Filmmaking Nutrition: Clean Eating On Set
Filmmakers are faced with a particularly difficult challenge. I mean, just try navigating craft services without picking up something too sugary or full of carbs. Repeat after me: Clean eating is possible. Now that we positively affirmed ourselves, let’s talk about solutions.
The food that you eat every day has a direct impact on your health. While working on set, it’s easy to reach for that candy bar or soda for a quick burst of energy. But, let’s be honest, after such a sugar rush you’ll need to brace yourself for a meteoric crash.
If that weren’t challenging enough, who hasn’t worked on a set that goes into OT? Especially on lower-budget projects, what does production do? They order pizza. The cheese, bread, and sauce may fill your stomach, but they won’t help you generate the energy that you need to succeed.
Fortunately, the culture on set is changing. For instance, the Local 600 union helps its members by offering helpful tips to optimize their nutritional intake on its website. Although let’s be realistic, not everyone is a union member.
Filmmakers Academy is here to help! Discover below all of the creative ways to eat clean and stay energized while working on set.
Best Foods for Clean Eating
Clean eating is a way of life akin to exercise, meditation, and sleeping habits – all of which improve your overall wellness. Before revealing ways to work clean eating into your daily routine, let’s first identify some of the best clean foods. Just bear in mind that there’s no catch-all list of foods that work for everyone.
Some of us may have food sensitivities or practice a particular lifestyle or diet like veganism. So, take these recommendations with a grain of salt – and perhaps with a little turmeric, as well – but more on that shortly.
Let’s begin with our recommended shopping list that consists of the following:
- Meat, Eggs, Dairy
- Nuts & Seeds
Clean eating requires attention to detail, particularly in the form of reading labels. It’s absolutely essential to read and understand what’s in your food before consuming it. This means looking for additives and preservatives that are bad for your health, and identifying if your food comes from a farm versus, say, a pre-packaging factory.
Eating healthy can sometimes prove expensive, especially when considering food waste. That’s because foods like produce are highly perishable. They will go bad in a short amount of time. Luckily, technology has helped bridge the gap between some of these challenges. For instance, if you’re on your way home after a long day on set, you can use a service like Amazon or Instacart to deliver your groceries to your door. That way, you can order what you need in smaller quantities and without having to go through the ordeal of shopping for yourself after a long day on set.
Protein is so essential to your diet because it helps your body repair itself and generate new cells. That’s why it’s so necessary to work protein into your daily diet.
For meat-eaters, lean turkey, white fish, pork loin, or chicken that is steamed, broiled, or air-fried is ideal. You may be wondering, “Where’s the beef?”
Eating red meat on a regular basis could lead to devastating health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, like fish, it’s best to use moderation. In fact, speaking of fish…
While fish is healthy and a solid source of protein, it’s good practice to watch the amount of fish you eat per week due to toxins such as high mercury levels.
According to a Harvard publication, it’s recommended that you keep your seafood intake to 12 ounces which approximates to two seafood-centric meals per week.
There are plenty of delicious protein alternatives for our vegetarian, vegan, and no-meat readers. For instance, solid sources consist of:
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Egg whites (Depending on your dietary lifestyle)
- Organic powdered peanut butter
Clean Eating Vegetables
Better recognized as non-starchy veggies, these are not as substantial as yams or potatoes, that will fill your belly, but they are high in micronutrients and low in calories.
Non-starchy veggies range from leafy greens to root vegetables:
- Bell peppers
- Bok Choy
- Green beans
Over the past few years, we learned just how important healthy fats truly are. Not only do they effectively increase your metabolism, but they’re also good for brain health. In order to sustain yourself for long stretches between meals, your body requires healthy fats.
To sustain yourself for those long stretches, you need a little bit of healthy fat in your diet. For example, when starting my day, I do so with a salad with lean protein along with spreading healthy fats in the form of Ghee and avocado on a slice of sprouted bread. These healthy fats like Ghee and avocado leave me feeling full for much longer.
What makes a superfood so super? Well, the qualities that could define a superfood could range in a variety of positive traits. For instance, a superfood could include a high potency of a specific vitamin or beneficial macronutrients like fiber.
Here are some of our favorite superfoods:
Herbs and spices have long been used for medicinal purposes as well as adding extra flavor to your favorite dishes. Some spices contain nutrients and minerals that your body needs, while others serve as antioxidants.
