Ask a Health Care Professional – Healthy Eating

Ask a Health Care Professional – Healthy Eating


EUGENE SUN: The year is well underway and as you
work to sustain the resolutions made to ring in the new year, it is important to remember
that healthy foods play a key role in your health. Hi, I’m Dr. Eugene Sun, Vice President
and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico. Your health depends
a lot on what and how much you eat and it is important to understand the basics.
Food provides your body with the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. The basic
components in food includes protein which contains 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates
also with 4 calories per gram, and fat, with 9 calories per gram. One ounce of lean protein
or carbohydrate has 112 calories, and one ounce of fat 252 calories.
There are two main goals for good nutrition. The first is to achieve and maintain a healthy
weight by eating right and being physically active. The second is to consume a good balance
of nutrient-dense foods to meet your body’s energy and nutritional needs. The Dietary
Guidelines for Americans 2015 – 2020, at www.health.gov is a good source of information.
If you’re wondering what a healthy weight is for yourself, think in terms of body mass
index, or BMI, which is a measure of the relative size of a person based on their height and
weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. You can easily find BMI calculators
on line. The United States Department of Agriculture,
or USDA, recommends building your diet with five key foods; grains, vegetables, milk,
protein, fruits and oils which provide vitamins, minerals such as calcium protein and fiber. All of which is utilized
by your body to keep you healthy and strong. Depending on your age and gender, the USDA
recommends the following portions daily 6 to 10 ounces of grains, 2 ½ cups of vegetables,
1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of fruits, 3 cups of dairy and 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods such as
meat or beans. The number of calories that your body needs
depends upon your gender, age and activity level. For example, an active 30-year-old
woman needs about 2,400 calories a day, while a sedentary 55-year man only needs about 2,000
calories per day. If you are currently at a healthy BMI eating about as many calories
as you burn daily will help you maintain that. If you are overweight, you must burn slightly
more calories than you eat, to lose weight. Check with your doctor for help developing
a plan. A nutritionist or dietician can also be helpful.
A healthy diet doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy an occasional treat. We all enjoy snacks
whether it is ice cream, cake, potato chips or any number of other things that give us
pleasure. The key is to enjoy those in moderation as a small part of your overall, healthy eating.
Here’s to your health.

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