I have 5 amazing nephews, one of whom happens to be a Marine. I was fortunate to spend time with him over the Labor Day holiday when he made an unexpected trip home, brimming with stories of weeks in “the field”, grueling training sessions, and of course, the food.
When he first arrived in California (a mere 12 months ago), I found it particularly endearing when he recounted his meals during our phone calls. He excitedly described meals loaded with fruits, veggies, and protein - no junk. This from a kid who was practically raised on junk.
As much as I don’t like to think about it, he’s being trained to fight – and that training regimen requires calories. Lots of ‘em. He’s young, he’s more physically active in one afternoon than most people are in one week, he carries 100+ pound packs for miles, and on occasion totes guns and other weapons that he’s told me weigh as much as I do.
He trains in conditions ranging from blistering desert heat to relentless rain and numbing cold. He has to be mentally and physically tough, and he has to be well-fed, getting plenty of nutrients that support both.
When out in the field, he carries his own food; Meals, Ready to eat, or MRE for short. He brought one home with him and demonstrated the preparation method. We all tasted “veggie burger in barbecue sauce” – it was fascinating, and I found the language on the box especially interesting.
“You are more active during field training, deployment and combat than in garrison. You need to eat more and drink more water or other fluids in these situations. When you don’t eat enough to meet your body’s energy needs, you lose weight. This can lead to a loss of body fluids and degrades your performance. In the field you NEED three meals per day. Restriction of food and nutrients leads to rapid weight loss which leads to: loss of strength, decreased endurance, loss of motivation, decreased mental alertness.”
And there you have it. Food = fuel = energy = improved performance and alertness; something even us civilians can benefit from.