THE CANCER AND FOOD CONUNDRUM
Our guest post today comes from one of the good folks over at Cook for Your Life, Chelsea Fisher. In this helpful post, she mentions some of the tips that reduce our risk of cancer and increase our overall health. In her very wise words, “stay away from any type of fad diet or craze”.
At Cook For Your Life we create recipes that cater to cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers. We believe that health begins in the kitchen. Cooking your own food can be at once healing and empowering. But when trying to change your health for the better, it can be difficult to find the information you need to get started. This is especially true in the cancer realm where researching the topic will likely land you in the confusing world of studies on the links between food and cancer, some scientific, others not so much. Though many of these studies have found that specific fruits, vegetables, plant chemicals, and micronutrients can help prevent cancer, or even kill existing tumor cells, the information is often wavering, inconclusive, and, sadly can be downright misleading.
So, what do you do if you’re trying to lower your cancer risk, are currently battling cancer, or are a survivor trying to prevent recurrence? The best bet is to stay away from any type of fad diet or craze involving a particular ingredient, and eat for overall health. Once you’ve accepted that no one type of food is the answer to all of your health woes, there are a few rules that, with the help of research from reliable sources like the Mayo Clinic and the American Cancer Society, Cook For Your LIFE has learned to create recipes by. Here they are:
- Eat your greens. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, and cabbage are seriously good for you, so stop feeding them to the dog under the table and actually eat them!
- Eat your colors. If your meal is rich in colorful fruits and veggies, you’re probably eating most of the necessary vitamins and nutrients you need. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be protective of cancer, so consider making them about 1/2 -2/3 of your plate. To get there, fruits and veggies can be added to salads, sides, stir-fries, curries, and stews.
- Eat healthy proteins. Chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and protein-rich vegetarian sources like soy, nuts, quinoa, and legumes are great choices.
- Don’t let ‘fat phobia’ keep you away from eating healthy fats like those in fish, avocadoes, nuts and olive oil. Fats should represent roughly 25%/30% of calories in a healthy diet, however eat saturated fats like dairy sparingly.
- Replace refined foods like white flour and white rice with the whole grain versions like whole-wheat flour and brown rice.
- Cut down on store bought refined and highly processed pre-prepped foods. If you don’t recognize half the ingredients on the label, don’t put it in your shopping cart.
- Eat less red meat. Red meat is high in saturated fat. It’s recommended to eat no more than 18oz of it a week, and not all in one go either! A true portion is just 3 oz, the size of a pack of cards. Red meats include beef, lamb, and pork so it’s not just steaks and burgers we’re talking about.
- Avoid processed deli meats like ham, bacon, hot dogs, and salami as much as possible. The nitrates in these highly processed meats, are not good for us in more ways than one and are particularly rough on the colon.
- Check the size of your portions. Obesity has been linked to an increased cancer risk. Learn what a correct portion is. Check food labels. That pot of yogurt may look like one portion, but a close look at the label will tell you it is actually two.
- A little sweet treat here and there can be good for your soul. So go ahead and have your cake and eat it, but just one small piece.
- If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
- Use your own body as a compass. Pay attention to how your body feels after certain foods and keep track of what makes you feel good and what makes you feel sick.
- Fruits and veggies forever! Fight cancer with your fork and Cook For Your LIFE!
Chelsea Fisher is a food writer and the Director of Marketing & Website at Cook for Your LIFE in New York City. She works closely with Ann Ogden, a two-time cancer survivor and the founder of Cook for Your LIFE to spread CFYL’s mission to teach healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. Chelsea and the CFYL team hope to create not only a healthy lifestyle through the website and hands-on cooking classes, but a community where patients, survivors, and caregivers can get multi-faceted support from their peers, oncologists, and registered dietitians.