Some of my biggest challenges are deciding what the best foods are to boost my resistance to cancer and which foods I should avoid or at least keep to a minimum. I know there are foods that are speculative and have not been proven to be either good or bad, but as a dietitian I value your input. I also struggle with calorie counting as I have never really looked at calories. I have common sense enough to know the obvious, but I also know there are foods that are higher in calorie than you would expect. So any information you have on “better choices” would be helpful.

I would first advise you to go to the Healthy Resources section of the Old Orchard website, and there is an entire section devoted to diet education (“Ask Amy”). You may find some helpful information there. Also there is a “Health Calculators” section where you can see how many calories you can burn doing various activities and also you can assess your own calorie needs.

Continue to monitor the food label and become familiar with what 1 serving for various products looks like. This is always a tricky thing for people. As, many times people feel like they are choosing healthy foods, but what ends up happening is that they are consuming 2-4 servings extra of these healthy foods, which leads to excess calorie intake. You would be surprised how small the serving size is for various products. Once you become more familiar with what a serving looks like you will be able to gauge how much food you are being served when eating out. Many restaurants want to fill you up so they serve dishes that may contain 4 times what you would normally eat. It is a good idea to try to get smaller plate dishes or automatically get a “to go” container at the beginning of the meal.

I would encourage you to set a few goals per month. One could be that you shoot each day to take in a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. One serving of cooked veggies or canned fruit = 1/2 cup (1 cup of raw veggies = 1 serving). A medium sized banana and a piece of fruit the size of a baseball also equal one serving. And do your best to choose the most vibrantly colored ones, as this is how to get a slew of healthy vitamins and minerals. Some of the best cancer fighting foods come from the most colorful fruits and vegetables (blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, squash, pomegranates, strawberries etc). Please keep in mind that “fresh” is not always best. I consistently use frozen vegetables in my stir fry dishes and frozen fruits mix well in smoothies.

As you are improving the cancer fighting capacity of your diet, remember to limit the amount of simple sugars that you may consume. I rarely tell people that they have to absolutely “avoid” foods, but as a country, we definitely consume way too much sugar. Substitute low sugar juices (Healthy Balance and Cranberry Naturals) for soda and fruit punch. Limit candy, cookies, cake and other sugary items and choose fresh fruit, yogurt, or fruit smoothies when you are craving something sweet. It is also recommended that we move more towards a plant based diet so start reducing the amount of meat (especially red meat) from your diet and choose more plant based entrees (baked tofu over brown rice, black bean enchiladas, broccoli/quinoa salad etc). Also, limit processed foods that may contain high amounts of salt and trans fats (snack crackers, potato chips, doughnuts, etc).

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