Guest Editorial by Thomas H. Ebert, MD
Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Health New England

From the Fall 2010 Newsletter pdf format of fybfall2010.pdf
file size 1MB

Taking charge of your health doesn't have to be hard or cost a lot of money. Making healthy life-style choices is a simple way to reduce your risk of many health problems. Eating a nutritious, well balanced diet is an important way you can start making a difference today. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans offers sound advice that will help to promote your health and reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis. The 10 Guidelines are grouped into the ABC's of nutrition:

A: Aim for fitness

  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active each day.

B: Build a healthy base

  • Let the Pyramid guide your food choices (log onto
  • Choose a variety of grains daily, especially whole grains.
  • Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Keep food safe to eat.

C: Choose sensibly

  • Choose a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and moderate in total fat.
  • Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugars.
  • Choose and prepare foods with less salt.
  • If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.

Source: USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion website at

Getting Started

Reading and understanding nutrition food labels is important. Food labels provide information on calories, serving sizes and nutrients.

Managing portion sizes is one of the greatest challenges. Here are a few tips to help you control your portions:

  • Use a smaller plate. Unless you are doing more than a few hours of exercise every day, you don't need big helpings, so you don't need a big plate to serve them on.
  • Cut your plate into 3 sections. First cut your plate down the middle, then cut one of the half's in half again.
  1. The large portion (half) of your plate should be made up of vegetables.
  2. Pasta or rice should only make up about one quarter of the food on your plate.
  3. Lean meat/poultry (protein) should make up the other one quarter of your plate.
  • Eat a piece of raw fruit before lunch and dinner. This will help you to eat a little less and help you reach your 5-a-day target for fruit and vegetables.
  • Slow down. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full. If you still feel hungry after 20 minutes, have another serving of vegetables.
  • Choose individual snack packs. These are already measured into individual portions.
  • Start tracking what and how much you eat.
  • Be a Smart Shopper
  1. Never shop hungry! The foods we choose when we are hungry tend to be higher in fat, calories and sugar.
  2. Prepare a list and stick to it! Making your choices ahead of time can help you to avoid impulse purchases.
  3. Read the nutrition facts labels - This is one of the best tools for making healthier choices.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about how to become a savvy shopper, visit or call 800.842.4464 ext. 3391 to request a copy of HNE's Healthy Directions Living Well Eating Smart ™ a Grocery Store Tour DVD along with an in-depth supplement to assist you in making healthier lifestyle choices.

Thomas H. Ebert, MD, is a board-certified internist and nephrologist. Dr. Ebert practiced in Worcester for 20 years and has served as HNE's Chief Medical Officer for 12 years.

This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission .