Monthly Archives: August 2015

Obesity & Cancer Risk

“Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Being extremely obese means you are especially likely to have health problems related to your weight. The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. Dietary changes, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight.”  Mayo Clinic.

I want you to note that according to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is a complex disorder. Cancer patients know that weight gain, even obesity, can be due to chemotherapy, steroids & the cancer itself. Obesity is also linked to genes, environmental factors, inactivity, stress, depression, unhealthy diet, individual behavior & lifestyle choices.

Today I will be discussing cancer risk & risk of re-occurrence linked to dietary obesity. Obesity is either measured by your Body Mass Index~BMI~and/or your waist measurement. Simply put you are taking in more calories than you expend with exercise. 

Measure your waist by placing the tape measure about an inch above your belly button. For women, a healthy waist measurement is less than 31.5 inches, and for men, it’s less than 37 inches.

Obesity is diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared. This chart is easier to check than doing all that math 🙂

***BMI doesn’t know the difference between body fat & muscle. Muscular athletes would be under the obese category. Children, pregnant women, & nursing mothers can’t use this chart either.

Check with your doctor before deciding you are at risk.


We know that about one third of the most common cancers can be prevented through diet, maintaining a healthy weight and exercise.


Why is excess body fat linked to cancer? It is difficult to design a research study involving obesity & cancer risk. The diet chosen for the control group will have a major affect on the cancer risk as well as the participants lifestyle choices. It is important to understand what type of research is being used; most studies are observational.

Observational studies Here researchers observe the effect of a risk factor, diagnostic test or treatment without trying to influence what happens. Such studies are usually “retrospective” — the data are based on events that have already happened. Most workplace health research falls into this category.

Cohort study: For research purposes, a cohort is any group of people who are linked in some way and followed over time. Researchers observe what happens to one group that’s been exposed to a particular variable — for example, the effect of company downsizing on the health of office workers. This group is then compared to a similar group that hasn’t been exposed to the variable.

Case control study: Here researchers use existing records to identify people with a certain health problem (“cases”) and a similar group without the problem (“controls”). 

Results from observational studies have given scientists enough information to state that there is a link. The NCI has published the following:

The National Cancer Institute states: “Several possible mechanisms have been suggested to explain the association of obesity with increased risk of certain cancers:

  • Fat tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and some other cancers. Dairy, organic & raw included, has estrogen & your body would store the excess in body fat.
  • Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumorsDr. Hyman has discussed insulin resistance as a problem for all chronic diseases. I recommend reading this article. Just click on his name.
  • Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines, that may stimulate or inhibit cell growth. For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin, which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
  • Fat cells may also have direct and indirect effects on other tumor growth regulators, including mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and AMP-activated protein kinase.
  • Obese people often have chronic low-level, or “subacute,” inflammation, which has been associated with increased cancer risk.” This last bullet point is about chronic inflammation in the body. We have talked about this and the importance of a plant based,  anti-inflammatory diet.

Does weight loss influence cancer risk & re-occurrence? A limited number of observational studies have looked at the connection between weight loss and cancer risk. They have found decreased risks of breast cancer and colon cancer among people who have lost weight. The problem with this type of study is that they were not able to distinguish between intentional weight-loss and weight-loss due to the participants other health problems. For example: diabetes, heart disease, & dietary sensitivities. 

An important study from UCSD : Diet and Exercise Key to Surviving Breast Cancer, Regardless of Obesity “We demonstrate in this study of breast cancer survivors that even if a woman is overweight, if she eats at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day and walks briskly for 30 minutes, six days a week, her risk of death from her disease goes down by 50 percent,” said the paper’s first author, John Pierce, Ph.D., director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center. “The key is that you must do both.” This study has led UCSD to continue with other studies for weight loss & cancer. If you are interested in participating in future studies with UCSD: Healthy Eating Program Research Studies lists links. 

Now you know the health risks of being obese & even overweight. If you are a cancer survivor or a person interested in decreasing the risk of cancer here are some questions you should be asking. How do you SAFELY lose weight? How do you MAINTAIN your weight loss or your present healthy weight? Come back next week & I will answer both questions & more!

