Aside from the usage of tobacco, your diet is one of the most important cancer risk factors that you have the ability to control. According to the American Cancer Society almost half of Americans don’t read product labels! Even though this is one of the best things you could do for your health, and can help you determine if you are making healthy choices. Knowing what is in the foods that you are consuming can drastically improve your health by encouraging you to make smarter choices.
In recent years, research has made great strides in educating the public on what foods to eat, and why certain ingredients are harmful. There is a largerthan ever push to eliminate preservatives, artificial ingredients and dyes in the foods we consume. There are even many mobile phone apps dedicated to helping you achieve your healthy eating goals, by allowing you to look up restaurant menus to see nutrition information. According to the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition, it is recommended that people limit processed meat and red meat, eat at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day, choose whole grains over refined grain products, and consume reasonable serving sizes to maintain a healthy weight. It also recommends limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. These guidelines are quite simple, yet it can be difficult to overcome the temptations of boxed goods in the grocery store, or special sales in the meat department. A good rule of thumb is to shop the outer corners of the grocery store, and limit the time spent in the middle of the store where most of the boxed products are located. Filling you cart first with a majority of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins (chicken or fish) can help limityour temptation to purchase those unnecessary and unhealthy snacking options.
Some find it difficult to eat healthy while “on the go.” A great tip for this is to plan ahead. This is one area that I have personally been trying to improve upon. I certainly noticed a big difference when I plan my lunches for the week and I don’t have to eat out. It is not only healthier, but it can also save money. I have recently begun mixing my own trail mix, an idea I found in the American Cancer Society Healthy Eating Cookbook; this is a better option than prepackaged brands that usually have an excess of sodium. Mixing lightly salted almonds, Craisins®, dried banana slices, and desiccated coconut flakes is one combination that is great for that 2 PM pickme up, and is a much better alternative to a Starbucks Frappuccino, which can contain 500 calories or more.
If you are interested in purchasing the American Cancer Society Healthy Eating Cookbook please visit the American Cancer Society Bookstore at www.cancer.org/americancancer society-books. This book was published in 2016, and includes 232 pages of nutritional information and recipes. The bookstore also features many other publications on the subject of health and wellness, and cancer-related topics.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about the American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health concern by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood St., Suite 101 and is open daily from 9 AM-5 PM. For more information about volunteering or any of the events mentioned in this column please contact
Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-
642-8800 ext. 3890.