Power Food For Law Enforcement

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 6.19.23 PMFueling the human body in extreme situations has become a science and law enforcement officers deserve to have the best nutritional knowledge and high-energy food products available to them.

Whether you work the streets, corrections, long duration investigations or emergency call-outs you deserve to have the best possible nutritional information and high energy food available to you to keep you performing at your peak capacity. You deserve it and so does your public.

Law enforcement officers should be fueling their bodies properly with fresh, nutritious foods and have the best possible high-energy substitutes available for emergency or long duration situations.

To that end we would like to gather as much information as we can to help. We want recommendations from law enforcement officers and nutritional professionals on what you should eat and what you should carry with you during your work shift to fuel you during an emergency or long duration call.

We want your input.
1. What do you pack in your power lunch?
2. What do you keep with you for emergency food in case you don’t get a meal break?
3. What do you keep long-term in your car or go-bag for emergency food

Eating the right things and knowing what to eat has long been a challenge for law enforcement officers. Some of us do this well and many do not. Obesity is becoming a problem in our profession.

A couple of years ago CopsAlive.com contributor Sgt. Mark St. Hilaire warned us about the dangers of obesity and eating fast food. In his article entitled “Depressed About Fast Food?” Mark wrote

The Public Health Journal reported a recent study which indicated that eating fast food is linked to a greater risk of suffering from depression. What types of fast food? The usual suspects: commercial baked goods, cakes, donuts, croissants, pizza, hamburgers and hotdogs. The classic part of a law enforcement officer’s basic working diet.

The study indicated that the participants who eat the most of these fast foods and bakery items are most likely to be single, less active and have poor dietary habits. Smoking and working 45+ hours a week are part of these group’s characteristics. Once again, take a guess which group may fit this category? Police officers and other law enforcement professionals.

Mark had some great recommendation for us like:

Eat good nutritious whole foods including omega-3 fats, a multi-vitamin with minerals supplement and water.

• Pack your own meals in a cooler bag. Take it to work, extra private detail duty or in the cruiser on patrol.

• Fill that water bottle. Fill your thermos bottle with a hot beverage you enjoy (watch your sweeteners) especially during the overnight shifts when these beverages are limited.

But several years have passed and the situation for law enforcement officers doesn’t look much better with evidence like a December 2014 Time magazine headline: “Law Enforcement Is The Fattest Profession, Study Finds”Source: http://time.com/3637967/police-officers-fattest-profession-study Web accessed 4-29-15
The Time article reported: “Police officers, firefighters and security guards have the highest rates of obesity of all professions, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. According to the Wall Street Journal, 40.7% of police, firefighters and security guards are obese. Other jobs with high obesity rates include clergy, engineers and truckers. On the other side of the obesity scale is a grouping of economists, scientists and psychologists, with an obesity rate of 14.2%.”

We thought it would be time to revitalize this subject and give our readers some tangible and useful information about what foods to pack in your brown bag lunch and what kind of high energy food is actually good for you in an emergency.

We would also like to get some suggestions about what quick and easy packaged high energy food is able to stay in the truck of your car in your go bag for a couple of months.

Here is what many experts on the internet have to share:

Cooking Light magazine had some suggestions for 13 Brown-Bag Lunches on their website at:

Shape magazine on their website offered suggestions for 10 Quick and Healthy Brown Bag Lunches at:

WebMD in their article entitled: “Cheap and Healthy Brown-Bag Lunch Ideas (for Grownups)”
wrote “make sure your lunch is balanced, experts recommend. Lunches that include some lean or low-fat protein along with carbohydrates will keep your body fueled for the afternoon, says Connie Diekman, RD, president of the American Dietetic Association. “The combination of protein and fiber from whole grains, beans, nuts, vegetables and/or fruit will give you the most satisfying and nutritious combination of foods that will keep you feeling full until dinner,” she says.

Commonly recommended quick items include:

Whole wheat pita bread
Baby carrots
Apples & oranges
Can of light tuna in water
Grilled chicken breasts
Peanut or other nut or seed butter

Our friends Mark Sherwood, ND and Michele Neil-Sherwood, DO give us some great information on their blog:

General Nutritional Tips
Include as much fresh food as possible. Eat mainly fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds and good clean protein.
Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast food. Get rid of it if you can.
Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Eat more vegetables than fruit.
Aim to color your plate with variety and different colors of vegetables.

