Weight Management & Calories

Ultimately, every individual is responsible for their own food choices. Every single day nutrition can have an impact on health. Thus, it is well worth the effort to learn to eat in a manner to best support overall health throughout a lifetime.

The five general characteristics of a healthy eating pattern.

  • The first being variety or consuming a wide selection of foods.
  • Moderation is making sure that foods are consumed within the recommended ranges and not to excess.
  • Calorie control is consuming the recommended energy level to support a healthy body weight.
  • Balance is eating foods in the right number and proportions so that foods rich in some nutrients do not crowd out foods rich in other nutrients.
  • Finally adequacy is eating to consume all of the essential nutrients, fiber and energy in proper amounts to maintain health and body weight.

A well-planned diet is one way to include each of these components into an individual's eating pattern. The USDA food patterns can serve as a guide for individuals of all ages to identify the specific amounts of food needed from each group to consume a healthful diet for a specified calorie level.

This calorie requirement chart presents estimated amounts of calories needed to maintain energy balance (and a healthy body weight) for various gender and age groups at three different levels of physical activity. The estimates are rounded to the nearest 2000 calories and were determined using an equation from the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Estimated Calorie Requirements (in kilocalories) for Each Gender and Age Group at Three Levels of Physical Activity.
Gender Age (years) Activity Level
Sedentary Moderately Active Active
Child 2-3 1,000 1,000 - 1,400 1,000 - 1,400
Female 4 - 8 1,200 1,400 - 1,600 1,400 - 1,800
Female 9-13 1,600 1,600 - 2,000 1,800 - 2,000
Female 14-18 1,800 2,000 2,400
Female 19-30 2,000 2,000 - 2,200 2,400
Female 31-50 1,800 2,000 2,200
Female 51+ 1,600 1,800 2,000 - 2,200
Male 4-8 1,400 1,400 - 1,600 1,600 - 2,000
Male 9-13 1,800 1,800 - 2,200 2,000 - 2,600
Male 14-18 2,200 2,400 - 2,800 2,800 - 3,200
Male 19-30 2,400 2,600 - 2,800 3,000
Male 31-50 2,200 2,400 - 2,600 2,800 - 3,000
Male 51+ 2,000 2,200 - 2,400 2,400 - 2,800

Within these food patters are recommendations for subgroups of foods in certain groups such as the vegetable and protein group to allow for a healthful variety of foods to be consumed on a daily basis. There are hundreds of choices to make when planning meals.This slide presents simply one example of Sample Menus for a 2,000 calorie meal plan. or how to distribute the recommended amounts of food throughout the day for a 2,000 calorie meal plan.

Resources such as this can give individuals a sense of what a healthy,well-balanced, nutrient-dense intake looks like, which can then be used to model intake on other days.

We know that cultural traditions and social values often dictate what individuals eat. Although the food patterns in the previous slides may appear to be somewhat rigid, there is actually a lot of flexibility within these patterns. This slide depicts how the food patterns can be modified to accommodate an ethnically diverse dietary intake.

Individuals can have all the nutrition knowledge in the world. But this is of little value if they do not put this knowledge to practice. In order to act on this knowledge, people need to change their behaviors and make different dietary choices. Being aware of where one stands in relation to making these changes can be helpful in allowing one to progress towards specific dietary goals. Often we use the six stages listed in this table to categorize individuals with where they are at in making a change. Based on where an individual's categorized, this would then drive what actions they should take to move toward healthier changes.

For example, if individuals are in the contemplation stage and just beginning to think about whether or not they want to change their dietary intake, it would not be helpful to tell them that they need to follow a specific meal plan. Rather they first need to decide if a change might be adventagious to them and commit to making a change before they can go about it.

In order to make a plan, or a dietary change, people must:

  • First be aware of what they are eating. The best way to do this is to self-monitor, or track food intake for several days, or even daily for a period of time. For this we have developed SEDTracker this tool help you to track food intake. Tracking food intake allows individuals to identify any areas of food intake that may need to be improved upon.
  • Once an area to change has been identified, a goal should be set to improve this area. Setting small achievable goals will help individuals move along the spectrum to better health.
  • Once the goal have been achieved it is important to reassess and see what other changes an individual can make to improve overview health and whether or not this change can be maintained.

Nutrition is a key component in overall health. Food should be something that is enjoyed, but that also supports overall health and well-being



What is cancer?

