MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Eating healthy can be difficult for people who have never attempted a diet before, given the amount of planning and will power that goes into such a decision.
Marine Corps Community Services’ Health Promotions offer suggestions on what to select when shopping at the Commissary with the “Buy This Not That” program held on the third Thursday of every month.
Andrea Aguirre, MCCS Health Promotions assistant director, said the main goal of the program is getting people familiar with the healthier available options at the Commissary.
“This is the first step in living a healthy lifestyle,” said Aguirre. “Where do people get their food? The grocery store. That’s the number one place that you go even if you’re going to start cooking healthy or reading nutrition labels. All the stuff you need to start with is at the grocery store.”
While the program focuses on the Commissary, knowledge
gained from this experience can help station residents eat healthier at Crossroads Mall or when returning to the United States where they have several different grocery stores from which to choose.
One topic of the program relates to shopping around the perimeter of the store.
“That’s going to have your dairy, meats, fruits and vegetables, plus the bread aisle which makes up your whole grains” said Aguirre. “People say that fruits and vegetables have free calories. They are not free calories because everything has a certain number of calories associated with them.”
Aguirre also said fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy diet, compared to chips, cookies and candy, which all have empty calories. It’s fine to have these types of food, but not in mass quantities.
While it’s evident the tour shows what to buy when eating healthier, choosing the correct portions is key to eating healthy.
What started off as the well-known Food Pyramid has become MyPlate, introduced by first lady Michelle Obama in June 2011. According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that are the building blocks for a healthy diet by using a familiar image—a place setting for a meal.
“By learning about what to include on your plate, you can then translate that at the Commissary or Crossroads,” said Aguirre.
As servicemembers, the difference between eating healthy and not isn't just a few extra pounds, it can mean falling out of weight regulations, or even failing physical fitness standards, mistakes which can end a good Marines career.