How to eat a healthy diet as a mine worker

Picture of a salad

Working FIFO? Your health doesn't have to suffer. Here are five tips to keep your waistline down while onsite.

Eating well can be tough at the best of times. Unhealthy food tends to taste delicious, and our busy lives mean it’s easy to look for a quick meal fix. For a fly in/fly out (FIFO) worker in the mining industry in Australia, this can reach another level thanks to an irregular schedule and significant time away from home.

In 2014, a study by Edith Cowan University examining the general health and eating habits of 35 FIFO workers in WA found that all of the participants had higher rates of obesity than the Australian national average. Furthermore, more than 80% of the surveyed workers were at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Gaining weight or failing to take care of your health is an easy trap to fall into – even without the added challenge of working away for much of the year. But with the stakes so high, it's important to look at what you can do to stay healthy while working FIFO.

Here are five ways to keep your waistline in check when onsite.

  1. Portion control

Before even considering what to eat, it is worth sizing up just how much you should put on your plate. With a smorgasbord of options in the mess hall, it’s all too easy to overdo it. Whether your choices are healthy or not, overeating will still lead to weight gain. Try to give yourself fist-sized portions of food. If you're still hungry after some time, then add a bit more, but avoid an overflowing plate first-up.

  1. Go for the greens

Maybe they won’t always be green, but you should always aim for a selection of fruit and vegetables (be it salads or otherwise) on your plate at every meal. Add them first, and ensure they make up at least half of your meal. You can then add your preferred meat and whatever else.

  1. Start the day right

Starting the day with junk food is likely to lead you to crave more junk food later. If you start your day with a healthy wrap or sandwich and some fruit, your energy levels will be higher through the morning so you won’t have to overdo it on the heavy, unhealthy food at lunchtime.

RELATED: Sacrificing lifestyle for FIFO. Is it worth it?

  1. Know your carbs

If you’re a sucker for carbs such as pasta and bread (we understand), work on switching out white bread and pasta for wholemeal (or brown) options. Not only is wholemeal healthier, but it will give you more energy to get through the day.

  1. Hit the gym

Part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise. Most sites are equipped with a gym and for those that aren’t, there are plenty of ways to keep fit while onsite. Check YouTube for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts that can be done without weights or a running track.

An often-overlooked benefit of FIFO work is the lack of outside distractions. While the working days are long, there are usually no long commutes or traffic jams on the way home and minimal other distractions, which all equals less excuses for not exercising.  

Keeping your diet in check onsite is important, but don’t forget to also maintain this in your R and R. MPi has some great tips to help, here.

FIFO mining employment is full of perks and challenges. For more tips on how to stay healthy and happy in your FIFO mining job, visit our newsroom. To learn about new mining job opportunities get in touch with our team of recruitment specialists.

Stephanie O'Brien
Mining People International