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FIFO Workers: Healthy Eating On-Site

The mining industry was number one on the list, at 78.2%, when Chris Jager from Lifehacker asked, “Are these the ten fattest professions in Australia?”

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A snapshot study of 35 men at a mine site in WA’s northwest found 83 percent were overweight or obese. Edith Cowan University lecturer, Gemma Quayle, documented the sample groups eating habits, and found they consumed excessive levels of sodium and saturated fat in their diet and had higher rates of obesity than the national average. Furthermore, over 80 percent had an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Quayle reported the workers ate less fruit, vegetables, dairy and grain foods than recommended while consuming lots of meat and unhealthy discretionary foods.

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Australasian Mine Safety Journal suggests poor health outcomes for on-site workers could be due to, “Work stress, fatigue and having easy access to high fat and high sugar foods when at camp can lead to poor eating habits.” Numerous factors within a mining site environment affect weight gain including shift work, camp food, high alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise. Subsequently, the strain put on the body from these factors become mental stress and can contribute to illness.

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I understand It is challenging to begin a complete revamp of your eating and lifestyle habits. Therefore, I suggest two areas you can act on today:

Get off junk food

Junk food has no nutritional value, other than satisfying an energy slump or covering up feelings of loneliness. Junk food decays teeth, lowers self-image and impacts heart health. The sugar in junk food does terrible things to the brain, such as impairing memory and learning skills and contributing to anxiety and depression.

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Drink more water.

Staying hydrated is a useful habit to improve your inner and skin health, energy and mood regulation.

A nutritionist explained what happens when you don’t drink enough water. “When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump, healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled-up sultanas, the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased, and this has ramifications throughout our entire body – our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

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Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand, so a must-have is a refillable environmentally-friendly water bottle, that many sites and workplaces provide in abundance.

A 2016 study found that mining employees are open to health-promoting programs and weight management assistance on-site. In my book Separated by Work I share various strategies to help FIFO workers and their families. I believe that with employer and family support, combined with the worker’s eating and exercise plan, the mining profession can be removed from the number one spot of ‘The ten fattest professions in Australian’ list.

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What do you think about the on-site health of workers? Please share your tips on how you and your family member stay healthy on-site and at home.

 

Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience, Separated by Work

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