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The cancer fighters on your plate

The cancer fighters on your plate

Photo Credit: VXLA

With the holiday season comes quality time with family and friends, exciting festivities, and… lots of food. It can be easy to throw all semblance of a balanced diet out the window for the remainder of the year. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s okay to indulge during a meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas with the right mindset on what to put on your plate. In fact, there are even ways to fight cancer sitting right there on your dining room table.

Through this blog, we’ll guide you through a holiday from start to finish, with the help of OSUCCC – James nutritionist Candice Schreiber.

The Preparation

It can be a lot of fun to get everything ready for the big event. There can also be a lot of temptation to snack all day when getting things ready in the kitchen. To start, set boundaries on what you’re going to eat. This could be along the lines of allowing yourself a few crackers and cheese, but then having a healthier snack on hand for those other times.

And if others around you have already started the holiday binging, take the time to exercise instead.

“Enjoy a walk or do another activity if you don’t want to have the pressure of eating with others,” Schreiber recommends.

Schreiber also stresses that meals shouldn’t be skipped to save calories for the big holiday dinner. Set a good base for the day with a nutritious meal or snack. Some great cancer-fighting snacks include carrots, apples, and walnuts.

Photo Credit: Arvind Grover

The Meal

Time for the main event. Begin your meal by building a healthy plate. Schreiber says to make half of your plate vegetables, one quarter protein, and one quarter carbs. Sounds easy, right?

“Most of the food served around the holidays is carbohydrates,” she says. “Pick one or two of those options. Just don’t make it your entire plate.”

When it comes to vegetables, there are many health benefits in the form of phytochemicals. These phytochemicals give vegetables their smell, taste, and color. Scientists also believe that phytochemicals can protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer.

Greens or root vegetables are a great place to start for those cancer-fighting benefits. As a word of caution, though, the health advantages are greater when they aren’t smothered in creamed soup or marshmallows. (Sorry, Aunt Linda, your green bean casserole does taste sublime – it’s just not as healthy as roasted vegetables).

The Dessert

We would never tell you to skip the dessert. Just focus again on setting boundaries. Enjoy a slice of something – not the entire pie. For a dessert that is best for cancer prevention, try something with berries, which contain a wide range of phytochemicals.

Another good piece of news? You don’t need to worry about the soy products in many of your store-bought baked goods. There’s a common misconception today that soy increases chances for breast cancer, but this is incorrect. Schreiber says this idea stems from an older research study that goes against newer research and available information. You can read more about the myths surrounding soy and breast cancer here.

Something you really should stay away from? Eggnog. A typical cup has over 350 calories! It’s better to stick to milk or if you want a more fun drink, try a sparkling water with fresh fruit.

The Day After

Time to resume normal life and eating habits. Pass off some of the leftovers to family members and freeze the rest so you can eat them in moderation.

“If you want to indulge on a meal, that’s okay,” Schreiber says. “Just remember that the holiday is one day. It’s not a multi-day activity.”


ABOUT CANDICE SCHREIBER

Candice Schreiber, RD, CSO, LD, is a clinical nutritionist at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). She provides free supportive care services for survivors and nutrition classes.

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