Staying Hydrated While on Shift
- Stress Less: Coping Skills and Mindful Breathing Techniques
- And more
COOKING WORKSHOPS EXPLORED
- Balanced Breakfast Basics
- Snack Attack Session
- Grilling Workshop
- Eat More Veggies
- Meal Prep Repurposed: Make Once, Repurpose Into a New Meal Later
- Flavor Profiles: Sauces, Marinades, and Dressings From Scratch
- Healthy Alternatives: Groups provide meal idea, Dana creates a modified healthier option
- And more
- *Note: All recipes are firefighter approved!
Investing in firefighter health and wellness is the best thing you can do for your firefighters (on + off shift), their families, and communities they serve. In order to do so, we need to focus on making eating healthy attainable via nutrition education and cooking healthy meals that are budget friendly and time sensitive. Creating a successful program proves to better a department, including its moral and overall health of its members. When you focus on changing the culture using the Cultural Shift Method, health and wellness initiatives become the best investment for your department that saves money and lives in the long run.
Ready to take next steps for improving your department’s health and wellness?
– James Vuona, Shrewsbury Fire Chief
– William Mosley, Worcester Fire Lieutenant and Diversity Officer, Certified Personal Trainer
– Dennis Condon, Needham Fire Chief
nutritionist and educator. balance enthusiast. founder of the cultural shift method for fire departments // health + wellness.