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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Eating Well


Refuel the Stomach and the Combine!

Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension


When farmers get behind the combine wheel, about the only thing that will stop them is an evening dew, sleet, or a downpour! Food often isn’t tempting enough unless it can be eaten on the go - this is the story from our house.

Don't just stop to refuel the tractor, 18-wheeler, or combine. Take a break and refuel yourself with an energizing snack! An empty stomach and a dehydrated body can lead to an accident.

Accidents aren't ever planned, but we can plan to prevent them. Accidents often happen when one is tired, in a hurry, or hungry. Judgment becomes impaired leading to a few accidents and many close calls. Healthy eating habits can be one accident prevention strategy. Farm workers need to learn to “graze” when they are working extended hours in the harvest field, doing chores, or attending to daily tasks. Grazing means snacking or having mini-meals throughout the day. This helps to keep the blood glucose levels fairly even, therefore, keeping one alert and satisfied. When the blood glucose is sent on a roller coaster ride with hit and miss meals many hours apart, we have drowsy, sometimes grouchy, farm workers who put themselves at risk when it comes to their safety, especially when around machinery.

So how do you safely graze when you are in the back 40? This question has two answers. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. If you have hot "carry-out" food, eat it promptly and toss leftovers.

A cooler filled with an ice pack or even frozen water bottles, will keep fruits, carrots, cheese, and sandwiches at a safe temperature for several hours. It also makes eating convenient and that may be the key when one is hurried.

Or you can have a stash of snacks you can graze on throughout the day. This can be a jar of peanuts, boxes of juice, raisins, popcorn, crackers, pretzels, granola bars, cereal, etc. Whatever you might grab off the counter to eat could also be in a box in the tractor, combine, truck or pickup.

Also, take plenty of liquid with you. It can be water, juice, milk, coffee, or another beverage. And when you need a drink, avoid drinking and driving! Too many accidents have happened trying to retrieve a spilled soda can or trying to get control of a “runaway” lunch!

Skipping or delaying meals is not healthy. It’s just like sending kids to school without breakfast - they aren’t the best learners, they are irritable, and they are often sleepy. And they are only behind their desk rather than a big piece of equipment.

Just as one fuels, greases and inspects equipment to keep it in good shape, we need to do the same to our bodies through regular, healthful eating. Learn to graze and do it well. Yield to fatigue, stress and hunger. Take a break and have a snack. Wishing you a safe harvest.





Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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