In the meantime here is an excellent article chronicling the changes in American women’s body image for the last 100 years. This is well worth reading. Share the article with women you know: friends, daughters & granddaughters! 

WOMEN’S BODY IMAGE AND BMI~100 years in the U.S. “By the end of the 20th century, female beauty standards in America have remained unrealistic and extreme, with popular images of thinness being more out-of-reach for the average woman than ever before. This trend has been reflected in many first-world nations, although women in certain developing nations lack this widespread anxiety over their weight.”

Until next week!…..Mary

Additional resources for this post:





Stop the Presses! Updates!

I enjoy wading through sensational headlines about nutrition to get to the heart of the matter. Usually they are misleading and are not based on research. This past weeks articles surprised me. They are based on research although two are misleading.

Let’s explore these latest headlines regarding diets & food choices: Coca-Cola, the Paleo diet, the Low Fat vs. Low Carb debate & spicy foods. My favorite is what Coca-Cola is trying to sell to the public. So let’s look at that one first.

Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets  “Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.” 

Coca-Cola is funding obesity research with a biased message, nutrition experts say Coca-Cola came under fire Monday for donating millions of dollars to a nonprofit that has been spreading the message in medical journals and through social media that the blame for America’s obesity epidemic is not about diet but a lack of exercise. The issue, the New York Times reported, is that the view is misleading and meant to deflect attention away from recent studies about sugary drinks and their link to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.”

The non-profit that has come under fire for accepting a $1 million dollar donation from Coca-Cola is The Global Balance Energy Network. This is an interesting non-profit. It’s mission statement: “The Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) is a newly formed, voluntary public-private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative solutions – based on the science of energy balance – to prevent and reduce diseases associated with inactivity, poor nutrition and obesity. It is a premier world-wide organization led by scientists working on the development and application of an evidence-based approach to ending obesity.” Their mission statement sounds good but after reading the rest of the website I am not impressed. Energy balance is a term that in reality means a healthy, balanced diet, exercise & stress reduction. At least that is what evidence based research has shown us! GEBN’s definition is vague. On the website it states that they have received a lot of emails criticizing their mission statement & their acceptance of the donation. Their answer is that they will have a statement later this week & that they are taking this very seriously. I would hope so. 

As stated in the second article, money for government research is dwindling & scientists are accepting corporate money to do much needed scientific research in all areas. I understand the problem but it does raise the question concerning undue influence & compromise regarding the study results. I doubt very much that Coca-Cola wants to hear that increased sugar use is contributing more to obesity than inactivity.

I agree that balance between activity & diet is important, but the diet has to be a healthy one to combat disease. I had friends in my youth that exercised, ate Doritos & drank Diet Tab to lose weight. It worked! They were thin but they certainly were not healthy. It is not only what you eat on a diet that influences your health but more importantly it is what you are no longer eating; junk food. In other words the typical standard American diet; SAD but true 🙂

Starchy carbs, not a Paleo diet, advanced the human race   Up until now, there has been a heavy focus on the role of animal protein in the development of the human brain over the last two million years. The importance of carbohydrate, particularly in the form of starch-rich plant foods, has been largely overlooked. Our research suggests that dietary carbohydrates, along with meat, were essential for the evolution of modern big-brained humans. The evidence suggests that Palaeolithic humans would not have evolved on today’s ‘Paleo’ diet.” 

The importance of carbs in human evolution – and in the Paleo diet By Nathan Gray+, 10-Aug-2015 “Consumption of carbohydrates and starches may have been critical for the accelerated evolution of the human brain, and would have been a vital part of a real Palaeolithic diet, suggest researchers.”

Balance appears to be the theme of my post today. In order for all systems in the body to function there must be a balance in types of foods consumed; protein, carbohydrates, & fats. When there is an imbalance then we see disease. Protein taxes the liver & kidneys when eaten in abundance. A healthy person may be able to get away with a high protein diet for a while but what about a person with a compromised liver or kidney disease? If you eat too little protein then it can result in the lack of certain amino acids. Again~balance is the key.

