March 24, 2023 at 8:08 p.m.

Nutrition for the non-ruminant

Ekovich stresses self-care for producers’ well-being

By Danielle Nauman- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. – With so many things to take care of on a dairy farm, too many times farmers might find that taking care of themselves falls to the bottom of the to-do list.
According to Morgan Ekovich, health and nutrition coach at Get Fit with ME LLC, that is not a good practice.
Ekovich shared how to properly fuel our bodies and develop healthy eating habits in her “Nutrition for the Non-Ruminant” breakout session March 15 at the Professional Dairy Producers’ annual business conference in Wisconsin Dells.
“Your nutrition and your health have a huge impact on how your farm and the rest of your life works,” Ekovich said. “If we are not able to take care of ourselves, it really makes it hard to show up in other areas.”
Ekovich stressed the importance of looking at the big picture when eating balanced meals, avoiding the mindset of counting calories.
“It isn’t realistic for busy people to count every single calorie or every single macro,” Ekovich said. “We want to look realistically at our plates and create a balanced meal.”
Ekovich said macronutrients are the foods we eat the most of and provide us with most of our energy. The three groups of macros consist of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
“When you eat balanced meals, you feel fuller, longer; you’ll support those muscles and all the moving you do all day and you’re going to have more energy,” Ekovich said. “Often, we don’t fuel our bodies the correct way, so we have these spikes and lulls in energy where we feel sluggish. Some of that is because we are super active, but a lot of it is because we’re not eating the right things.”
Other benefits of eating balanced meals include developing a stronger immune system along with stabilizing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Ekovich said maintaining or improving health through nutrition can reduce the need for many medications.
“By having a balanced diet and being able to live it every day in simple and easy ways, you’re going to be able to lower those risks, including things like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Ekovich said. “If any of those diseases run in your family, it is important to be aware of that and start now, rather than waiting until the doctor tells you it’s time to start taking medicine.”    
Understanding how our bodies metabolize the food we eat helps see the importance of providing balance in each meal, Ekovich said. She said carbohydrates are the first macro utilized by the body for energy, within the first 30 to 60 minutes following a meal.
“If you only eat a carb, with no protein or fat, you’ll find yourself hitting the lull within an hour,” Ekovich said. “Your body won’t have anything left to fuel itself, and you’ll need to eat again.”
With a balanced meal, once the carbohydrates have been metabolized, the body will then metabolize the fat in a meal, followed by the protein. Ekovich said that is why eating protein will make us feel fuller, longer.
“Your body has to work hard to metabolize protein, making you feel fuller, longer,” Ekovich said. “That is why protein is important in maintaining or losing weight.”
Ekovich said our bodies can be fueled for three to four hours following a balanced meal. She recommends having smaller, balanced snacks between the meals to continually provide fuel to our bodies.
“When you start to feel that lull coming on, have a balanced snack with a carb, a protein and a fat,” she said. “That will help maintain consistent blood sugar levels. You’ll have more energy and feel fuller longer, without over eating.”
So, what do those three groups of macros look like?
Carbohydrates include grains, fruits and vegetables and are the first foods your body metabolizes for energy, within the first 60 minutes after eating. Ekovich recommends focusing on choosing healthy fats in a balanced diet, such as nuts, nut butters, avocados, cheese and butter. Proteins include animal proteins, plant proteins and fish and seafood.
When developing a plan for balanced nutrition, Ekovich said it is important to think about the foods we eat in regards to how they fit into the three categories of macros.
“Protein is kind of what we want to prioritize,” Ekovich said. “When you plan your meals, start with the protein and work everything else around it. If you decide you are going to have a steak, you can plan your carb and your fat a little better than if you say, ‘I have an avocado; what goes with that?’ It is easier to plan your protein first because that is your priority to eat.”
What we cook with matters as well.
“Don’t forget that sometimes your food is cooked in a fat, and you don’t necessarily need to have a fat on your plate,” Ekovich said. “If my steak and potatoes are cooked in butter, that can be my fat.”
Ekovich said the busy and active days of a dairy farmer can be challenging when it comes to eating balanced meals and properly fueling their bodies and recommends planning and keeping a variety of items stocked to create balanced snacks, such as tuna packets, individually wrapped servings of cheese, packets of nuts and crackers.
Ekovich recommends investing in a good lunch box, compartmental containers and ice packs to make on-the-go balanced meals and snacks easier. Cooking in batches at the beginning of each week also aids in making balanced eating less time consuming.
When it comes to ensuring eating balanced meals, Ekovich said meal planning is important, using a list when grocery shopping and sticking to that list.
“I find if I don’t plan, I will just start throwing things together and I don’t always end up with that balance, and I can tell by how I feel,” Ekovich said. “If I know what I am going to eat, and I know that I have on hand what I need to prepare it, it makes things go better.”
Ekovich said there are several ways to make sticking to a list easier. The first is to avoid grocery shopping while hungry. She also suggests shopping the perimeter of the store first and only going down the aisles that have items on one’s list. That will help avoid impulse purchasing.
“If we learn to listen to our body, it will tell us what we need to be healthy,” Ekovich said.


You must login to comment.

Top Stories

Today's Edition



24 25 26 27 28 29 30
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 1 2 3 4

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

oct 4, 2023 @ 9:00am
oct 4, 2023 @ 12:00pm
oct 4, 2023 @