Also read their articles on:

The AntiInflamitory Diet

Eating Fast Food

Healthy Eating Out

My favorite celebrity chef Candice Kumai has some great recommendations in her various cookbooks and you can find some of her suggestions here:

USA Today Article – Nutritionists compare the best on-the-go snack options in May 2015 at:

Great article by Kate Morin on Greatest.com from July 21, 2014 entitled:
“31 Healthy and Portable High-Protein Snacks”

Another great article by Alexandra Duron on Greatest.com from November 19, 2014 entitled:
“21 Healthy and Portable Energy-Boosting Snacks”

If you want to learn more, here are the reviews of various experts on common sports or high energy food products:

Review – The Protein Bar Power Rankings — 30 Popular Bars Torn Apart And Ranked
On the LeanItUp workout blog June 2013:

Here’s a very comprehensive article from REI on “How to Choose Energy Food and Drinks”:

“Energy Bar Analysis and Comparison. Let the Data Speak”.
from Feb 2012 on the Athletic Minded Traveller Blog:

“Comparing Energy Bars
Understand different sources of energy for hiking and backpacking” on the Wild Backpacker blog:

“The 5 best and worst nutrition bars” from July 2012 on the Well and Good Blog:

“7 nutrition bars that are worse than candy” from Feb 2013 on the Mother Nature Network blog:

“Are Quest Bars Really as Nutritious as Claimed?” from Dec 2013 on the Fooducate blog:

When it comes to keeping food in your car or go-bag here are some ideas for long term food:

“DIY Shelf Stable Energy Bars” by tomsweet65

Learn about U.S. Military MRE’s (Meals Ready To Eat) and Civilian MRE’s at:

It’s tough to know what to eat and particularly what to pack for a healthy, high energy meal when on duty as a law enforcement officer. We’ve given you some ideas and now we would like to here from you.

Please submit your comments or your suggestions in the “Leave A Reply” Comment Box below (don’t worry if it doesn’t appear right after you submit it. All comments need to be approved before publication – so please be patient!)

At CopsAlive.com we are conducting law enforcement wellness research to assist police officers and other law enforcement professionals stay healthy and resilient. We want you to survive the job. If you know of a nutritional expert of food company whose information should be represented here, please forward them a link to this article. It’s good for all of us!

Stay safe and eat well!

CopsAlive is written to prompt discussions within our profession about the issues of law enforcement career survival. We invite you to share your opinions, ask questions and suggest topics for us in the Comment Box that is at the bottom of this article.

At The Law Enforcement Survival Institute (LESI) we train law enforcement officers to cope with stress and manage all the toxic effects and hidden dangers of a career in law enforcement.

Our “Armor Your Self™: How to Survive a Career in Law Enforcement” on-site training program is an eight hour, hands-on, “How to” seminar that helps police officers and other law enforcement professionals armor themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to build Tactical Resilience™ and survive their careers in police work. To learn more CLICK HERE

The concept of “True Blue Valor™” is where one law enforcement officer has to muster the courage to confront a peer who is slipping both professionally and personally and endangering themselves, their peers and the public. It takes a system of organizational support and professional leadership to support and foster the concept of courage and intervention. We will train your trainers to deliver this program to your agency.
To learn more CLICK HERE

Our “Armor Your Agency™: How to Create a Healthy and Supportive Law Enforcement Agency” Program includes critical strategies that you will need to build a system of support and encouragement for a healthy and productive agency. To learn more CLICK HERE

CLICK HERE to read more about The Law Enforcement Survival Institute.

CLICK HERE if you would like to contact us to learn more about training for your organization.

I’m John Marx, Founder of The Law Enforcement Survival Institute and the Editor of CopsAlive.com. Connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

CopsAlive.com was founded to provide information and strategies to help police officers successfully survive their careers. We help law enforcement officers and their agencies prepare for the risks that threaten their existence. Thank you for reading!

About Editor

John Marx was a Police Officer for twenty-three years and served as a Hostage Negotiator for nineteen of those years. He worked as a patrol officer, media liaison officer, crime prevention officer and burglary detective. Also during his career he served as administrator of his city's Community Oriented Governance initiative through the police department's Community Policing project. Today John combines his skills to consult with businesses about improving both their security and their customer service programs. John retired from law enforcement in 2002. When one of his friends, also a former police officer, committed suicide at age 38, John was devastated and began researching the problems that stress creates for police officers. He decided he needed to do something to help change those problems and he wanted to give something back to the profession that gave him so much. He started a project that has evolved into CopsAlive.com. Put simply, the mission of CopsAlive is to save the lives of those who save lives! CopsAlive.com gathers information, strategies and tools to help law enforcement professionals plan for happy, healthy and successful careers, relationships and lives.
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  1. To add to Mark Sherwood’s post from July, as food companies and MyPlate.gov continue to recommend the inclusion of grains at every meal, it is important to know gluten has been proven to cause inflammation-even in healthy people. Yes, during a dietary change it is important to limit grains and gluten, and people probably should not be eating as many as they do. I have dramatically limited these from my diet but still love breads, muffins, and cookies. To that end, I have created a basic grain free muffin recipe high in Vitamin E, an important antioxidant, and they taste great. I have four flavors so far. Some of the ingredients are non-traditional, but all can be found at your local Walmart or grocery store. Here is one recipe for you to try. We have a small household, so this recipe makes six muffins:

    Pumpkin Walnut Grain-Free Muffins

    ¼ C Butter-Organic from Pasture-Raised Cows, softened (Organic Valley or Kerry Gold)
    3 Tbl. Truvia*
    1 Medium Egg
    ½ C Almond Flour
    ¼ C Bob’s Red Mill Bean Flour**
    2 Tbl Coconut Flour
    ¾ tsp Baking powder
    ¼ tsp Baking soda
    ¼ tsp Xantham gum
    ½ C Pumpkin (from a can)
    ¼ C Chopped Walnuts
    1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
    ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
    1 Tbl Apple Cider Vinegar

    Cream butter and Truvia. Add egg and blend well. Add all other dry ingredients. If batter is a little thick, add water as needed. The batter should have the consistency of a thick brownie batter. Scoop into six muffin tins lined with muffin liners. Bake 375 for 15-18 minutes. Cool and enjoy. I store these in a covered container in the refrigerator, letting them come to room temperature before eating.
    *Truvia can be found in the sugar aisle. It is blend of sugar and Stevia, and herb 150 times sweeter than sugar. This is a great way to start reducing sugar in your diet.
    **Any bean flour works. Bob’s Red Mill has a Garbanzo Bean and a Garbanzo and Fava Bean blend, both work well. Bean flours can be used to add fiber and antioxidants to your baked goods.

  2. Thank you Scott,
    For everyone else I want you to know that I have worked with Scott for a couple of years and he has amassed an amazing resource website. He is very supportive of law enforcement and I respect his vast knowledge of available resources that help many organizations. Please visit the Kalamazoo County Resource Nexus at: https://www.kcrnexus.org/ and the law enforcement specific page at: https://www.kcrnexus.org/law-enforcement.html
    John Marx

  3. As an individual who founded and operates a social service resource organization, I think this article is quite useful in addressing the topic and, very importantly, giving material to the reader to work with when they are finished. My organization, Kalamazoo County Resource Nexus, has a page specifically for Law Enforcement, and I am gladly adding a link to this article.

    One observation I have is that none of the links focus on quick, healthy meals for vegetarians and vegans; here is a webpage such dishes and the recipes to make them: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/recipe_slideshows/vegetarian_lunch_recipes

  4. As an FYI…. The popular opinion still (even by gov. standards) is to include servings of whole grains. As you know, this is a massive problem that lends itself to the increase of fats. That is why both Dr. Michele and I would say to limit those (especially early) during your nutrition change as they are very dense in calories, high glycemic, and low in nutrition.

    Dr. Mark

  5. Texas police officer is suspended from duty due to overweight. Let’s not wait for this to become end all. Let’s all work together for a solution to properly, safely and fairly address this serious health and fit for duty performance issue. Stay safe & Be well!


  6. Howard "Jake" Jaquay

    A Ziploc bag with a mixture of nuts and cranberries is an excellent take-along during shifts when the opportunity to take a complete meal break due to call loads is limited. This also has the advantage of quickly being sealed up for later consumption if, as often happens, your meal “break” is shortened by emergencies.

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