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Healthy eating advances AF readiness, mission success

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

Being "Fit to fight" is a widespread concept throughout the Air Force, but fitness isn't confined to exercise.

Making smart food choices can contribute to encouraging increased physical activity and improved nutritional decisions.

There are many resources available to Airmen, such as the Department of Defense's Go for Green program, or G4G. Available at most DOD dining facilities, G4G uses a green, yellow and red color-code to identify nutritious foods and make healthy food choices easier. Foods are organized based on their nutrition quality, which can impact an Airman's fitness, strength and health. 

"G4G helps service members make better choices which will give them more energy and in turn accomplish the mission," said Tech. Sgt.  Danielle Joe, 19th Force Support Squadron Hercules Dining Facility manager. "Most people want to make healthy choices, but sometimes get overwhelmed with options and different ingredients. Our aim is to simplify the decision making process by identifying healthy choices."

When selecting from the dining facility menu, keep in mind the significance of these labels:

  • Green: eat often

  • Yellow: eat occasionally

  • Red: eat rarely

Dietitians and sports nutritionists are also available to offer free advice and counseling on health related issues.

"We try to bring to light that it's not just about the types of food but the relationship you have with those foods," said Jill Hinsley, 19th Aeromedical Squadron sports dietetics nutritionist. "It's more than good and bad foods, it's how it (food choices) can be better."

Following these guidelines can promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce potential illness:

  • Balancing calories is beneficial, but food should be selected on nutritional value rather than calorie content

  • Have a colorful plate by eating at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day with the focus on vegetables to avoid excess sugar, including a variety of dark-green, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas

  • Have a palm-sized portion of protein with each meal to promote healthy muscles

  • Eat whole grains, the equivalent of at least three 1-ounce servings a day to potentially reduce blood cholesterol levels

  • Don't be afraid of fat in foods — healthy amounts can be filling and reduce overeating

  • Eat real food, which are items that can be hunted or grown

"Every individual is different; other than allergies and portion sizes, the diets should be very similar," Hinsley said.

For more information or to set up an appointment, contact Jill Hinsley at (501) 987-7288.