Scientists (sort of) settle debate on low-carb vs. low-fat diets “David L. Katz, founder of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, emphasized that despite the fact that the study is down on fats, scientists still believe fats aren’t nearly as bad for us as we once thought. “In my view, this is a reality check,” Katz told Forbes. “It does not invite us to go back to preferential fat-cutting, but it does invite us to get past the new folly of preferential carb-cutting. My hope is this study provides a nudge not from one nutrient fixation to another, but in that direction: Food, not nutrients.” Whole foods should be the focus, not nutrients. If you eat a ~dare I say it again?~ balanced diet of plant based whole foods you get all the nutrients you need.

Feel like a biscuit


The takeaway: The most important part of dieting isn’t necessarily the kind of diet you chose when it comes to low-carb vs. low-fat, it’s whether you stick to it.” I disagree. The most important part is a diet that fits your lifestyle, your culture, your body & is ~you guessed it~ BALANCED! It is difficult to stick to a fad diet which is usually imbalanced. Your body starts to let you know that it needs the nutrients that this fad diet is not giving it. You become tired, shaky & irritable. You crave the very foods that are “prohibited” on your diet. 

The U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body, especially the brain and the nervous system. An enzyme called amylase helps break down carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar), which gives your body energy.
  • Protein is in every living cell in the body. Our bodies need protein from the foods we eat to build and maintain bones, muscles and skin.
  • Fat is a type of nutrient. Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E & K.

You need all three. It is now a question of what you choose, & how much you choose, from each group to put in your body to maintain health. By the way, maintaining health means maintaining a healthy immune system.

Study Finds Spicy Food Could Save Your Life “When was the last time you ate a spicy curry or enjoyed a hot and sour soup? New research published in the medical journal The BMJ (formerly The British Medical Journal) found that enjoying a spicy meal at least once a week just might save your life.” This is the kind of headline that is just sensational enough to get you to read the article but has enough truth in it to be able to get away with it. I liked this study. 

“During the 3,500,004 person-years of follow-up between 2004 and 2013, the researchers determined that eating spicy food at least once a week significantly reduced the risk of all-cause mortality. The results were especially good in those individuals who did not drink alcohol than for those dying from heart disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Additionally, those who ate spicy foods six or seven times weekly had an additional 14 percent reduction in mortality over those who ate spicy foods only once a week, showing that the results are dose-dependent, or increased based on eating spicy food more frequently. There was no significant difference in the results between women and men who participated in the study. This study recommends that you add more capsaicin~an active chemical in capsicum, cayenne & chili peppers~to your diet. It does not recommend that you take it as a supplement. We already know that capsaicin is an anti-inflammatory but this study suggests it may have an impact on the “bad gut buddies”. More research is needed. Go for the curry or salsa tonight 🙂

Let me leave you with the wisdom of one of my favorite nutrition authors:

Michael Pollen: “It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, Or Pringles.)” I would add Coca-Cola 🙂

Until next week….Mary

***Photos used were found online without an author/photo credit.

Being Vegan

The simple definition of a vegan (vee-gun or vee-gn) is a vegetarian who omits all animal products from their diet.

But this is not a new concept & it didn’t begin in the 1960’s Hippie Era. It was actually defined in the early 1940’s by the The Vegan Society“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. From ‘junk food vegans’ to raw food vegans, and everything in between, there’s a version of veganism to suit everyone. Yet one thing we all have in common is a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey – as well as products like leather and any tested on animals.”

In this post we will be discussing the vegan diet & not the vegan lifestyle. What does a vegan diet look like, what are the benefits & the pitfalls.

Oldways  website has this wonderful graphic of a vegetarian/vegan pyramid. Note at the tip of the pyramid are the options for a vegetarian. These foods would be omitted on a vegan diet. Pay attention to the bottom of the pyramid; exercise, share meals with family & friends. I like this website because of the wealth of information & recipes for every type of lifestyle. It has information regarding the Mediterranean diet as well.

Vegan veggie pyramid


Here is a simplified version of a vegan plate by Ordinary Vegan  This website is a good resource for easy to fix vegan recipes. Other websites for vegans tend to use a lot of ingredients that are hard to find & the recipes are unusual to the average person.


