7 Steps to Finding Your Food Groove

Making the decision to begin changing your diet can feel overwhelming and confusing – possibly so much so that you end up making no changes at all! And that’s not what we want to see happen. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to begin eating better (which is really the first step!), then take on the rest in baby steps. Go one day at a time and one goal at a time.

Perhaps you decide to begin eating a leafy green vegetable every day or 4 days of the week. Maybe you want to try drinking more water or eating more whole grains (like brown rice) instead of processed grains (breads, pastas – especially the white flour ones!). Start small and add on as you go.

Here are 7 general steps to finding your groove with food. These are great areas to start with, and you may want to break down your steps and goals even more. Remember to be realistic, but also push yourself to see just what you can do! You’d be surprised!

1.) Drink more water: There is no right amount of water to drink, but generally the bigger and more active you are, the more you should drink. A good rule of thumb is a 1/2 ounce of water per pound of weight. So a 160 pound person might start with 80 ounces of water (or 10 eight-ounce cups). Staying hydrated is imperative during cancer treatment! This will help to increase your energy, support your immune system, reduce nausea and other treatment and cancer side effects.

2.) Practice cooking: Cooking is a fundamental step to healthier living. By making your own meals you know what’s going into them. Meals don’t need to take hours to prepare and involve multiple ingredients. Pick a healthy recipe or two a week to add in to your routine. 

3.) Increase leafy green vegetables: These are seriously lacking in the American diet and they are most essential for creating long-lasting health. More specifically they help eliminate depression, improve liver, gallbladder and kidney function, increase energy and boost your blood. Try kale, collards, mustard greens, dandelion greens, spinach, and chard.

4.) Increase whole grains: It’s not these types of carbohydrates that have led to the obesity epidemic, but rather the processed goods like doughnuts. Whole grains are some of the best sources of nutritional support and provide long-lasting energy. Try brown rice, quinoa, oats, and millet. 

5.) Increase sweet vegetables: People forget that these exist and they are the perfect medicine for the sweet tooth. Instead of depending on processed sugar, you can add more naturally sweet flavors to your diet and dramatically reduce sweet cravings and better support your body. Try sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and squash.

6.) Experiment with protein: The majority of Americans eat way too much protein and mostly in the form of animal meat. Pay attention to how different types of protein make you feel. Try other forms like beans, lentils, nuts or fermented soy (tempeh, miso).

7.) Eat less meat, dairy, sugar and processed foods; consume less coffee, alcohol and tobacco: Did you notice we said eat less instead of don’t eat? If we told you not to drink coffee or eat sweets you would want them even more. By increasing your whole grains, vegetables and water you will naturally crowd out the more processed items, so this step often comes naturally (and it’s much easier to add in good food than try to restrict yourself from the not-so-good foods).

 

Adapted from 10 Steps to Boost Your Health for Life, Joshua Rosenthal, IntegrativeNutrition.com

You Don’t Have to Like Pink

 

For many women, being a part of a national or local cancer-related movement offers support and connection and helps them to be proactive during their cancer journey. But you don’t have to be the poster girl for cancer. Don’t feel the need to adorn yourself with cancer pins, T-shirts or get a bumper sticker if it’s not your thing. Don’t pressure yourself to join every fund-raising event around. There are some great causes out there, but getting involved isn’t every gal’s cup of tea. Be real with yourself and use this time to feel what you want to feel, act how you want to act, and get involved with whatever you want (or not).

Breast cancer support is the best example because we see the pink paraphernalia everywhere. You’ve probably seen the pink hats, ribbons, coffee mugs, bracelets, water bottles, pens, calendars, socks, home décor, teddy bears and so much more. For many women, sporting the pink gives them a sense of belonging, hope and courage, and that’s fabulous. Many of the proceeds from sales from these items support worthy causes. However, if you do have breast cancer, don’t feel obligated to sport your pink ribbon unless it feels right to you. We know some breast cancer babes who truly get sick of all the pink stuff, but they are still amazing women who are working through their cancer and supporting fellow cancer chicks and organizations at their own comfort level.

Beware of the pink promotions that seem to go a little too far. Remember the pink KFC bucket of fried chicken? We aren’t sure how encouraging people to purchase and eat a bucket of factory-farmed chicken cooked in grease promotes good health. Anyone fighting breast cancer or trying to prevent it should probably avoid those buckets and support breast cancer organizations in other ways.

Think Before You Pink is a project of an organization called Breast Cancer Action. This project was launched as concern grew around the increasing number of pink ribbon products on the market. The project’s mission is to hold companies more accountable for their pink ribbon promotions and to encourage consumers to do their research and find out who or what a pink ribbon product benefits. It’s important to be aware of who is funding different cancer campaigns, some of which include pharmaceutical companies or other businesses that benefit from higher rates of cancer or actually create products that promote cancer itself.

The point is, be a savvy consumer and know what that ribbon is representing and who actually profits from the sale. And be real with yourself in deciding how “pink” (or any other cancer ribbon color) you want to be.

Sea Veggies

Sea vegetables are a group of plants that grow in the ocean. You may hear them referred to as seaweed.

Photo: Flickr.com norwichnuts

Sea veggies have been part of the diet of many native cultures in Asia and the Americas for thousands of years. These awesome veggies contain molecules that slow cancer growth, encourage cancer cell death and protect cells against radiation damage. They also stimulate the immune system, including the powerful natural killer (NK) cells, a type of white blood cell that is essential in rejecting tumors and virally infected cells.Seaweed offers a broad range of minerals including all of the 56 essential and trace minerals so important for our health. It also is a good source of folic acid, iodine, magnesium, calcium and some of the B vitamins. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soil can result in a lack of minerals in the body, leading to cravings for salty or sugary foods. Adding sea vegetables to your diet can help balance your energy levels and alleviate cravings.

The most common sea vegetables used in the kitchen are nori (laver), kombu (kelp), wakame (alleria), arame, hijiki, agar-agar and dulse. Sea veggies can be used in soups and salads, to make sushi, shaken onto grains and beans in granulated form, and turned into delicious side dishes. Add a piece of kombu to beans or grains when cooking to up the mineral content and aid in digestibility. You’ll learn more about sea veggies and can try out some recipes in Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen!

Photo: Norwichnuts, flckr.com