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EATING RIGHT OFFSHORE-FOR SAFETY & HEALTH

As we are all aware, working offshore can be hazardous, even though many steps have been taken to provide the safest possible working environment. Following safety policies & procedures and using proper personal protective equipment are very important in preventing accidents. But what about eating correctly while working on an offshore platform or drilling rig?

Our bodies store glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen which is vital to our daily physical activities. During work periods the liver releases its glucose into the bloodstream, which muscle tissue picks up and uses in addition to its own stored glycogen. The glycogen which the body stores determines how much physical activity a person will be able to do before reaching total exhaustion. Once the point of exhaustion is reached, accidents are more likely to occur. How do we increase stored glycogen and avoid exhaustion? By eating a balanced diet high in complex carbohydrates.

What are carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are the prime source of energy during exhaustive work. Carbohydrates require less oxygen than fat to provide the same amount of energy, and are therefore more efficient, energy-producing foods. A study on food and energy was carried out with three groups of people who were given different types of diet. Group one consumed high fat & protein; Group two was given a normal diet; and Group three was placed on a high-carbohydrate diet. Each group then rode stationary bicycles to exhaustion. The resulting times it took them to reach exhaustion were as follows:

Group 1 (high fat & protein) - 57 minutes

Group 2 (normal diet) - 114 minutes

Group 3 (high carbohydrate diet) - 167 minutes.

As you can see, the high carbohydrate diet of group three increased energy levels and endurance. So how do we achieve this goal? Offshore catering companies offer many choices or alternatives to high fat foods at most locations. All it takes is for you to choose the right foods.

Use Low-fat or Fat Free dairy products

Choose high fiber cereal and whole grain bread

Use "light" or fat free dressings

Request skinless chicken, lean meats and ham instead of bacon or sausage

Drink Low-fat milk or juices, while avoiding caffeine

The complex carbohydrates you need for energy include whole grain bread and pasta, beans, fruits and vegetables-rather than sweet rolls, donuts or cookies which provide energy that is short-lived. Spaghetti with meat sauce will be better than fried foods or steaks. Between meals, stay away from candy and sodas-eat fruit or fat free desserts instead. Lunch is an important meal for restoring your energy after the morning's work has been done. Remember, what you eat before going to work will provide fuel to your muscles for several hours. Eating right helps reduce the tired or lazy feeling that comes after a high fat meal and lessens the chance for accidents. If you feel you can't "live" without them, save high fat calories for the last meal of the day when activities are less physically demanding.

Following these simple rules of thumb can make you a healthier and safer employee. A safe worker creates a safer work environment, which will increase morale, productivity and reduce accident costs. Take time to choose the right foods to eat. Remember, "We are what we eat."

 

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