If you are what you eat, then we’re all corn.

Camp Atterbury, IN -- The on-base Dining Facility (DFAC) used by Provincial Reconstruction teams here. It’s provided by the Army, so it’s not Air Force quality, but they have the BEST chocolate chip cookies! Sometimes, we eat meals, Ready to Eat (MRE’s.)

Camp Atterbury, IN —
The on-base Dining Facility (DFAC) used by Provincial Reconstruction teams here. It’s provided by the Army, so it’s not Air Force quality, but they have the BEST chocolate chip cookies! Sometimes, we eat meals, Ready to Eat (MRE’s.)

When I was back at McGuire AFB, pushing electrons at my desk all day, I had the luxury of watching what I ate. I had an informal diet that required me to avoid the no-no foods. You know … no trans-fats; no HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup.) I tried to eat lots of veggies. It wasn’t a solid plan, but it worked to keep me from blimping up.

Now, while I’m here at Camp Atterbury, it has become harder for me to stick to a healthy diet. The dining facility (DFAC) cooks to keep Soldiers fit to fight. That means lots of meat-and-potato-type foods that are more aimed at helping Soldiers build muscle mass and energy to endure the day than they are to help a wimpy Airman keep his figure. That said, the chow hall at Atterbury doesn’t make it easy to stay on a diet.

Sure they have a salad bar, but unless I eat salad every day, EVERY meal I have is going to have a portion of something fried, something drenched in grease, or something with high fructose corn syrup.

For example … Breakfast usually consists of fried eggs, pork sausage or bacon. They usually complement them with fried potatoes. Sometimes they offer chicken-and-a-biscuit for breakfast … fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit … covered in gravy. Tastes great, but not the best way to keep the arteries clean. Whatever breakfast meat I choose, it’ll be soaked in grease. They’ll also offer delicious waffles or pancakes (made from a batter which contains HFCS.) The syrup that goes on them is primarily HFCS. The butter I put on them is also primarily HFCS. I could substitute jelly for the syrup, but the jelly is primarily HFCS, too. They do have a fruit-bar … the pears and fruit cocktail are both soaked in HFCS syrup. The yogurt is HFCS based. They do have a cappuccino machine (which used a flavored HFCS-based syrup.) Oh, yeah, if I put ketchup on my fried potatoes, that’s also more HFCS. I usually get some fresh fruit in the morning. (They haven’t figured out how to put HFCS in that … yet.)

Dinner is usually a good choice of either a chicken or beef meat, but the chicken is usually fried and the beef is often cooked in grease … Also very delicious. Often the potatoes are fried. If they do serve vegetables, they are usually cooked in butter and salt (not steamed,) and I’m sure the butter is primarily HFCS-based or margarine. Of course, all of the deserts (chocolate cake and my favorite: chocolate chip cookies,) are HFCS based, too. They get kudos for not offering sodas in the chow hall, but their substitutes are mostly high-sugar drinks sweetened with HFCS (Gatorade, sweet tea, fruit punch, etc.) Even the chocolate milk has it.

I’m not knockin’ the chow hall here. They are doing their job and doing it well. For the training we’re doing, they’re making sure we’re fed right. And they do offer alternative choices so I don’t have to eat the fried, overly sweet foods. It is an Army base, after all. (It’s just that if I choose to avoid the bad foods, I’ll be eating salad three times a day, every day.) But I know that for the mission I have, they are giving me the calories and protein I need. But still …

I heard about a film called “King Corn.” I haven’t seen it yet, but it supposedly documents the impact corn has in our society … from the farmers who mass-produce it, to the food manufactures who put it in everything we eat. It made me think about what I eat and how I can continue to push my body if I try to eat healthy. Supposedly, corn plays a role in a large percentage of our foods. (Either as HFCS or fillers in processed foods.) So, if we are what we eat, then we’re all corn.

I’m actually committed to eating right, but while I’m in training here at Camp Atterbury I gotta tell ya … after a 5-mile ruck-march and a 3-mile run, followed by a day of shooting at the range, a salad and a glass of water just ain’t gonna get it! So, I think for this deployment, I may give my diet a reprieve. See ya later … I’m going to go eat!

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