The section labeled legumes is actually the section for vegan foods higher in protein. Don’t make the mistake of using this section to add “meat substitutes”. I have mentioned in previous posts about using vegetarian hot-dogs, bacon, burgers, cheese etc. These are not necessarily better choices than grass-fed, antibiotic & growth hormone free meats. Meat substitutes are highly processed & contain sugar, sodium, preservatives & those hard to pronounce chemicals. They are also expensive. Read the labels & check the ingredient list before buying. Don’t be a “junk food vegan” 🙂

Hilary makes an awesome vegan burger: Ingredients: Water, Organic Millet, Organic Quinoa, Organic Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, Organic Sweet Potato, Organic Leafy Greens, Organic Onion, Organic Psyllium Husk Powder, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, Redmond’s Real Salt®, Organic Garlic” My favorite is their Adzuki Bean Burger. They are in the freezer section. Two to a bag & good for a last minute meal.

This website has a good list of vegan protein sources. 25 Delicious Vegan Sources of Protein (The Ultimate Guide!) Please note that soy is not the only choice. Read the ingredient list on nut milks. They should contain water & the nut you have chosen. No added sugar. You can always make your own: Almond Milk. With this recipe you can use any nut you like. I use cashews & I don’t strain the milk because I like the “bits” in my cereal. If you want it sweet then add a pitted date.

Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?  Discover the real difference between organic foods and their traditionally grown counterparts when it comes to nutrition, safety and price.” This is a very good, & fair, article from the Mayo Clinic. It compares conventional produce with Organic. It also goes over terms you see on packaging like “natural”. 

How to thrive on a plant-based diet  “Well-planned vegan diets contain all the nutrients we need to remain strong and healthy. Plus people often eat more fruit and vegetables and enjoy meals higher in fibre and lower in saturated fats when they adopt a vegan diet.” Another page from the Vegan Society website. It is an overview of eating a balanced vegan diet.  A carefully thought out, balanced vegan diet is the healthiest way to eat. This is because it is made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains & healthy fats. This makes it high in fiber, antioxidants, calcium rich, low in sugar, low sodium, & rich in other vitamins & minerals. No animal products also means no cholesterol, no growth hormones, & no antibiotics. Being a vegan is also cheaper if you stay away from the processed foods.

Here is a list of articles regarding studies & research.

  • A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer Good article. The study the author is discussing is below.
  • Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. “A new study just out of Loma Linda University funded by the National Cancer Institute reported that vegans have lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians.”
  • Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet. This is a very good video by Dr. Michael Greger about diet & disease. If you don’t want to watch the entire video then skip ahead to the 56 minute mark. This last segment is excellent. 
  • The China Study by Dr. Thomas Campbell. 
  • Dr. John McDougall’s free program Dr. McDougall was the first physician that I know of who studied obesity & diseases of cultures who started eating the standard American diet. Although his story begins with a stroke at age 18 in 1965, his research started in 1973. Fascinating read. His books were my guides to being vegan.
  • Dr. Dean Ornish: “Foods are neither good nor bad, but some are more healthful for you than others. You have a spectrum of choices.” Dr. Ornish was the first physician who could prove that being vegan could reverse heart disease in three weeks! It took years for the scientific community to believe him. Shameful. 
  • Coca-Cola Funds Scientists Who Shift Blame for Obesity Away From Bad Diets  “Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories.” I couldn’t resist putting this article in here. Sorry to be so cynical but this isn’t new. Reminds me of the tobacco & meat industry! This shows you how research can be manipulated to reflect what the $$$ wants as an outcome. 

What are the problems with being vegan?  There are nutritional considerations. There are two vitamins not available in plants: vitamins D and B12 & two minerals to monitor.

  • Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products or fortified foods. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and in the maintenance of the central nervous system. B12 is stored in the liver & is only needed in tiny amounts. Taking a B12 supplement is a good idea.
  • Vitamin D you are already familiar with & it is recommended to take it in supplement form. It can also be found in fortified food items.
  • Iodine is listed as being a problem for vegans. Iodine is a problem in any diet because too much or too little can cause problems. You find iodine in iodized salt, fortified foods & seaweed.
  • Zinc is usually not a problem for vegans if they are eating whole grains as recommended & not unrefined grains only.