Cancer arises in the genes. It often begins when a cell's genetic material, or DNA, sustains damage from a carcinogen, such as a free radical compound, radiation or other factors. Such damage occurs everyday but most is quickly repaired. If the damage can't be repaired the cell self destructs to prevent the proliferation of damaged cells. Occasionally a damaged cell loses its ability to self destruct and stop reproducing. The cell then replicates uncontrollably and the result is a mass of abnormal tissue or a tumor once a tumor is formed,the cancer can metastasize, or spread, via blood or lymph. For example, a cancer that starts in the lungs and spreads to the brain is called metastatic lung cancer, not brain cancer.

Let's break the process down by steps. First an individual is exposed to carcinogen, and there's entry of the carcinogen into the cell. Initiation of cancer begins as the carcinogen damages or changes the cell's genetic material. Acceleration of the cancer starts by other carcinogens or promoters. The cell begins to multiply out of control, and there is tumor formation. The cancer can then be spread via blood, and lymph, and disruption of normal body functions made again. It is in the first four steps, culminating with tumor formation that researchers think are the key to cancer prevention. Life-threatening cancer occurs if the tumor tissue, which cannot perform its normal functions, overtakes the healthy organ in which it developed or disseminates its cells throughout the bloodstream to other parts of the body. For most cancers, lifestyle factors and environmental exposures are the major risk factors. Almost certainly dietary factors substantially influence cancer development. The degree of cancer risk imposed by the food depends partly on the eater's genetic inheritance, but the exact nature of this relationship is not yet known. When it comes to risk factors our individual risk of developing cancer is a complicated combination of the lifestyle choices we make. Such as tobacco use, nutrition, physical activity and stress management, heredity,and environment. Amazingly, up to approximately two-thirds of cancers can be avoided altogether by the application of existing knowledge of prevention and detection.

Dietary-related behaviors can have a substantial influence on the development of cancer.In addition to many dietary recommendations, regular physical activity is linked to risk reduction for some types of cancer. Overall it is the whole foods and the chronic diets consumed, not single nutrients, that may be most influential in cancer prevention. However, there are phytochemicals and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables that may prevent or reduce the developments of some types of cancer.

Nutrition to reduce cancer risk.

The scientific community is continually studying the role of diet in the development of cancer. Many results are preliminary and more is being learned every day. Research is discovering that intake of fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains may interfere with the process of developing cancer of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, lung, prostate, and rectum. In addition to reducing the risk of developing cancer, the risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases might also be prevented by eating more fruits and vegetables. There is also evidence that total fat intake of greater than 30 percent of total calories can increase the risk of developing some cancers. This is especially true when total fat intake includes saturated fat and possibly polyunsaturated fat.

What foods help to prevent cancer?

Although research studies are inconclusive at this time, preliminary evidence suggests that some components of food may play a role in decreasing the risk of developing cancer, including phytochemicals, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.

What are phytochemicals (or phytonutrients)?

Phytochemicals are chemicals found in plants that protect plants against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Eating large amounts of brightly colored fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange, red, green, white, blue, purple), whole grains/cereals, and beans containing phytochemicals may decrease the risk of developing certain cancers as well as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. The action of phytochemicals varies by color and type of the food. They may act as antioxidants or nutrient protectors, or prevent carcinogens (cancer causing agents) from forming.

What are specific sources of phytochemicals?

The list below is a partial list of phytochemicals found in foods:

  • Allicinis found in onions and garlic. Allicin blocks or eliminates certain toxins from bacteria and viruses.
  • Anthocyanins are found in red and blue fruits (such as raspberries and blueberries) and vegetables. They help to slow the aging process, protect against heart disease and tumors, prevent blood clots, and fight inflammation and allergies.
  • Biflavonoids are found in citrus fruits.
  • Carotenoids are found in dark yellow, orange, and deep green fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, parsley, oranges, pink grapefruit, and spinach.
  • Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, wine, green tea, onions, apples, kale, and beans.
  • Indoles are found in broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnips (also known as “cruciferous” vegetables). They contain sulfur and activate agents that destroy cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Isoflavones are found in soybeans and soybean products.
  • Lignins are found in flaxseed and whole grain products.
  • Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. It may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
  • Lycopene is found primarily in tomato products. When cooked, it appears to reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks.
  • Phenolics are found in citrus fruits, fruit juices, cereals, legumes, and oilseeds. It is thought to be extremely powerful, and is studied for a variety of health benefits including slowing the aging process, protecting against heart disease and tumors, and fighting inflammation, allergies, and blood clots.

Phytochemicals cannot be found in supplements and are only present in food. Foods high in phytochemicals include the following: Broccoli, berries, soynuts, pears, turnips, celery, carrots, spinach, olives, tomatoes, lentils, cantaloupe, garlic, apricots, onions, seeds, soybeans, green tea, apples, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, kale, and red wine.

