When January rolls around, many people make a resolution to lose weight, often to improve their appearance. However, eating a healthy diet is not only good for reducing your waistline, it’s also a great way to reduce your risk for many types of cancers.
“The key is to make your plate as colorful as possible to get the most health benefits,” says Karina Christopher, dietitian at the UK Markey Cancer Center. “Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.”
A plant-based diet has been linked to a decreased risk of bladder, colon, lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, prostate, and stomach cancers. When planning for a healthy meal, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables—the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends five to nine half-cup servings a day. Experiment with different colors of the same vegetable for variety—for example, trying yellow, orange, and red bell peppers instead of always using green.
Daily fiber consumption has been proven to reduce your risk for colon cancer. The American Dietetic Association recommends 25 grams for women and 38 for men each day. (After age 50, 21 grams for women, 30 for men.) Try whole-wheat breads, pastas, and cereals, or add some dried beans and lentils to your meal—you’ll get protein as well as fiber.
Some meats can actually increase your risk of developing cancer, so stay away from processed meats like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. Choose lean meats instead, such as fish or poultry that’s baked, grilled, or broiled.
These additional tips can help you reach a healthy weight and reduce your risk of cancer:
GET ACTIVE Aim for at least 3-1/2 hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week.
CONTROL FOOD PORTIONS Put half the amount of food on your plate (and use a smaller plate) as you normally do and wait several minutes. Are you still hungry?
PLAN MEALS AHEAD It helps prevent too much snacking or overeating. If you go to a restaurant, check out their nutritional information online and plan what to order beforehand, so you’re not tempted to order something unhealthy on the spot.
Health Club member’s helpful Internet sites
Our November health focus “Road to Better Health” hit a chord. (Missed it? Read or download a copy from www.KentuckyLiving.com by typing “road to better health” in the Article Search box.)
More than 225 people took the challenge to join the Kentucky Living Health Club that runs December through March.
Members are interacting and supporting each other on our private Facebook page among other ways, and the rest of you can benefit from their sharing:
www.fitday.com “I use it to journal my daily calories and it’s been very helpful in the past.” —Ann from Cynthiana, Blue Grass Energy Cooperative
www.sparkpeople.com “Tracking myself seems to be a really good thing. Even when I think I have overdone it, if I track it and find out I didn’t do so bad after all, it is really encouraging.” —Judy from Mammoth Cave, Warren RECC
www.myfitnesspal.com “It has been very influential in my success thus far. I have lost 27 pounds so far and hope to be up to 40 by Christmas. You can log your food/exercise, build a network, etc.”—Beth from Union
www.calorie-count.com. “It is a great free tracker and logs the nutrition as well as calories. I also log in my exercise. Writing it down and being aware makes all the difference!” —Barbara from Cadiz, Pennyrile Electric cooperative
www.nhlbi.nih.gov —From the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, healthy recipes and free download for two awesome Deliciously Healthy cookbooks for adults and kids.