Is this a realistic choice for most people? Yes, I think it can be. It means looking at what foods you have grown up with; your comfort foods, your cultural foods as well as what you can financially afford. I grew up in a hunting, fishing family. Fortunately for me I hated the smell, texture & taste of meat & seafood. I was a natural vegetarian. My weakness has always been cheese & coffee 🙂 Being a vegetarian has had its problems. I found myself among people who didn’t eat that way & it made my life complicated. Making new like minded friends & marrying a vegetarian helped. When we go out to dinner with new friends I am always startled to hear someone order meat. It just isn’t in my world. Being a vegan made life even more complicated. Eating out at a friends house or at a restaurant is not difficult when you are a vegetarian, but as a vegan it takes planning. I feel healthier as a vegan. My joint pain & fatigue disappear, and I can control my Lupus without medications. I admit to succumbing to pizza & Mexican food when I go out to eat. The way that works for me is to be vegan at home & vegetarian when going out.

This decision is not one that should be made lightly. It is a decision that must be a lifetime change not a fad 3 week diet if you want to reap the benefits. The health benefits are many & are worth the trouble. You will see a change in a matter of a few weeks. 

Being a nurse & being a people person I have learned that it is not a good idea to make changes this large during a crisis or when in a high stress situation. Moving towards a plant based vegan diet by omitting dairy & meat, omitting processed foods, omitting added sugar, buying organic, getting plenty of exercise and fresh air is equal to moving towards a healthy lifestyle. Making these changes one at a time over months will make them permanent. 

I would be happy to assist you in any way I can if you decide to be vegan. Another good resource would be our very own Dr. Zumba; Alessandra Colfi. She & her husband are both vegans. Until next week……Mary

“If it comes from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” Michael Pollan, ‘Food Rules’.


Cleaning up your plate.

Dr. Hyman What is at the end of your fork

Cleaning up your plate is not as difficult as you think. It doesn’t mean getting rid of foods that you like. It doesn’t mean becoming someone you aren’t. It means looking at your choices & “tweaking” them to fit onto a healthy plate. I will be writing about your “plate” but I want you to think about it as a symbol of what your entire day of eating looks like. We will look separately at breakfast, lunch, dinner & snacks. What the possibilities are and what the reality is.

The changes you make in your eating habits should be done gradually; over weeks, days or even months. The changes will become a permanent part of your routine when added slowly & with thought. The optimal plate or day you are striving for looks like this.

Choose my Plate

My notes on the above picture.

  • Vegetables: Potatoes can be eaten occasionally. Choose red, purple or gold potatoes for greater nutritional value. French fries are a treat to be enjoyed, just not daily 🙂
  • Fruits: When eaten as a whole food they are full of fiber which slows down the sugar entering your system. I limit my fruit to 3 a day. More than that & I feel like I have eaten candy all day. Pay attention to how fruit affects you.
  • Whole grains: So many to choose from! Like the potato, avoid white grains. They are denuded of nutrition. Rice for example comes in red, black, brown, and more. Each one has a different texture & fiber. My daughter loves white sticky rice with her Asian food. That is fine, another treat!
  • Protein: Limit your protein to the size of the palm of YOUR hand. Vary the protein you do eat because the nutritional value differs in types of protein. If you eat meat then plan at least 2 vegetarian meals per week. Tempeh is a good choice because it is simply a cake of fermented soy. American tofu is very processed. When I buy tofu, which is no more than once a month, I choose sprouted, organic tofu. It is less processed & a healthier choice. 
  • Oil: See the post on oils a few weeks ago.
  • Dairy: All dairy is inflammatory & should be avoided or eaten in moderation. Cattle are given shots of a growth hormone & antibiotics. Buying organic dairy guarantees that it is hormone & antibiotic free but it does contain estrogen. Cows are milked while pregnant so their estrogen level is high. 
  • Drinks: Water should be your drink of choice. Limit fruit juice to 4-6 ounces a day. It is very high in sugar & the body treats it like any other sugary drink. Milk is not a drink.

Cleaning up your plate.

Trish breakfastBreakfast: This meal is very important. You are breaking the fast since you last ate. It is also setting you up for the rest of your day. 