There is no recommended dietary allowance for phytochemicals. Eat a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are getting adequate amounts in your diet.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that inhibit the oxidation process and act as protective agents. They protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals (by-products of the body’s normal chemical processes). Free radicals attack healthy cells, which changes their DNA, allowing tumors to grow. Research is underway to investigate the role of antioxidants in decreasing the risk of developing cancer. Antioxidants include:

  • vitamin C (ascorbic acid) According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), vitamin C may protect against cancer of the oral cavity, stomach, and esophagus and may also reduce the risk of developing cancers of the rectum, pancreas, and cervix. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C may provide protection against breast and lung cancer. According to the American Dietetic Association and USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the following foods are good sources of vitamin C:

    • one medium orange - 69 mg
    • 1 cup orange juice - 124 mg
    • 1 medium raw green pepper - 106 mg
    • 1 cup raw strawberries - 81 mg
    • 1 cup cubed papaya - 86 mg
    • 1 medium raw red pepper - 226 mg
    • 1/2 cup cooked broccoli - 58 mg

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C has recently been increased to 75 milligrams per day for women and 90 milligrams per day for men. Safe upper limit  = 2.000mg.  If on high doses of chemo or nephrotoxins, upper limit  = 500mg.

  • beta carotene

    Beta carotene, also known as provitamin A, may help decrease the risk of developing cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, this nutrient may prevent certain cancers by enhancing the white blood cells in your immune system. White blood cells work to block cell-damaging free radicals.
    Good sources of beta carotene are dark green leafy and yellow-orange fruits and vegetables. In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A. Eating foods rich in beta carotene is recommended to possibly decrease the risk of developing stomach, lung, prostate, breast, and head and neck cancer. However, more research is needed before a definite recommendation on beta carotene consumption can be made. Overdosing on beta carotene is not recommended. Large doses can cause the skin to turn a yellow-orange color, a condition called carotenosis. High intakes of beta carotene in supplement form may actually cause lung cancer in people at risk, such as smokers, and it is not recommended. While there is a recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A (safe upper limit = 25,000IU or 15mg), there is not one for beta carotene. Examples of some foods high in beta carotene include the following: Carrots, squash, collards, spinach, sweet potatoes

  • vitamin E

    Vitamin E is essential for our bodies to work properly. Vitamin E helps to build normal and red blood cells, as well as working as an antioxidant. Research is finding evidence that vitamin E may protect against prostate and colorectal cancer. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day. The adult upper limit for vitamin E is 1,000 milligrams per day. Good sources of vitamin E (and the amount each serving contains) include the following:

    • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil - 6.9 mg
    • 1 ounce sunflower seeds - 14 mg
    • 1 ounce almonds - 7.4 mg
    • 1 ounce hazelnuts - 4.3 mg
    • 1 ounce peanuts - 2.1 mg
    • 3/4 cup bran cereal - 5.1 mg
    • 1 slice whole wheat bread - .23 mg
    • 1 ounce wheat germ - 5.1 mg
  • Since some sources of vitamin E are high in fat. A synthetic form of a vitamin E is available as a supplement. Vitamin E supplementation is probably not needed for most individuals because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in our bodies. Very high doses of vitamin E can also interfere with the way other fat-soluble vitamins work. Also, large doses of vitamin E from supplements are not recommended for people taking blood thinners and some other medications, as the vitamin can interfere with the action of the medication. To make sure you are meeting your needs, eat a varied diet that includes whole-wheat breads and cereals. There is no recommended dietary allowance for antioxidants. Eat a variety of foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure you are getting adequate amounts in your diet.

    What are omega-3 fatty acids?

    Researchers are studying the effects omega-3 fatty acids have on delaying or reducing tumor development in breast and prostate cancer. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, we must get them from food or supplements. The omega-3 fatty acids include:

    • Alpha-linolenic acid
    • Eicosapentaenoic acid
    • Docosahexaenoic acid

    Sources and recommended servings of foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include:

    • Seafood, especially cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, halibut, stripped bass, tuna, and lake trout (aim for three to four servings of these fish every week)
    • Flaxseed oil and beans such as kidney, great northern, navy, and soybeans

    The American Cancer Society recommends avoiding omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the following situations:

    • If you take anticoagulant medications or aspirin, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase the risk of excessive bleeding
    • If you have elevated cholesterol levels, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may continue to increase your cholesterol levels
    • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding (Women should talk to their physicians before taking omega-3 supplements or any dietary supplements.)
    • If you are menstruating, as omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase the tendency of developing anemia
    Source from Stanford Medicine