When I was a kid, my friend Lisa’s family ate carob chip cookies, not chocolate chip. They shopped at the Natural Food Store, not the grocery store and I never saw a box of Fruit Loops in their house. At that time, back in early 1980’s, this was not the norm and some people probably thought it was weird.
I wish I knew then what I know now!
Today, scientists estimate that about 40% of the most common cancers can be prevented by
Literally, by changing what you eat and how much you move, you are reducing your risk of getting cancer.
On an intellectual level, I get it. In fact, I’ve been hearing information about this for more than a year now at Miles Perret Cancer Services. The thing is, it takes time to digest what it means and how in the world I can start using the information at home.
We’ve been trained to eat right so we can lose weight and look good on the outside, not change our chances of getting a life threatening illness on the inside! There’s a psychological shift to all of this. Here’s what I love about that shift. It makes it easier (sometimes) to look at a piece of cake and say no. Forget the skinny jeans, how about reducing your chances of ever needing chemo?
So where should you start? Here are some recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research.
- Fill at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans
- Eat no more than 18 oz. per week of red meats, like beef, pork and lamb
- Avoid processed meat such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages
I read that list and my first thought was, what do I eat on a sandwich? Valerie Miniex, a local dietitian, had the answer. She says, incorporate tuna, egg or chicken salad or cook up a chicken breast. It seems obvious to me now, but like a lot of people, I go for convenience --- almost always --- and it is often not the best choice.
According to the AICR red meat contains substances that are linked to colon cancer. There is also convincing evidence that choosing processed meat increases the chances of colorectal cancer. When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances can be formed.
Recently, I received some practical advice for when I am grocery shopping.
- Buy food without labels
- Buy food only with ingredients your Grandmother would recognize
- Buy locally grown food
Thinking about this has given me a new appreciation for the ducks my husband brings home after a day of hunting and the fresh fish he catches in the Gulf. It also makes me realize, my friend Lisa’s family was ahead of their time considering what we know today.