Cancer Prevention Month: Diet and Nutrition

bethLast week we discussed the benefits of regular exercise and how it can help to reduce your risk of developing certain types of common cancers. This week we dive deeper into the topic of diet and nutrition and its benefit to patients, survivors, caregivers and anyone looking to lower their risk.

What am I eating?

What you eat can have a big impact on your cancer risk. “We recommend a plant-based diet,” says Beth Beckett, Oncology Dietitian at the Community Cancer Center. “This should contain a lot of fruits and vegetables, include lean proteins, fiber and moderate amounts of healthy fats.”

Cutting out energy-dense, high-calorie, fatty foods and sugary beverages is a good starting point. You should also look to increase the proportion of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans in your diet. Good fiber sources include oatmeal, beans, whole grain foods, nuts and most fruits and vegetables.

How much am I eating?

Portion control is extremely important when maintaining a healthy weight. Try using smaller plates and bowls, measuring foods and taking smaller helpings. When eating out, consider ordering child-size portions, sharing a meal or taking half of your meal home. If you are unsure if you are full, wait 20 minutes for that full feeling.

When am I eating?

Studies show for successful weight loss, eat at least three times a day, with healthy snacks between meals. Skipping meals or waiting too long between meals can lead to overeating later, which can lead to weight gain.

Why am I eating?

Do you ever notice yourself eating for reasons other than being physically hungry? These reasons can include boredom, stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain, celebration, peer pressure, or just because the food is there.

“Most people eat for reasons other than physical hunger from time to time,” says Beckett. “However, if it happens often it can lead to weight gain. We encourage patients who struggle with emotional eating to seek counseling with our social workers who may recommend additional counseling services. We also work with patients on tools they can use to reduce emotional eating.”

“We get to know our patients to figure out what kind of meal plan will work best for them and their lifestyle,” says Beckett. “For weight management, we sometimes recommend tracking calories or following a meal plan that we custom design. We try to work with meal plans that are flexible enough to allow for occasional treats and don’t cut out entire food groups. Diets that are too strict are too difficult to follow, and we want you to succeed!”

If you’d like help creating a nutrition plan customized to your goals, or for any other nutrition guidance, our oncology dietitians are available for appointments with patients, survivors and caregivers. Call us at (319) 558-4876 to schedule an appointment.

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