A lot of people want to know if they should eat any “superfoods” to make sure that they don’t get cancer, or that their cancer doesn’t come back. The truth is that there is no single food, or food substance that can prevent or cure cancer. But there are many beneficial foods!
Health Protector Foods
I think the most important part of healthy eating is to include the foods that provide your body with the nourishment it needs to function at it’s best. This means that most of the foods you eat are high in the health promoting nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals. I call these foods “protectors“.
Protector foods include fruits, vegetables, minimally processed whole grains, nuts and legumes (dried beans). By getting a variety from each of these groups you will get a good array of nutrients to help fight cancer.
For more on phytochemicals, check out this article:
Things that you want to consider for choosing the right combination of foods is variety in food groups, and moderation in foods that are calorie dense.
Eating smaller portions of calorie dense “treats” or “cheats” is important in finding a healthy balance between foods that feed your body and foods that feed your soul.
Remember that if you think you need to lose weight, benefits can be seen with even a 5-10% decrease. Any change towards a healthy weight is beneficial. Instead of focusing on the scale, focus on how your body feels.
I am NOT a fan of strict diets, restrictive eating patterns or other ways that people often turn to in order to lose weight. More on that here:
I prefer that my clients focus on a mindful eating approach. I contract a dietitian (Debra Benfield) to do an 8 week program here at Cancer Services. They have just started and are on week 2 this week! If you want to learn more about Mindful Eating, Debra highly recommends these books. In fact, the group is using both the book and workbook with this year’s program!
If you’re interested in buying one or both, you can find them here on amazon:
6 Protector Foods to Include in Your Diet Every Day
After giving hundreds of talks about healthy eating for cancer, and answering questions and emails about what survivors should eat, I have come up with a list of the most common things that I recommend after reviewing clients food records.
- Fruits and vegetables: 4-5 cups a day combined. It doesn’t matter to me whether you eat more veggies, or more fruit. Some recommendations will suggest 2 cups fruit + 3 cups veggies. I think whatever fruits and veggies will get on your fork, into your mouth, and swallowed is the right ones to eat!!
- Beans, nuts and seeds: Have plant proteins at least once a day! Get a variety of types. Enjoy as snacks, on salads, in a sandwich, or any other way you enjoy.
- 100% Whole grains: 2-3 cups per day (cooked). 1 standard size slice of bread is equivalent to 1/2 cup.
- Protein: 15- 25 grams at meals. I would not recommend getting more than 35 grams at a time as our bodies can’t utilize the extra very well all at once. More on that here: How Much Protein Do I Need?
- Fluids: drink 64 ounces a day from water, unsweetened tea or coffee. Ideas on making water taste good here: Is Vitamin Water Healthy? Plus a Recipe to Make Your Own!
- Flavor: Use herbs & spices instead of salt based flavorings.
Looking over a food record is something you can do for yourself! Keep track for a week and compare what you eat to this guideline see if you matches pretty closely most of the time. Remember… not every day needs to be perfect for your body to be nourished.
Heather’s Synergistic Salad Recipe
Check out this recipe from a dietitian friend of mine, Heather Katcher PhD, RD. It’s delicious and packed with nutrients! The tofu adds protein to the salad. You can also add chopped walnuts for a little more protein.
It’s synergistic because it combines things from multiple parts of the daily health protector foods list!
Heather's Synergistic Salad
- Romaine lettuce and/or spinach
- Green or red pepper
- Portabella mushrooms (stir fried with a little oil for 5 minutes)
- Tofu cut in 1/2 inch cubes (either fresh or stir fried with a oil and low-sodium soy sauce)
- Slice all vegetables and arrange as a salad with tofu and mushrooms on top. Drizzle balsamic binagrette or your favorite salad dressing and enjoy!
Eat your phytochemicals!