Overweight and obesity are responsible for about 120,000 cases of cancer in the United States each year. Nearly 1 in 2 Americans develops cancer at some point in their lives.
Although cancer touches many of us, many parents and health educators are unaware that prevention starts early – in childhood, or even in utero! Diet can affect not only your health, but that of generations to come. Last month, I spoke about healthy eating strategies for parents and educators in a webinar, working with AICR.
Here are some highlighted tips for cancer prevention:
- Eat more beans. They’re packed with phytochemicals and fiber –both, which can play a role in disease prevention. To cut back on sodium in canned beans, rinse them first. It decreases the sodium content by as much as 40%.
- Find creative ways to move more! Have a “dark party” with your kids and their friends. Buy a pack of Glow-sticks and give each child a couple, crank up the volume on their favorite dance tunes and turn off the lights!
- Embrace meatless Mondays. Experiment with portobello burgers, tofu stir-fry, veggie pizzas, black bean and avocado tacos, bean enchiladas, sweet potato chili with quinoa, veggie slaws or Asian buckwheat noodles with veggies and a spicy peanut sauce. Eating more plant-based foods can help lower risk of some cancers.
- Cut back on every day sugar. Buy plain instead of flavored yogurt or choose yogurts with the least amount of added sugar. Sweeten plain yogurt with fresh, dried or frozen fruit, homemade fruit compotes and apple sauces then add some nuts. Try combos like: mashed banana + cinnamon + walnuts, sliced strawberries + unsweetened cocoa powder, defrosted frozen blueberries + grated fresh ginger + unsweetened coconut flakes, diced mango + squeeze of lime, diced peaches + slivered almonds, diced guava + fresh mint. Add a bit of vanilla extract or honey if you need a bit of extra sweetness.
- Add veggies to your desserts. Bake veggie muffins and breads for treats with ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot or zucchini. Add a couple of tablespoons of fruit or veggie purees – avocado, beet, apple and banana work well – to your favorite baked good recipe for extra moisture, nutrients and fiber. Try these delicious 100% oat zucchini muffins.
- Tie your good health to charity. Why not combine doing good for yourself with doing good for someone else. Start a club that pledges to walk instead of drive somewhere once a week, pool the saved gas money and donate it to a favorite charity. Significant differences can be made in the lives of others for as little as 50 cents.
- Swap meals with a friend! Double your favorite healthy recipe, pack up the extra portion and exchange it with a friend for their favorite dinner. You cook once but your family eats twice!
Looking for more healthy living tips all while preventing cancer? The webinar Food Matters for Families! Strategies to Foster Eating for Health And Cancer Prevention, will teach you how to turn on your protective shield with foods and strategies that work for your body. Whether you’re a parent or a health educator, you’ll walk away with effective tips and tools to create a healthier you, happier family and clients.
Melissa Halas-Liang is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a masters in nutrition education. She is founder of SuperKids Nutrition Inc. where she is “saving the world, one healthy food at a time.” Read more about her Super Crew characters and visit her site www.superkidsnutriton.com. Then discover how nutrition can help you live your best health potential through her on-line courses and blog, Melissa’s Healthy Living.
Melissa is also AICR’s partner in AICR’s Healthy Kids Today – Prevent Cancer Tomorrow campaign.