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25 June 2024 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Hosts Workshop on Healthy Lifestyles for Firefighters

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Hosts Workshop on Healthy Lifestyles for Firefighters

25 June 2024

Yesterday, the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) held an educational workshop for its firefighters on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The workshop was presented by Lize Esterhuysen, a registered Dietitian and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Recognizing the critical role that firefighters play, GRDM organized this session to emphasize the importance of health and wellness for these vital members of the organization and the community.

The session was both interactive and informative, featuring practical examples to enhance understanding. Esterhuysen covered a range of essential topics, including:

  • Total Energy Expenditure
  • 5 Step Plan for Goal Setting
  • Body Composition
  • Eating for Sustained Energy
  • High-Quality Protein Sources
  • Types of Healthy Fats
  • Understanding the Microbiome and Important Foods
  • Tips for Selecting and Preparing Healthy Food

During the workshop, firefighters received valuable advice on reading nutrition labels, planning weekly menus, and the benefits of using fresh or frozen produce. Emphasis was placed on ensuring each food group is included in every meal.

The goal-setting process was a major highlight, comprising five critical steps:

  1. Define Your Goals: Discussing what firefighters aim to achieve and why focusing on a healthy lifestyle is crucial.

  2. Start Small: Participants wrote down three small dietary goals they could implement immediately.

  3. Plan Ahead: Encouragement to plan meals and snacks for the week and prepare in bulk to save time.

  4. Add, don’t Subtract: Exploring ways to enhance usual meals with healthier additions. For example, adding nutritious ingredients to a mince pasta dish.

  5. Eat real food: To focus on whole foods, encouraging the consumption of fresh, unprocessed foods with a short shelf life.

Lize Esterhuysen provided a thorough explanation on the importance of gut health for firefighters, emphasizing its critical role in overall well-being and physical performance. She highlighted that a healthy gut supports better nutrient absorption, stronger immunity, and improved mental health—all crucial for the demanding nature of firefighting. To actively support and improve gut health, Ms. Esterhuysen advised incorporating a diet rich in fiber, probiotics, and prebiotics, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fermented foods. She also stressed the importance of staying hydrated, managing stress, and avoiding processed foods to maintain a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.

Through these examples, firefighters were able to apply the workshop’s principles to their daily lives.

Feature Image Caption: Dietitian Lize Esterhuysen with some of the GRDM Firefighters who attended the information session.

Activities during the healthy lifestyle workshop