Air Force uses TV cooking show approach to get personnel to eat better

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In some ways, military preparation begins with what the troops eat. The Air Force has launched an entertaining program to show its Airmen and their families how to eat healthier and love it. Kind of like the Air Force version of the French chef. Join the Federal Drive with Tom Temin with more information on the program and its goals, Air Force Medical Home Chief Col. Mary Anne Kiel.

Tom Temin: Colonel Kiel, it’s good to have you.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Thank you very much, Tom, I appreciate you having me here.

Tom Temin: Tell us what you’re doing here with the Air Force Medical Home. You produce, I assume, online videos and who are they for? And tell us about the content.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Absolutely. So it’s a program called Nutrition Kitchen. And it’s a pilot project that’s been going on for about five years, originally started by one of our Air Force endocrinologists, Major Philip Clerc, who was the mastermind behind it all. But our goal is really to partner with our Air Force Lifetime Performance Medicine Task Force to develop these series of educational cooking episodes to help our service members and their families recognize ways to improve their nutritional profile to improve their, not just their health, but also their day-to-day performance and how they feel. So we’re very excited about that.

Tom Temin: Kind of like life beyond Hamburger Helper, you might say?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Absolutely. Way beyond Hamburger Helper.

Tom Temin: And who are the stars of the show? Because we know that the military services have very good leaders in their ranks.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Absolutely. We have therefore presented with each recipe two episodes that go together to present each particular meal. And the first episode is a chef-curated version, where we have one of our culinary instructors from the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence located in Fort Lee, Virginia. And the chef gives us an idea of ​​the meal modifications and ingredient swaps that people can use for what we call tier two recipes. And then they also have chef prepared recipes that are completely from scratch that we call our level three upgrades. And these are also very exciting. And then the second part of the episode is one of our registered dietitians who was at Travis Air Force Base, going into more detail about the science behind the nutritional choices they make in the chef’s curated version .

Tom Temin: Sure. And they’re videotapes, then, aren’t they?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Absolutely. They are being filmed, we currently have five episodes released and one which should actually be released at the end of this week. And they’re available on the Air Force Medical Service website and also with YouTube links, so anyone who wants to learn a little more about improving their nutrition can access them for free.

Tom Temin: And that’s for Air personnel and families who might be living in ordinary accommodation, who just need to up the game when it comes to dinner time.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Of course. And it was generated and developed with Airmen and their family members in mind and from their feedback directly through surveys and trying recipes and things. Our goal is really to make them accessible to everyone, all service members and their dependents as well as retirees. Really anyone who wants to learn more about the small changes they can make to nutrition in their daily plans. I think people in general sometimes underestimate how profound everyday nutrition and food choices can be, not just for your health, but as I said, for your overall performance and resilience as a ‘To be human. So we hope people can access it very easily, take a few minutes out of their day to learn a bit more, and maybe try some of the tasty recipes we’ve featured.

Tom Temin: Yeah, and not to mention your waistline too, while you’re at it, I guess. And give us an example of the kind of upgrade to something someone could cook fluently that you offer.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Yes, we have quite a few hacks we like to call them in our overview videos here. But some of them for example swap your black beans for meat or at least half the meat and your tacos. We have a few recipes that highlight cereals, pancakes, and pastas that talk about making sure your grains have 100% whole wheat or whole grains on the ingredient list. And then using bananas and oats to make our other very well received recipe which was the oatmeal and banana pancakes version. We have received great feedback on these recipes.

Tom Temin: We speak with Air Force Col. Mary Anne Kiel, she’s the head of the Air Force Medical Home, and that’s part of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency. Do you measure the use of these videos by the number of viewers and have you already received comments?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Oh yes, we have been actively collecting statistics and data on their reception since their launch in early June. And we also have a post-viewing survey that’s available for people watching the videos to give additional feedback, so we can take that into consideration. We have had a very good response and reception of the videos so far. People seem to really like the recipes. They tried new things that they might not have considered trying before. So we’re really pleased to see how well it was received.

Tom Temin: And just tie in with this program and say, the meals that are served to air personnel, on bases and so on from Air Force kitchens to people who might be on active duty?

Marie-Anne Kiel: That’s an excellent question. And I think, of course, that, you know, the meals that we’ve featured here in the Nutrition Kitchen video series, are the ones that were selected based on the responses to our survey of active duty military personnel and their families. regarding the meals that they actively prepare at home most often. And our Lifetime Performance Medicine Task Force continues to work with other agencies within the Armed Forces and Military to make those recommendations that we have regarding ingredient swaps on their menus more standardized, but we have the Go for Green Performance Initiative program that uses a lot of these techniques on military bases in the cafeterias that serve food there. And we certainly want to make sure that we make that more standardized in our military nutrition environment. And I just want to point out that all of the ingredients that were used in these videos were purchased from the Commissary, and many of these foods are available in most Commissaries across the country. It is therefore quite easy for people to select the ingredients and then incorporate them into their home-cooked dishes.

Tom Temin: Can you get kale from the commissioners?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Absolutely.

Tom Temin: Not just to feed the turtle, but they actually feed your family, I guess.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Excellent source of fiber, wonderful for our health.

Tom Temin: OK. And earlier you mentioned that it was part of a five-year pilot program. But the videos have only been out for about five episodes, maybe tell us what happened before and what are your ultimate goals for the overall program?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Of course. So initially when this project started, as I mentioned, our project manager Major Phil Clerc started doing a project where he was serving the military and their families on how they would prefer to get their education nutritional, you know, a variety of different options. By far the most common that was mentioned was that they wanted an online nutritional cooking class, and much more than the traditional nutritional resources we offer at our typical military processing facilities. And we didn’t have any online nutritional cooking classes available at the time. And that’s where this project started. It obviously took several years of preparation to create the scripts and to move forward with financing and production, we had a very large multidisciplinary group of many health professionals, from doctors to dietitians, and our public affairs representatives and leadership as well, all of whom have played an active role in the development of the series. And we were very excited and happy with the results. Filming took place towards the end of last year. And then finally, as I mentioned, in early June, we started rolling out the videos. Our overall goal is to help our service members and their families improve their health and recognize that, you know, it’s important not just for our long-term health and longevity, but for how we perform and are able to do our job and be resilient. We want to make sure people focus on how they can prepare their body and mind for their next mission. And a lot of that has to do with food choices. That’s where our goal is to use this program as a resource to help people make those individualized choices the best they can every day.

Tom Temin: Okay, and we should point out that you know, where did you talk, you’re a doctor, in addition to being an officer, right?

Marie-Anne Kiel: Yes sir. I am a pediatrician and I always see the clinic weekly or bi-weekly. I’m the primary care manager for Air Force Medical Home, and you know, I work hard to help people recognize the small steps and the small changes they can take from a lifestyle perspective to help improve their health and also their longevity. It is exciting work.

Tom Temin: It’s that I’m going to watch these videos myself to see if I can improve on this next piece of meatloaf. Air Force Col. Mary Anne Kiel is chief of the Air Force Medical Home which is part of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency. Thank you very much for joining me.

Marie-Anne Kiel: Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure.