Making Wise Food Choices When Going Through Cancer

Immune system

Immune system (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Today I am featuring a guest post by David he is a writer and awareness advocate for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and has been studying and blogging about nutrition and fitness for cancer patients.  You can find his blog and bio at http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/david/. I hope you enjoy his article, because I sure did!

Food safety is important for everyone, not just for those going through cancer. Viruses, parasites and bacteria can contaminate the food you eat if you don’t take adequate precautions to keep yourself safe. Since cancer patients often undergo chemotherapy, medication or radiation to help them fight their disease, the result can be a weakened immune system.

A Properly Functioning Immune System is Necessary for Cancer Patients

Over the course of your disease, cancer can weaken the immune system. When you add the potential for further weakness from possible treatments, food safety and wise food choices becomes especially important. A properly functioning immune system is necessary to keep infection and foreign pathogens out of the body, but if cancer treatments have weakened your immune system, that makes you more susceptible to infection and foodborne illnesses.

Proper nutrition during cancer treatments results in many benefits. It can improve your quality of life, increase your energy levels and give you a better outlook. It can increase your stamina, improve how you look and make you feel better. When you feel better, you’re more likely to take better care of yourself, and that includes getting enough sleep and exercise. With proper nutrition, your body will be better equipped to fight against the cancer.

Making Wise Food Choices

Some foods are healthier and less risky than others. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, foods most likely to contain harmful viruses and bacteria fall into the following two categories.

1. Unpasteurized milk (raw milk), soft cheeses made from raw milk, uncooked or undercooked eggs, and deli-type salads prepared without preservatives at your local grocery store can all cause problems.

2. Uncooked, fresh fruits and vegetables can also be problematic.

Since cancer therapies and mesothelioma treatment side effects can place an extra burden on your immune system, the USDA recommends you always drink pasteurized milk in order to avoid potential food contaminants. In addition, you should use pasteurized egg products when preparing recipes that call for raw eggs and avoid eating raw cookie dough. Don’t make eggnog at home with raw eggs and avoid homemade Caesar-type salad dressings.

Unsafe cheeses are varieties made from raw milk such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican varieties such as Queso fresco. Always thoroughly wash your fruits and vegetables, including the salad mixes that come in factory-sealed bags. The USDA also advises cancer patients not to eat raw sprouts. They should always be cooked.

While making wise food choices can’t guarantee you will never become ill, taking adequate precautions to help keep yourself safe will give you a fighting chance to win against the odds.

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Long time no see

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It’s been a little over a year since I posted a blog. I just wasn’t really certain what I wanted to blog about. I didn’t want to be set on blogging about just nutrition. Yes nutrition is a big part of my life. I try to eat healthy and instill healthy eating into my kids, even if they are 3 and 1.
I have had some people ask me how I get my son, Tyler, to eat healthy. First, I should start by saying that Tyler will eat a whole red or orange pepper like you would eat an apple. People are amazed that a 3 year old would do that. This past summer we went to the farmers market in our city. Tyler saw a green pepper with some red on it and wanted it. So we bought it for him. It was a huge pepper. He started eating it on the way back to the car. As we were walking people kept saying look at that boy eating that pepper. It’s not everyday you see a 3 year old eating a pepper like and apple. To me its normal.
Tyler will ask me for frozen vegetables to eat all the time. Why he likes them frozen instead of cooked is beyond me. When Tyler was a baby I tried not to give him any sweets until his first birthday. I think I was pretty successful in doing so. I didn’t do anything really special when he was a baby, food wise. I did the normal cereal then vegetables, fruit and then meats. I would give him vegatables and fruit for lunch and dinner along with whatever we were eating. He would sometimes get fruit as a snack as well. One of the things to eating healthy is not having junk food or sweets in your house. We rarely have sweet and junk food at our house. I don’t want you to think that we never eat sweets or junk food, we do, just not every day. Moderation is key. Now that Tyler is three, almost 4, he still asks for fruits and vegetables for a snack, oh and cheese. He has rarely if ever asked me for candy or junk food. I hope that my daughter, Ariana, will have the same eating habits as him.

Resolution

The New Year is upon us. How many people made their resolution to lose weight and eat better? I think that is on a list of most people. How many people really stick to them? I love going to the gym and it is packed the first week of January with all those people and their new year resolutions. Then a few weeks later and the gym is back to normal with all the regulars. Ahhh, those people who make resolutions and don’t keep them. Yes it’s hard to make lifestyle changes and more power to those that do it! Most people who are looking to lose weight want a quick fix or a pill to take. Which brings me to this article I read:
On Saturday I was at my hair dresser and while I was under the dryer I was reading a magazine, I think it was OK! Magazine. I was reading an article on two former playboy playmates Holly and Kendra and how they lost weight. Well Holly used NV,reduced portion sizes and chose better food options. She would eat fast food and large portions and now she eats fish/chicken, salad, fruit. Then there is Kendra who uses Ab cuts, hired a personal trainer to work out everyday, and ate healthier. They both claimed these “diet pills” helped them lose their weight. Now if you looked at their diet before and after wouldn’t you think that just changing eating habits alone would promote weight loss? Or hiring a personal trainer and exercising would lead to weight loss, not diet pills? If a person just changes the way they eat and exercise, then yes you will lose weight. Of course both of these ladies are spoke-people for the products. Now if I was famous and had millions of dollars then I would for sure have a personal trainer and a chef. Not everyone can have that. People need to realize that there is no little pill you can take to lose weight. It takes time, determination and will power. It takes 3500 calories to equal 1 pound. If you cut 500 calories from you diet you should lose 1/2-1 pound a week. That is a healthy way to lose weight. Just don’t go below 1200 calories per day. Starving yourself isn’t the answer to weight loss either. There are so many diets and diet pills and programs out there. So if you are looking to lose weight choose wisely. Go talk to a dietitian!!!

Exercise

Billy Blanks

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One of my favorite activities to do is going to the gym. It is a great stress reliever and I enjoy it. I have been working out since I was 15. I would come home from school and do my Tae Bo tape. I can still hear Billy Blanks saying come on 8 more! Now, while I would go exercise my friends would go get fast food. I didn’t eat the healthiest in high school, but what high school student does? I continued to workout through college til now. I loved the rec center at Kent State. It had the Tredmills and ellipticals separate from the weights and it was big and open. I was determined not to gain the dreaded freshman 15, which I didn’t. College was when I started to watch more of what I ate and started eating better. I’m sure my nutrition classes helped too. I worked out all throughout my pregnancies up until the day I delivered. Now I go to the gym three days a week. I usually lift weights and do the elliptical. I would like to go more, so maybe I will work on that. There have been sometimes when I didn’t want to go workout, but I tell myself if after five minutes I still don’t want to be there then I’ll leave. Usually when I do that I end up staying for my whole workout. Exercising just makes me feel better. If I haven’t exercised in awhile I just am not in a good mood, ask my husband if you don’t believe me!
Many people will come up with any excuse not to exercise. “I’m too tired.” “I don’t have time.” “I don’t like to workout.” You don’t have to go to the gym to workout. Even if you walk, that counts as exercise. Exercising gives you more energy. So if you are tired try going for a little walk. No time? Make time! Nothing bad can come from exercising, except for maybe some sore muscles. I’ve had my fair share of torn tendons and sore muscles. I was in physical therapy for almost a year for torn tendons in my hips, butt and knee. It was from overuse and the fact that I didn’t stretch after working out. Needless to say I stretch now and haven’t had any problems since.
Go out and do something active today!

Grocery shopping

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

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Who likes to grocery shop? I don’t. Every Sunday my husband and I go grocery shopping in the morning. It is something I loathe but it has to be done. I’m just glad my husband, Eric, is there to endure it with me. I always try to have a list and make a menu for the week. Planning meals for the week is a chore in and of itself. I try to make things that I know my son, Tyler, will eat. Toddlers can be very picky eaters. I also try to bring some coupons with us. The thing with coupons is they never have any for meat, fruit, milk, and vegetables. Even if you do have a coupon most often then not you have to buy more than one just to get 25-50 cents off. I have found some good coupons though. I am no coupon addict.
When you go grocery shopping you mostly want to stick to the perimeter of the store. That’s where all the fruit, vegetables, meats and dairy products are. When we shop we rarely buy things like pop, chips, and sweets. If it’s not in the house then you won’t eat it! I always stock up on frozen vegetables. They are just as good as fresh and they keep longer. If you have to buy canned fruits and vegetables make sure they are low in sodium and the fruit are in fruit juice not syrup.
Now I’m not saying to just buy all your groceries from the perimeter of the store. I do buy crackers, bread, and rice etc. My son likes to eat goldfish, so I buy him the whole grain ones, which have some fiber in them.
The things we buy mostly are fruit, vegetables, cheese, yogurt, milk, whole wheat pasta, and ground turkey. We wouldn’t have to grocery shop if fruit and vegetables lasted long than a few days. What do you think of grocery shopping? Love it? Hate it?

Portion control

Shut yo face!

Portion sizes over the years have gotten bigger and bigger. As a result so has the waistline of many American’s. Here’ a link to a website showing how portions have changed from 20 years ago.

A coke used to be an 8oz bottle and now they come in 20 oz bottles. A bagel was 3 inches in diameter and now they are 5-6 inches in diameter and 200 or more calories. Not only has portion sizes increased but so has our plates, cups and bowls. The average size of our plates today are 12-13 inches in diameter, compared to 9 inches in the 1960’s. I just measured our plates and they are 11 inches in diameter. With added portion sizes and bigger plates comes more food and more overeating. Did all these changes help to contribute to the obesity epidemic? I think so…but that’s another topic for another day.

So how do you know what is considered a portion size?

3 oz of meat (chicken, beef) is the size of a deck of cards
3oz of fish is the size of a checkbook
2 tablespoons of peanut butter is the size of a ping pong ball
1 cup of fruit/ vegetable and a medium size piece of fruit is the size of your fist
1 cup of salad is the size of a baseball
1 oz of cheese is the size of 3 dice
1 oz of nuts is the size of a handful (not overflowing)
1 pancake is the size of a cd
1/3-1/2cup pasta or rice is the size of an ice cream scoop
1 baked potato is the size of a computer mouse

These are just some examples. Here a link with a printable handout from the American Heart Association.

So the next time you are at a restaurant you can compare the portion sizes of your meal to what a real portion should be. When you do eat out you can always split a meal with someone or ask for a to go bag as soon as you get your meal and put half of your meal in the bag.

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is in two weeks. I can’t believe it! Thanksgiving is a time for family, giving thanks to the people in our lives and eating. For most people it will be eating too much! Turkey will be the main food consumed along with sweet potatoes, dressing, cranberries and pumpkin pie! Our Thanksgiving consists of turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, corn, cranberries, sweet potato casserole, rolls, pumpkin pie and Hershey chocolate pie. My family has two Thanksgivings, one on my side and one on my husband’s side, on the weekend after Thanksgiving. It is nice to have them spaced apart so we aren’t eating two huge meals in one day, which many families do end up doing. Football is another Thanksgiving tradition. I personally don’t care for NFL football, but others do and will watch the game after eating. Some people may fall asleep while watching the game. As many people know turkey contains tryptophan which is an amino acid needed for growth and nitrogen balance. The body uses it make niacin and serotonin. Serotonin helps to promote healthy sleep and stable mood. So that is why many people fall asleep after eating large quantities of turkey.

Some helpful tips for not overeating on Thanksgiving :
1. Eat breakfast, don’t starve yourself all day so you can overeat at meal time.
2. Drink plenty of water. Drink a glass before your meal and drink in between bites.
3. Only have one serving of each, DON’T go back for seconds.
4. Fill your plate with half fruits and vegetables, 1/3 meat and 1/3 grain.
5. If you have dessert have a small serving, skip the whip cream on the pumpkin pie.
6. Go for a walk after your meal or before to help burn some calories! ( it may also help you from falling asleep after eating turkey!)

These are just some tips to help overeating. They are good for most meals also. Don’t think that just because it is a holiday you need to stuff yourself full. Moderation and portion control is the key! Maybe my next post should be on portion control!