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News | July 29, 2022

Nellis dietitians aid in readiness, improve performance

By Robyn Wolf, 99th Medical Group

Nellis Airmen train year-round to project airpower onto the battlefield. While each exercise provides valuable practice in executing military capability, the nutrition that fuels Airmen is often overlooked.

Registered Dietitians assigned to the 99th Medical Group work with Nellis Airmen to provide nutrition education and personalize nutrition plans in order to optimize their mental and physical performance on and off duty.

First Lieutenant Sydney Billingsley, a registered dietitian assigned to the 99th Medical Support Squadron, has collaborated with the 820th RED HORSE squadron to improve the squadron’s readiness and performance through diet optimization.

“We are teaching nutritional tools at home so they can tailor to the varied demands downrange,” said Billingsley.

The 820th RED HORSE squadron is a self-sufficient civil engineer and logistics unit, capable of providing rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments to support worldwide contingencies and special operations.

“With the 820th RED HORSE, the key words are rapid response,” said Billingsley. “It is important for them to maintain good nutritional status at all times.”

The posture of the 820th RED HORSE gives the squadron unique nutritional needs. Billingsley and her team seek to enhance members’ understanding of the benefits of proper nutrition.

“It can improve focus and improve mindset. When you have adequate nutritional stores you will be more alert, have more endurance, and be more task-oriented,” said Billingsley.

Registered Dieticians with the 99th Medical Group have completed a professional degree in dietetics as well as a competitive dietetic internship with rotations through clinical dietetics, community dietetics, and food service. Formal education prepares these dieticians to be well-versed in the science behind the relationship between food and readiness.

“We focus on the triad of proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep,” said Billingsley. “We also discuss and educate on food labels, meal planning, dining out, tobacco, and supplements.”

Staff Sergeant Kierra Sewell, Fitness Improvement Program Coordinator for the 820th RED HORSE, appreciates the valuable knowledge that Billingsley and her team have brought to the squadron.

“Bringing awareness to these topics can change not just your PT test score, but the way you take care of your health long-term,” said Sewell.

In addition to working with active duty service members, registered dietitians with the 99th Medical Group teach group classes open to beneficiaries, retirees, and Federal civilians enrolled to Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases.
Billingsley stresses the important role nutrition plays in maintaining a ready force.

“My goal is for all Airmen to have access to the nutritional information they need to be successful. Proper nutrition is valuable for every Airman,” said Billingsley.

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