It’s the most wonderful time of year (so I’ve been told). Yet once again, I find myself deployed in the middle of the desert. Being over worked and stranded during the holidays is not very fun for most people, but somehow, we make it work. For example, planning a “White Elephant” gift exchange with our crew weeks in advance and ordering Santa hats so we can get in the spirit (or something like that). Every time I’m gone however, I get a couple people back home asking what I want for Christmas out here. I told my dad last week that all I wanted for Christmas was a nice, long, hot shower. He said that Home Depot probably couldn’t deliver in time (hah!). About a week ago, I wrote a post about what to get a minimalist traveler (like myself) for Christmas, which is full of items I use on the daily and totally love. In all honesty though, there is only one thing I could NEVER get enough of out here: FOOD. Let me repeat. SEND ME FOOD. We trackin’?
Every well-wishing person and organization (shout out to the amazing Nancy at Supplies for Soldiers) that sends these super amazing care packages out to our troops, seem to absolutely love sending heaps and heaps of sugary goodness. The problem? People (like me) who are trying to eat better, lose weight, and look good by the time they get home are tempted into eating these things and fall into a black hole of sugar consumption. Especially during the holidays, we get literal pounds of delicious candy and home baked cookies, which are almost impossible to bypass and say no to. I mean that would just be rude wouldn’t it? It starts with excuses as to why I need to eat these things, trying to drink more water instead of snack, and then soon becoming so engulfed in the treats that you don’t know where they all went. Whoops.
We have all see the transformations from pre-deployment to post-deployment bodies. Thinking that we can just show up on deployment and get there too no matter how much you eat. Right? While this can be true, it doesn’t really work for the average person, and definitely not for us females. Every time I catch myself in a constant sugar binge, I feel lethargic, unproductive, unmotivated, and even find that I’m less likely to make it to the gym after work. I call it the sugar coma. This creates an environment of people who obtain muscle gains, those who get fatty (or as I call them) “belly gains”, and those who flip-flop somewhere in the middle. While no one necessarily wants to be in the last 2 categories, it seems to happen with all the junk food available!
Healthy snacks? YES.
All I want in life are healthy things that I can munch on and not feel so much regret after. At home, I pre-portion, measure all my foods, and make sure that I’m getting quality nutrition. Out here though, that becomes quite difficult. As you walk through the DFAC (“dining facility” for you non-military types) you are presented with high fat, sodium drenched meal options that usually consist of over-/under-cooked meat, some sort of rice or noodles, and mystery whatever. After the main foods are a ton of bread options and condiments. On the final stretch, you hit pop tarts, protein bars, a ridiculous amount of ice cream, fruits (not too bad), a ton of various soda pops, three levels of cakes and cookies, and then cereal. See what I mean? There are not very many options for those of us trying to keep our junk food intake to a minimum. That is why my favorite care packages are the ones like my good friend Rachal (you’re the best!) sent me that consist of an array of healthy or at least “more healthy” snacking options. It doesn’t even have to be anything crazy. Just simple snacks that are lower in calories while still filling and great tasting.
Her assortment, for those curious, is shown below. It included all of my favorites. Chicken jerky. Pita crackers with hummus. Pretzel crisps. Dark chocolate acai berries. Dried mango slices. Protein cake bites. Hunter mix nuts. And of course a funny yet loving card (because what else are besties for??).
So, what now?
For those that are like me, we just need support and things to keep our minds off the junk. To focus. We love care packages as much as anyone else, don’t get me wrong. However, being supportive and thinking about what we can benefit from, shows that you care even more! It helps to know ahead of time what your deployed person likes and dislikes. Shoot maybe they do want all that candy! For me though, fruits and jerky, as well as crunchy chips like pita and pretzel crisps do the trick. This obviously changes from person to person. Next time you want to support our troops or send some love to a friend/family member over seas, make a conscious effort to look for what they like! I can guarantee you’ll make their day, or even their week! Have any deployment snack ideas to share? Leave them in the comments below!