Cherry Point’s Naval Health Clinic nutritionist educates Marines, dependents on basics of nutrition

18 Feb 2010 | Lance Cpl. Amy A. Trail

Cherry Point’s Semper Fit Center offers a monthly weight management class to all active duty service members and their dependents aboard the air station.

“We offer this class to help with weight management and healthy nutrition,” said Michelle Amber, Cherry Point’s Naval Health Clinic clinical dietician. “Our goal is to educate people on how to lose the weight in a healthy way.”

The class covers general nutrition, the food pyramid and portion control. The class also educates people about  balancing their carbohydrates, fats and protein. A good portion of the class also focuses on an individual’s metabolism and ways to increase metabolism.

“We teach simple ways to reduce calories without starving,” said Amber. “We also stress the importance of exercise.”

Amber said Marines need to make sure they eat at least three times a day, but five to six mini-meals a day are highly recommended.

Amber added it’s important not to starve yourself. Starving yourself tricks your body into thinking it needs to store fat because it’s not sure when it will be fed again. Keeping your body fed also helps regulate your metabolism.

The class also covers striking a balance between how many calories you take in and how many calories you burn.

“One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories,” said Amber. “In order to lose one pound of fat per week, you should decrease your food intake by 500 calories per day and burn an extra 500 calories per day.”

The class also emphasizes the need to take in the right amount of vital nutrients while trying to lose weight.

“Your body needs six essential nutrients,” said Amber. “It needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water.”

Amber said carbohydrates are a major source of energy and provide the brain with the energy it needs.

“Your brain feeds off of glucose,” said Amber. “If you take carbohydrates out of your diet, you are starving your brain. The key is balancing your carbohydrates and the rest of your diet.”

Amber said fiber is also a very important part of a balanced diet.

“Fiber keeps things moving along,” said Amber. “Our bodies don’t digest it, so it helps clean your system out.”

The class stresses the importance of water and how much one should drink on a daily basis.

“You should be drinking at least eight to 10 glasses of water a day,” said Amber. “Water helps increase your metabolism, helps your body transport the nutrients you take in, and helps regulate your core temperature.”

Semper Fit offers a general nutrition class the first three Thursdays of each month. On the fourth Tuesday of every month, a support group offering one-on-one counseling will be available starting in March.

Anyone who wishes to set up an appointment for individual help with a nutritionist should call 466-0165 to set up an appointment.

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point