Eat right and fat will take flight

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- (Editor's note: This is part two of a two-part series about the 509th Medical Operations Squadron Health and Wellness Center and their highlighting of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.)

Changing bad eating habits can lead to overall better health, but, for some, getting to the heart of the matter can be difficult without the proper knowledge on how to get there.

To help Airmen and their families learn how to "eat the best and leave the rest," the Whiteman Health and Wellness Center offers monthly commissary tours focused on promoting health awareness.

"Attending a commissary tour is an excellent opportunity to point Team Whiteman toward a direction of eating healthier," said Valerie Rogers, 509th Medical Operation Squadron community dietitian. "We familiarize consumers with how to read labels and help them make better decisions when grocery shopping."

During a tour, a registered dietician focuses on getting to know the needs of attendees and gives them one-on-one attention if they have any particular requirements or needs. Attendees have the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers about common grocery items, and are provided a comprehensive aisle-by-aisle tour of the commissary.

"Other topics I address pertain to maintaining a healthier diet, controlling portions, finding hidden sugars and possible fallacies hidden in labels, and teaching about nutritional value," Rogers said. "It can be easy to become confused about what is healthy and what isn't."

Poor eating habits can lead to numerous long-term health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, overall poor health and slow recovery from illness and injury, said Rogers.

"We show consumers different avenues to be healthier by teaching them about alternative choices they can make," Rogers said. "For example, we usually let them know that fresh is a better option."

While choosing the healthier road can be more time-consuming, it is certainly the better way to go, she said.

"We can also provide consumers with short cuts that can be helpful for them," Rogers said.

Staff Sgt. Brett Lodwick, 509th Munitions Squadron munitions systems craftsman, said he is glad he attended a commissary tour because his family learned how to better read food labels and not make food-purchasing decisions based on advertising, but on nutritional value instead.
"We also learned how important ingredients are when combined and when watching calories, sodium intake and sugars," Lodwick said. "Knowing how to keep a watchful eye on what we eat is really important. It was a good learning experience."

Lodwick added that he would recommend the commissary tour to anyone who has difficulty maintaining a healthy lifestyle or is curious about bettering his or her health.

For more information about healthy lifestyle choices or the commissary tour schedule, contact the Health and Wellness Center at 660-687-3438(DIET), or search WhitemanHAWC on Facebook.