NAP Challenge #4: 3 x 6 = no more than 18
This week I will eat no more than 18 ounces of cooked red meat which includes beef, pork and lamb. Instead, I will eat fresh fish, chicken, turkey, and beans and nut spreads more often. Also, I will eat processed meats which includes bacon, sausage, salami, and ham no more than once a week with the ultimate goal of eventually avoiding all processed meats.
As we are mastering the 2/3rd rule for filling at least 2/3rds of our plate with plant foods and the more than half equals whole rule of eating more whole grains, we now need to tackle the 1/3rd rule for lean protein animal foods. This week's challenge specifically focuses on limiting red meats such as beef, pork and lamb AND limiting and avoiding processed meats. This challenge includes limiting our proportion of all animal foods to no more than 1/3rd of our plate. We can easily do this if portion sizes of lean proteins are about 3 ounces for lunch and again at dinner. Remember the peace sign? Lean protein fits in the 1/3rd proportion! Peace!
Now back to the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 red meat rule. The rule really means no more than 3 ounces of cooked red meats for 6 meals in a week, so not to exceed eating 18 ounces of cooked red meat. It's as simple as that!
Why limit the proportion of lean animal proteins to 1/3rd of our plate? To make room for more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts which are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that protect the body's cells from damage by cancer-causing agents. These substances can stop cancer before it even starts. Plates with more than 1/3rd of animal proteins tend to be higher in fat and calories and low in protective phytochemicals and fiber. Having more plant-based food on your plate offers fewer calories and more protective nutrients.
Why limit red meat to no more than 18 ounces weekly? The AICR expert report found that risk of colorectal cancer (the third leading cause of cancer death in the US) increases significantly with red meat consumption above 18 ounces per week. Red meat contains heme iron, the compound that gives red meat its color, which may damage the lining of the colon. Studies also show that people who eat a lot of red meat tend to eat less plant-based foods, so they benefit less from their cancer-protective properties.
Why avoid processed meats altogether? The AICR expert panel found evidence that eating processed meat increases the chances of colorectal cancer. Research on processed meat shows cancer risk starts to increase with any portion. When meat is preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or by the addition of preservatives, cancer-causing substances (carcinogens) can be formed. These substances can damage cells in the body, leading to the development of cancer. Now let's translate the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 into your plate.
- Limit serving sizes of chicken, fish and lean red meat to about 3 ounces cooked. Remember a 4-ounce portion (quarter pound) of uncooked boneless chicken, fish or lean red meat will shrink to about a 3-ounce portion or serving after cooking. So 1 pound of ground turkey meat provides 4 (4-ounce) patties that will be about 3-ounces each after cooking. The patties will be about the size of a deck of cards.
- Know that red meats include beef, pork and lamb.
- Go lean with protein. Eat lean cuts of red meats such as sirloin, loin, round and mignon. Select 96/4 (96% lean, 4% fat) ground meats.
- Enjoy more often non-red meat choices such as fish, seafood, chicken, beans or nuts for lunch and dinner.
- Eat lean red meat at no more than 6 out of 14 lunch and dinner meals per week: 3-ounces x 6 meals = 18-ounces lean red meat weekly – that's the 3 x 6 = no more than 18 rule
- Replace processed meats used in sandwiches with 2-tablespoons peanut, almond or cashew butter, 1/2-cup garbanzo bean (hummus), black bean or other bean spread, 3-ounces fresh baked or roasted chicken or turkey (not deli-style processed), 3-ounces roasted beef loin or round of beef, pork or lamb, 1/2-cup chicken, tuna or fish salad, 1½-ounce lower-fat cheese such as Jarlsburg; good protein substitutes for processed meats also include 1/2-cup tofu, 1/3-cup nuts, 1-cup Greek-style high protein low-fat yogurt and 1/2-cup low-fat cottage cheese
- Eat at least one meatless lunch or dinner meal weekly such as a Meatless Monday or Tofu Tuesday or Thursday (you could order bean curd with vegetables and brown rice from a local Chinese restaurant or Tofu Pad Thai with extra bean sprouts and side order of vegetables)