Mother and son at farmers market
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Practicing Good Nutrition Boosts Personal Performance

Military members need to stay in shape so that they can perform their duties. One of the best ways to build strength and stamina is by eating nutritious foods. Here are some tips on how to start.

Develop new habits

Eating healthy usually requires developing new dietary habits, but that doesn’t have to happen overnight. Small changes over time can make a big difference. You might begin with some of these suggestions:

  • Limit your sugar. Try drinking water instead of soda or sugary sports drinks.
  • Lower your sodium. Start reading labels to see how much sodium is in a certain food. Buy “reduced sodium” items whenever possible.
  • Eat lean protein. Eat less fatty red meat and more chicken, seafood, beans, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
  • Choose whole grains. Whenever possible, eat whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat over “refined grains” like white bread, pasta, and anything made with flour.
  • Snack on fruits and vegetables. Instead of reaching for the chips, try cutting up some carrots or eating an apple instead.

Explore the farmers market

Not all foods are equal when it comes to nutrients. The fresher your produce is, the more nutrition it offers. Your local farmers market is a great place to shop for fresh produce at a reasonable price. Whether it’s just a roadside stand or a gathering place for local producers, you’ll want to find a farmers market near you. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • The food is as fresh as you’ll find anywhere. Most produce is brought to market within hours of being picked.
  • You’re getting nutrition to the max. Eating food grown close to home and recently harvested has many health benefits.
  • Local farmers grow seasonal foods, which tend to be less expensive and are fun to cook with.
  • You get to speak with food experts — the farmers — who can teach you how to use the produce, grow your own food or share some great recipes.
  • You can find a list of farmers markets in the U.S. in this National Farmers Market Directory.

Check out the commissary

Another great resource for eating healthy on a budget is the military commissary, which sells groceries and household goods at an average savings of more than 30 percent. Before your grocery run, visit the commissary website, a great network of information where you can:

  • Snag simple, healthy recipes for your meal planning or last-minute meal.
  • Make your shopping list with the My Shopping List tool.
  • Review the Savings Aisle to see what's on sale for the week and preview the promotional prices before making your shopping list.

Sharing your healthy lifestyle with your children

Share your nutrition goals with your children. The 5210 Healthy Military Children program can help you put a concrete plan into action by providing tip sheets and other resources. The number “5210” stands for:

  • 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables. Prepare meals and snacks at home using fruits and vegetables, and teach kids how to make healthy foods.
  • 2 or fewer hours of screen time. Make television, video games and the internet less convenient to use, turn them off during meals, and make sure children are doing activities that don’t involve screens.
  • 1 or more hours of physical activity. Look for fun activities your family can enjoy together and use the activities as incentives instead of food.
  • 0 sweetened beverages. Sweetened beverages add extra sugar and calories to the diet, so encourage children to drink water or low-fat milk instead.

As a service member — or part of the military family — you need the right fuel to stay energized. Eating well allows you to perform your job to the best of your ability. These suggestions can get you started on a path to good nutrition and good health.

For more healthy advice, check out the Military OneSource Health and Wellness Coaching program, a free resource for eligible service members and family members.