You can be very creative with your breakfast or fall back on routine. This is a photo of my friend Trish’s breakfast. A grain, tomato, avocado & shredded basil. You can use black beans, rice or quinoa as the base. Add sliced spinach or kale. Very nutritious! I happen to like oatmeal with Hemp milk or a nut butter on Ezekiel sprouted toast with a piece of fruit for breakfast. My husband likes whole grain cereal with Hemp milk in the morning & on the weekends he makes himself french toast (simply sprouted bread dipped in a mix of one egg  & hemp milk ~or yogurt for a tangy taste). 

Bacon, omelette, home fries, & coffee? Omelettes can be healthy by simply filling them with veggies that you like. Have just one slice of bacon & a 1/2 cup of potatoes. Add fresh fruit. Rather than denying yourself your favorite foods, limit the portion size instead & add fruit & veggies. A portion size should be what is considered one serving. Check the label or the recipe.

Hate oatmeal? Brown rice or another grain with a nut milk & fruit is delicious. You can buy single serving oatmeal to which you just add boiling water. Check the label because of the sugar added & the ingredient list.

Not hungry? Too ill to make breakfast? Have some “grab ‘n go” items available. Cut up fruits, vegetables, leftovers in small one portion containers, String Cheese sticks, nuts, nut butter, whole grain crackers, or make a simple smoothie. Nut butter on a whole grain cracker or bread is a great way to start the day. Ask a friend or family member to stock your favorite healthy “snack” items in the kitchen. 

Lunch: I have a difficult time with lunch. I would rather have a snack at noon & another one at 3 pm. I have always been this way. Drove my mother crazy. 

My lunch/snack is usually several small portions of whatever sounds good. Humus, whole grain crackers & fruit; 1 tablespoon of almond butter, whole grain cracker & fruit; a handful of nuts & fresh fruit or a salad. My husband loves lunch. Sandwiches, leftovers from dinner plus Kefir or a smoothie rather than fresh fruit. 

Hamburger, mustard, ketchup, mayo, cheese on a bun with chips or fries with a coke? Stopping at a fast food place should be a planned treat. When at home substitute sliced chicken or turkey for the meat, add condiments, lettuce & tomato on whole grain/sprouted bread with an individual small bag of chips (baked chips are not as healthy as regular chips; read the labels) & iced tea, iced coffee or water. Tomato, avocado, & lettuce on sprouted toast with condiments is simple & yummy! Add fruit. Homemade chili with fresh onions, lettuce & a moderate amount of grated cheese on top. I would go for that lunch!

Not hungry? Too ill to make anything? In a hurry to get to your appointment? Same recommendation~Have some “grab ‘n go” items available. Cut up fruits, vegetables, leftovers in small one portion containers, String Cheese sticks, nuts, nut butter, whole grain crackers, or make a simple smoothie. Ask a friend or family member to stock your favorite healthy “snack” items in the kitchen. Always pack your snacks to go with you for your appointment or treatment. 

Dinner: Research has shown that it doesn’t really matter what time you eat your last meal of the day. If it is later & closer to bedtime then have a lighter meal. If you have a gastric problem then don’t eat at least 2 hours before you lie down. 

My dinners are dependent upon how my day went & how hungry or how tired we are. When you are tired & hungry at any time it is so easy to just grab what is handy. This is why chips, & sweets should always live in a cupboard or drawer 🙂 Out of sight out of mind? 

My Plate 1

My “I am too tired to cook” go to meal in the summer. Salad, Sprouted toast with avocado or cheese, tomato & onion. Desert would be a piece of 90% chocolate. During the colder months my go to meal is soup. We like Pacific brand Roasted Tomato soup in the box. Add whole grain crackers & a small salad. I try to keep leftover cooked rice or another grain either in the frig or freezer to add to the soup. Making a casserole or a soup ahead of time & freezing individual portions is a great idea. Easy to heat on those “too tired to cook” days.

Big steak, baked potato, corn on the cob with a beer? Steak is okay once in awhile, especially at a family gathering. Limit it to the size of your palm. Corn on the cob is wonderful! I like it plain & my husband likes a little bit of butter on it. Choose either the corn or a small baked potato. Add a big fresh salad to the meal.

