You are what you eat

CMI instructor Moses Sumaoang, center, with participants in CMI’s Nutrition 114 course. Photo: Isaac Marty.
CMI instructor Moses Sumaoang, center, with participants in CMI’s Nutrition 114 course. Photo: Isaac Marty.


The next five to fifty years of our lives depend on nutrition. And nutrition is more than just the food we eat. It includes physical exercise on a daily basis. The Marshall Islands is facing the difficult challenge of high rates of diabetes. Diabetes is the number one Marshallese killer. Solution? Healthy lifestyle.

I recently completed the College of the Marshall Islands’ (CMI) Nutrition 114 Course taught by Registered Nurse Moses Sumaoang. Having evaluators experienced in cooking present to judge the final cooking demonstration exam really put the class on its toes. The class got into three groups and each group had to come up with a dish that provided a balance meal.

As for my group, we made fish pizza with brown rice, cabbage salad, and fruit salad as dessert, which met the target for each meal with 867 calories and 13.3 grams of fiber.

Calories are a source of energy that the body needs in order to function, but too many calories will lead to weight gain and increase risk of diabetes.

When the body gets hungry, it triggers warning signals such as sounds in the stomach. But the funny thing is the body doesn’t offer a warning signal for excessive amounts of calories and protein. The liver stores energy to a limit, excess calories and protein become fat in our muscles which stretches the body mass. “The wider you are, the nearer you are to the grave,” is what Moses repeatedly told the class.

To determine a healthy body weight, you calculate your body mass index (BMI): Divide your current weight by your height (squared), and multiply by 703. For example, 185 divided by 4761 (69 inches x 69) multiply by 703, is 27.3 BMI. That’s me. BMI under 18.5 is underweight, 18.5-24.9 is healthy, 25-29.9 overweight, 30-34.9 obesity class 1, 35-39.9 obesity class 2, and 40 and above is obesity class 3.

Healthy weight varies with age and height. Falling below or going above healthy BMI requires adjusting your calorie intake.

Moses and his wife Rosalene, who is a math instructor at CMI, evaluated and gave us all two thumbs up for the meals each group prepared. “Eat only to live, not live to eat,” said Moses.

Cooking at Majuro hospital’s Dietary Services center — the kitchen — was a great experience that increased our cooking skills. Hospital food has changed to healthier choices. I saw that many patients like the food service compared to what was served in the past. I appreciate the mentoring of kitchen staff and Director Armando Reyes, and Wellness Center support for the first class outreach at Uliga Elementary School.

Read more about this in the January 6, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.