Eating Right, a Good Way to Stay Healthy


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By Bruce Whetten

Published in the Douglas Dispatch January 31, 2018

 Eating right and getting plenty of exercise are two ways we can stay healthy. Pamela Oliphant, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Chiricahua Community Health Centers Inc. has spent over 30 years as a clinical and consultant dietitian utilizing her strong interest in cooking, gardening, and cultural foods to assist patients with meeting their nutritional goals. She, however, has been with CCHCI for just over a year. Oliphant advises people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or to achieve a specific health related goal. She also provides therapy to patients with diabetes, cardiovascular or high blood pressure, who may have digestive problems, or need to gain or lose weight, want to eat smarter or just need some simple guidance.

I researched Douglas before I moved here and I saw a need for my services in this area,” she said. “I saw obesity was one of our biggest problems with health.” Oliphant says she is very busy and serves clients in Douglas and Elfrida plus she does outpatient care. “Part of what we need to do is not only eat right but making sure we’re exercising and moving every day,” she said. “The number one thing that comes up in our conversations are the sugar sweetened beverages in a big problem that can lead to obesity like soda’s, sweet teas, sports beverages and even a lot of juice can lead to a problem with our health.”

Oliphant says she encourages the youth she sees to have at least 60 minutes of activity daily and that is not the case locally. “Instead they’re having four to eight hours of screen time a day which is not healthy,” she said. “Those recommendations are less than two hours a day.” Even a 10 minute fast paced walk is good; something to get you going. The local stores that have carts people, like the elderly, can push is good. “We have some great parks here that lend itself towards exercise,” Oliphant said. “Airport Park even has those exercise stations.” Oliphant even noted the sports drink Powerade is not good unless you are coming off an exercise because of the contents it contains. “We really need to drink more water,” she said. “One of the things we often times talk about in sessions is drinking an eight-ounce glass of water right before you eat. That will help control your appetite and help you feel fuller, faster.”

For those who like to snack Oliphant encourages fruit and vegetable based snacks such as an apple and some almonds. “Nuts are good for you but they also have a lot of calories so we encourage portion control of nuts so they are not getting too many calories,” she said. “Low fat cheese sticks are great too for those on the run. You can also cut the apple in half and place a tablespoon of peanut butter or almond butter.” Oliphant sees the adults becoming a good role model for the children and says a lot of what she’s emphasizing starts at home. “I see the adults having a huge impact on how the children are eating,” she said. “If they are making healthy choices and developing healthy habits like walking every day, doing some type of exercise, bringing the correct foods into the house … and trying not to overdo the fried foods or take out foods … this is what children learn and where we can make a huge impact.”

Oliphant said using corn tortillas over flour tortillas with a smaller portion of whole beans rather than the refried beans with fad added is another way to start eating right. “Two whole grain corn tortillas are better than half of a flour tortilla,” she said adding that obesity is one of the leading causes of diabetes and the type of diabetes we get mostly down here is the type two diabetes. “A lot of this is portion control,” she said. “You can even work that soda into your diet but the portion of soda for an adult is eight ounces. The most common size you see these days is 20-44 ounces.” An average soda can nowadays is 12 ounces and will have 10 teaspoons of sugar in it which is about 150 calories. “If you were to take 150 calories out of your diet evert day for a year you’d lose 15 pounds of weight,” she said. “Someone told me just the other day one of their in-laws have quit the sodas and dropped 25 pounds.”

Oliphant encourages family walks which will help instill good habits in their children. “There are choices we all can make that are pretty healthy,” she said. “In general, it’s less calories, more movement. That is what is going to help our obesity problem.” March is National Nutrition Month and Oliphant plans on making some presentations to students at Douglas High School about ways they can eat healthier. For more information about your dietary needs or questions contact Oliphant at the CCHCI Jennifer Ryan Clinic on F Avenue or call her office at (520)-364-3285.

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