For example, peppermint is especially effective against an upset stomach and rosemary is not only an anti-viral spice but also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
- Cayenne pepper
Foods to Avoid
When lunchtime rolls around, it’s easy to reach for comfort foods that taste good but leave you wanting to take an hour-long nap afterward. Working on set is stressful and exhausting. So, of course, you prefer what’s tasty and satisfying at the moment. It’s best practice to replace these urges with clean eating alternatives that you train your palate to desire just as much as you would a cheeseburger or dish of pasta.
You might wonder, what makes foods with too much salt and sugar so disastrous to your health? Well, chronic inflammation over time leads to disease and arthritis. Bad food choices can also destroy your gut microbiome. This is no good because your gut functions like your first brain.
Here’s what to avoid to improve your gut health:
- Artificial sweeteners
- Fried foods
- Alcoholic beverages
- Processed foods
- Sugary soft drinks
- Red meat
If you’re experiencing problems with your gut, then you should also consider probiotics and foods that are fermented or contain probiotics like sauerkraut, kombucha, olive oil, almonds, and yogurt.
A recent phenomenon is how millions of people now realize how they harbor an intolerance to gluten. This goes against the grain (literally) of what we were taught growing up – who doesn’t remember wheat and bread occupying the bottom and most important part of the food pyramid? However, they can be inflammatory and cause you to puff and bloat.
Also, bad news for oatmeal lovers out there. If you’ve been chowing down on oatmeal in the morning, it’s akin to starting your day by eating dessert. It’s a huge misconception because oatmeal is loaded with carbs that cause your energy level to plummet. That’s because the carbs break down into sugar. So, you have a quick burst of energy that later results in crashing.
Carbs are meant to accompany lean protein for a quick boost. If you’re running a marathon, then carbs give you the quick boost you need. However, what filmmakers need is nutrition that sustains them for at least a six-hour period. You can get that with lean protein and vegetables.
Meal Prep & Healthy Snacks
Understanding clean eating is one thing, but putting it to practice is something else. Meal prep doesn’t need to take a huge part of your day, but planning ahead of time can work wonders. Many of us find ourselves packing lunches for our children. We can simply do the same for ourselves – and this also includes snacks.
While snacking should be done in moderation, having clean foods on hand beats stopping by an In n’ Out drive-thru on the way home every time. Three things that you should always keep in your car at all times are a water jug, protein bars with minimal sugar and fat content, and your favorite nuts or seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, etc.).
You probably heard how when you’re hungry in the evenings after dinner, in actuality, your body is just dehydrated. It’s a similar concept for when you eat too many carbs and crash. You’re not actually hungry. In reality, you’re experiencing low blood sugar. One good way that you can counteract this feeling is with bone broth.
Here are some healthy snack alternatives:
- Plantain chips
- Pea chips
- Beef jerky (grass-fed) or turkey jerky
To keep your snacks fresh, store them in a trusty bag with an ice pack. Then, you could even get a little more creative with hummus and carrots, celery, and peppers. I recommend getting the small bell peppers because they last longer and are easier to manage.
Let’s face it, clean eating is a way of life. If you’re looking to make the change, do yourself a favor and break clean eating down into stages. First, identify what foods are best for clean eating and understand what’s in everything you eat. Second, avoid bad foods with carbs and high sugar levels by replacing them with healthy foods. You will have to change your palette and what your body yearns for in time. Third, you should work clean eating into your daily routine by planning ahead and even packing your meals, if necessary.
Clean eating with lean proteins and non-starchy vegetables helps you sustain your energy for longer periods of time. You feel better when eating clean. Part of cherishing yourself is understanding what your body needs. No longer are nutrients and minerals found in the soil like they once were. With factory farming and its unclean practices, you could potentially ingest foods that are detrimental to your health.
- Are you struggling with low energy while on the job? Well, we’ve got the solution for you! Transform how you approach set-life with Energy Management is Your Key to Success.
- Lack of energy is one thing but heavy eyelids are a whole other matter. Thousands of filmmakers struggle with a lack of sleep every day. We recommend reading Healthy Habits for Filmmakers: Sleep Wellness in order to get the most out of your sleep schedule.
*Disclaimer: This energy article is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice and treatment from your personal physician. Readers are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. The authors do not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person reading or following the information from Filmmakers Academy. All readers, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition or supplement program. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information presented is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.