September is a great time to refresh your priorities, take steps to get healthier and reduce your cancer risk. Being a healthy weight is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk. If losing weight is one of your priorities, we can help you sort through some popular dieting rules that pop up over and over again. And, you’ll hear about our healthy weight loss program: AICR’s New American Plate Challenge begins on September 15.
Rule 1: Just cut out ____ (choose one: sugar, bread, meat …) in your diet
Simply eliminating a single kind of food won’t help tip the scales if you just replace those calories with something different. But too many rich pastries or sugary sodas are obvious targets to help you cut extra calories.
Try this: Replace the pastry with a few whole grain crackers and fruit. Research shows that substituting foods with few calories per bite like fruit, vegetables and whole grains, for calorie-packed foods like donuts, can help you cut calories and still be satisfied.
Rule 2: Eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day
In this case, know yourself to decide if mini-meals work for you. Eating more often may mean you eat more or higher calorie food than you would at a meal. The evidence isn’t clear on how often to eat to get to and stay a healthy weight.
Try this: If you do opt for the mini-meals, keep each small and plant-focused with fruit and/or vegetables and use half portions of sandwiches, lean meats, dairy, nuts or starchy vegetables like potatoes. And drink mostly water or other no calorie beverages like tea.
Rule 3: Don’t eat at night or the food will turn to fat
When you eat is not that important for losing weight and we need more research to understand if time of day influences how our bodies burn calories. However, if your nighttime snacks include chips, ice cream, cookies, sodas and alcohol, you risk eating more calories than you need, especially if you mindlessly eat in front of the TV.
Try this: Eat balanced meals throughout the day to stay energized and keep you from being too hungry later at night. If you want a late-night snack, try microwaving an apple and top with a drizzle of honey and cinnamon.
Rule 4: Sign up for the New American Plate Challenge
Now here’s a rule we can endorse. This energizing and free program beginning September 15 will help you eat healthier and be more active – two important steps to reducing your cancer risk. Each week you’ll get a new challenge related to diet or physical activity with the tools you need to plan healthy meals and make small changes in daily activity that will help you move more.
You’ll be able to track your progress by writing in a personal online journal, posting photos of your meals and activities online and writing on online forums to exchange ideas and cheer others on.
Try this: Join us for a 12-week healthy and inspirational journey, sign up at napchallenge.org.