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May 16, 2013

Healthy Living: an apple a day keeps the doctor away

The last time we sat down with nutritionist and the coordinator for the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) and PAHO advisor, Evelyn Roldan, we spoke about the minimum amount of physical activity that your body requires. This week’s Healthy Living looks at another important element of a healthy lifestyle: Eating healthy means a balanced and well portioned meal.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, obesity, cancer… These are only a few of the health problems that many Belizeans are battling. One of the common risk factors for all is your diet.


Evelyn Roldan, Nutritionist, PAHO/INCAP

“What we’re doing is trying to identify the factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease in Belize…only in Europe.”


Evelyn Roldan

The Study of Dietary Factors being conducted by a group of universities will be one way of being able to clearly identify what it is that makes Belizeans at risk for these non communicable diseases. One thing health officials know for sure is that the regular Belizean diet is a recognized challenge.


Evelyn Roldan

“Intake of staples are really high. What I mean by staples are especially foods that are high in starch: rice, anything that comes from flour and anything that comes from starch. The big one is sugar. I’m not saying it’s completely bad but the sometimes the amount we’re drinking especially is really high in soft drinks and juices.  Sometimes we don’t realize how much salt we’re eating. We don’t usually add it some people do, when you add it to your food. That’s not where you get all your salt. It comes especially from canned products anything that comes in a package is usually high in salt because it’s used as preservatives.”


Some unsuspecting sodium-packed foods include diet sodas and other pre packaged sweet foods.  Adding to the problem of our high intakes of starches, sugar & salt is the lack of proteins and fruits and vegetables.


Evelyn Roldan

“Sometimes people here in Belize go through an entire day without eating any fruit or vegetables. If you do you eat it will mayonnaise or sour cream which is high in fat and you’re eating vegetables but not the right way.  Sometimes I find that people don’t get a clear idea of how much is too much or too little. Here is an example of what a breakfast should look like. You say this is the amount of beans you should be eating. You can have beans…this is the amount…and it have variety.”


Most of grew up learning about the US’ template of the Food Pyramid; which has now been morphed into a food plate so people can better understand what to include in their diet. Belize launched last year, its own food dietary guidelines: The food basket.


Evelyn Roldan

“You have to include a little bit of everything on your plate to get a proper balance. Not be eating too much carbs and not enough protein or vegetables or fruits. If you don’t like egg, you can substitute with some cheese…four tortilla…you have something more like this; one pot spoon of beans, one pot spoon of rice.”


While adults can use one pot spoon or half cup as their measurement, a child’s serving is obviously less. As for preparation, cutting back on fat is the only way to prepare healthy meals. On average, we, as adults should not be consuming more than three to five tablespoons of oil per day.


Evelyn Roldan

“Food taste good; if you really like something you shouldn’t stop eating it entirely…eat it less…if you have fry jacks for breakfast everyday then that’s an issue. Find your motivation; what motivates you to be healthy.”


Of course, the cardiovascular study will provide a wealth of information about our eating habit and even potential genetic predisposition.  For those who are interested in partaking in the study, there are still a few spaces available.


Evelyn Roldan

“It is very important to find out what is happening. Why we’re getting so many unhealthy persons. So anyone who wants to contact us, they can get us here at the nursing lab. The only requirement is…one kid and both of his parents…it has to be biological parents.  This will help to give us a clear idea of what is going on. What are people eating and what is in the content of people’s food; so that we can be able to identify key elements on how make plans or policies that affect all of these problems that are affecting Belize. In the longer run, it’s even more expensive to treat these diseases than to prevent them.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Healthy Living: an apple a day keeps the doctor away”

  1. Storm says:

    The American “food pyramid” was actually a marketing program paid for by the US beef, egg, and dairy industries — it was never based on sound health science. It really should be ignored.

    Studies over the last several decades show that the “Mediterranean diet” and “Asian diet” are a lot more healthy, reduce the risk of heart disease, cancers, and diabetes, to name a few. They greatly reduce red meat, eggs, and dairy, and focus more on grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish.

    Check out [Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine] and [website for Dr. John McDougall, rated the "best physician in the U.S." by the PCRM] for more information on healthy diets and nutrition according to the latest scientific research.

  2. Seletar says:

    I’m interested in this subject, and I have a basic question I’d like to ask Ms. Roldan, because it is not mentioned in the story: What scientific research is our “Food Basket” based on?

    If the old “Food Pyramid” was a marketing program, based on greed instead of science, how is the “Food Basket” different?

    I’m going to research more on the sites Storm mentioned, and see where it takes me. I don’t want to eat my way into disease, illness, or bad health, and I believe facts will be my best medicine.

    P.S. It took me just 2 minutes on the Internet to find an interesting item that concedes that the “food pyramids” promoted by the US government are “influenced by industry interests,” that is, AGROBUSINESS LOBBYISTS. It also mentioned that several MORE SCIENTIFIC pyramids have been developed, and described them.

    Here’s a link to that article:

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