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Healthy eating habits important

(CIFN file photo)

PONTIAC – Are you thinking about reaching for that Twinkie in the tractor cab? Think again.

Healthy lunches and snacks are crucial during the busy spring planting season. Since many farmers sit in the tractor all day, they cannot always leave to get food so what is in the cab is what they are going to eat. It’s important to make sure that meal is balanced.

“Have some fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein as well as a little bit of low fat dairy. Then, we want snacks to have fiber as well as protein and stick to around 100-200 calories,” said Carly Francis, a dietician at OSF St. James John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac.

Some healthy ideas to stay full throughout the day include apples with peanut butter, whole wheat crackers and cheese sticks. Francis reminds farmers that nutrition plays a big role in preventing chronic diseases down the road.

Mary Heath, manager of education and diabetes services at St. James, performed random blood glucose checks on farmers during an Ag Safety Fair held earlier in the year. OSF has a pre-diabetes program which identifies people with the condition.

“The studies tell us that if they don’t do anything about (having pre-diabetes), within five to eight years they may very well become diabetic,” Heath explained.

Those who may be at risk for diabetes have fasting blood sugars over 100 but not quite at 126 and the A1C numbers tend to creep up. The healthy program helps individuals make lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising more.

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