Being a Tradie is a physically demanding role and taking care of the body should be a priority, right? Wrong, research shows Aussies Tradies take better care of their tools, than their health. This Tradies National Health Month, Lite n’ Easy will be shining a light on the roles of food and nutrition, and exercise and well-being in the lives of Tradies!
Just like when you are building a house, it is important to get the foundations right. Tradies can start by building small habits that support their well-being and their trade by being sharper on the job. Having a physically active and demanding job requires nutrient-dense foods to assist with optimum performance at work and at home. Eating the right foods will help Tradies to support their muscle strength, maintain healthy body weight and have more energy.
Tradies often get a bad rap for poor food choices, with early morning coffee and doughnut runs, servo stops for a pie or an afternoon energy drink boost. Although these options may seem quick and easy, these foods are often high in saturated fat, added salt, and added sugar and low in important nutrients such as protein and fibre. Like many Australians, Tradies often don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. A poor diet can lead to many health problems such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Younger Tradies may not see the impacts of a poor diet because of their active lifestyles but eating this way can still cause health problems and lead to unhealthy eating patterns in the long term.
Tradies can get the full potential from their day by making small changes to build a healthy diet and lifestyle.
It is important that you prioritise drinking water throughout the day to help stay hydrated. A cold soft drink may seem more appealing than water, but it won’t help with keeping you hydrated.
It is also a good idea to limit the consumption of sugary beverages such as iced coffee, soft drink or energy drinks. These beverages often give you a temporary spike of energy due to the high amounts of sugar and caffeine, but they will most likely leave you feeling tired again. After a long day, it may also seem appealing to have a cold stubby but this can also leave your body feeling dehydrated.
Keep water as your main drink throughout the day and consider swapping some of your beverages to low sugar alternatives, such as:
Flavoured mineral water
Top tip: always keep your water bottle handy, this is especially important in warmer weather.
Having regular meals will help to keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day. Giving your body and brain a chance to take a break will make sure you are able to concentrate and keep you sharp on the job to help prevent accidents from happening.
Having well-balanced meals that include healthy sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats will help keep you energised and get you through the workday.
Packing healthy snacks that are easy to eat between meals is also a good idea to help keep your body fuelled throughout the day. Some snack options may include:
Fresh or canned fruit
A handful of nuts
Wholegrain muesli or nut bar
Hommus & vegetable sticks
Cheese and crackers
Top tip: try to have veggies or fruit at most meals and snacks.
Early starts can make it difficult for Tradies to prepare food in the morning so a little planning can go a long way. Start by buying a small cooler bag, that way you can keep your lunch and snacks fresh.
It may also be a good idea to skip the takeaway option and pack a healthy lunch the night before. It may seem tough to make these changes but try to start by packing a healthy lunch for just a few days of the week. Some good lunch box ideas include:
Sandwiches or wraps with lean meats, salad, avocado and cheese.
Leftover dinner. Cook meals with lots of veggies (fresh or frozen) and lean meat e.g. stir fry or roast.
Thermos of thick soup in the cold weather with a bread roll or pasta.
Getting enough sleep each night is as equally important as your diet. Sleep helps the body and mind to rest and refresh, which will improve your concentration and memory, judgement, reaction time and physical coordination. A good night’s rest will help with staying alert and reduce the risk of injury or accidents on the job.
Top tip: try to limit the use of your phone before bed as studies have shown this can really impact your sleep.
Many Tradies work outdoors and are at greater risk of getting skin cancer than people who work indoors. Tradies should remember to follow the 5 sun smart tips:
Slip on sun-protective clothing to cover as much of your skin as possible.
Slop on SPF30 or higher sunscreen and remember to reapply every 2 hours.
Slap on a broad-brimmed hat.
Seek shade, whenever possible and especially during breaks.
Slide on some sunglasses.
This is not just important throughout summer, but also during winter as the UV rays can still do damage on cold and cloudy days.