Eating Your Way to Cancer Prevention
January 31, 2018
By Erin Whitehead
Last year, the INWFN and the Panhandle Health District formed a partnership to around cancer prevention and diet. We began by sharing cancer prevention information – specifically the benefits obtained through eating fruits and vegetables – with parents and children who participated in the Power of Produce Club. One of our goals is to help instill nutritious habits early in a child’s life, so this was a terrific collaboration for us!
Entering 2018, many of us are renewing intentions or resolving for a healthy start to the new year. To assist you in the journey, we offer you some tips to help reduce your cancer risk:
According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, lifestyle factors such as diet and maintaining a healthy weight are responsible for approximately one-third of all cancer cases. A healthy, cancer free lifestyle starts with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and fiber. It includes limiting saturated and trans-fat, processed meats, and alcohol. Regularly moving your body is also a must! Preventing cancer isn’t just about dos and don’ts, it’s also about finding balance and moderation. The best approach is to make small adjustments over time to determine what works for you.
Small day to day lifestyle choices have a huge impact on your long-term health. They also happen to be the area you have the most control over because you oversee what you eat and how much you move. Below are five suggestions to help balance what and how much you eat:
- Start your meal with an appetizer. Eating a bowl of vegetable soup, a green salad, or a fresh fruit fifteen minutes before lunch or dinner can take the edge off hunger and reduce the calories you eat during your meal. Healthy appetizers will also help you add cancer-preventing plant foods to your daily diet. Click here for a list of foods containing ingredients that are known cancer preventers.
- Use smaller plates. It sounds simple, but several studies have found evidence that smaller plates lead to eating less. While you’re at it, make sure at least half of your plate is filled with colorful plant base foods.
- Put left overs away before you eat your meal. Putting extra food away in the refrigerator, or in a carryout box at a restaurant, before you begin a meal will help you stop eating before you get carried away.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. Dimming the lights and playing mellow music helps create a relaxing atmosphere that can encourage you to eat slower. Eating slower gives your stomach time to tell your brain it is full. It also allows you to fully appreciate the flavors, texture, aromas, and complexity of your food, adding to an overall feeling of satisfaction.
- Reduce temptations! Eliminate the temptation of processed and sugary foods by having them in your home only occasionally. Alternatively, have antioxidant rich berries or protein packed nuts on hand for your snack rotation.
Erin Whitehead, MPH, is a Health Education Specialist for the Panhandle Health District in North Idaho.