At a barbecue & no fresh veggies available? Do the tablespoon trick. Take a tablespoon of different salads & side dishes to add to your plate. Interesting & healthier. If it is your barbecue then make sure the meat is marinated & choose leaner cuts. The smoke emitted during grilling is due to the fat dripping from the meat hitting the coals causing toxic fumes that rise to the meat. When it is marinated it seals in the juices. Turn often & don’t char.

Alcohol has a direct link to some cancers. After a NUT group meeting about alcohol & cancer I took a poll. I asked if what I had just said regarding alcohol & cancer research would change their drinking habits,100% of the class said no 🙂 If you like your beer & or wine then drink it in moderation please.

Snacks: They should be planned. By this I mean having healthy choices at hand. If you are a chip lover then buy the small individual size bag. Giving yourself permission to have one small bag is perfectly fine! Having the Costco size in the house is not so good; “bet you can’t eat just one”! Here is a short list of ideas.

  • Nuts: “Hand-full not a can-full.” Great snack. Nutrient dense & portable.
  • Fresh fruit: Cut it up. Dip in yogurt or a nut butter.
  • Cheese: String cheese sticks, Baby Bell, cheese cut into cubes; 1 ounce is a serving size for cheese. Nutritious in small amounts & portable. Quick protein pick-me-up.
  • Nut butter: These also come in tiny 1 ounce servings. Not too expensive & portable. I put them in my husbands lunch box & backpack in case he needs a healthy snack. Serving size is 2 tablespoons.
  • Smoothie: Click for the recipe. Make ahead for the day. Put it in 8 ounce containers to use as a snack or to take with you.
  • Cut up veggies: Carrots, celery, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes or what ever vegetable you like. Dip in a dressing, yogurt or a nut butter.
  • Greek yogurt: High in protein. 4 ounces has 12 plus grams of protein. Add cut up fruit. Skip the prepared fruit added yogurts in single serving cups. Very high in added sugar & preservatives. 
  • Chocolate! The higher the percentage the less sugar. Aim for 70% or above. 

Consider the following:

  • Vary the vegetables & fruits you eat. Each whole food has it’s own unique blend of vitamins & minerals. Eating a varied diet assures you of getting what your body needs.
  • Organic DonutsUse the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen list from EWG when buying veggies & fruit. 
  • Buy in season. Cheaper & more nutritious.
  • Buy local when you are able to. It supports your community & it also cuts down on shipping the produce. This means they are picked later & have had the time to ripen naturally; making them nutrient dense.
  • Avoid processed foods. Make sure to check the Nutrition label & ingredient list.
  • Avoid “fake” meats. Look at their Nutritional label & ingredient list. Fake meat such as soy hot dogs, Tofurkey slices, soy bacon & Veggie burgers are highly processed and have added preservatives, salt & sugar. If you enjoy meat, then you are better off choosing grass fed beef, organic chicken & fish than eating fake meat.  
  • How Coca-Cola affects your body when you drink it : Read the article.coca-cola what it does to you
  • Sugary drinks: sugary Drinks

The takeaway from this post is to look at your food choices on your plate. Move them around & cut the portion sizes to conform to the plate shown at the beginning. Smaller portions of protein, a larger salad or a larger serving of veggies, & a smaller portion of whole grains. The fruit can be eaten later as a snack. Your breakfast may not conform to this plate, neither will your snacks. This is why I said that the plate is a symbol for your day. Now look at your day in the same way. 1/2 of the food you eat in a day should be vegetables, 1/4 of the food should be whole grains & 1/4 mixed protein. Were you able to attain those proportions? That should be your first goal 🙂

For more information see Mary’s Nutrition Guidelines

Is it better to eat only organic & to be a vegan~eating no animal products~ to reduce the re-occurrence & risk of cancer? From all the recent research I have looked at, the answer is yes. Is this a realistic goal? Next week we will look at the research that supports the vegan lifestyle & what being vegan looks like on your plate….Mary

***Donut quote was unsigned & found on Walt Broughton’s Facebook site.