Tracy Childs, a representative with the Cancer Project, answers questions about the connection between diet and cancer and the best way to experience the benefits of plant-based nutrition to help you on your journey to better health.
What are the statistics regarding diet and cancer risk?
Reviews by the American Institute for Cancer Research showed that as much as 40 percent of cancer risk may be attributed to diet.
How can I view my eating habits differently?
Never say diet. Diets are something we begin and finish. We are only interested in lasting changes. Dieting causes your body to activate its “fat programs” in response to a perceived famine. Don’t think of eating healthfully as a list of don’ts. Think about what you do eat and get creative. Practice mindful eating by thinking about your food and where it comes from. Concentrate on the healing nature of your food.
What are some helpful guidelines and materials that I can refer to?
Check out Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). Kale and collards top the list. When you give your body the nutrition/fiber it needs, it is satisfied with fewer calories. See the film “Forks Over Knives.” Use what’s on your fork to help avoid going under the knife.
What changes can I easily incorporate?
Fill up on low-fat, high-fiber, whole foods. Use the blinder's method. Only “see” the foods that are acceptable to you.
What’s the best approach to making long-term changes?
Try the 3-3-3 method. Three healthy meals you currently make plus three meals you can modify to make healthy and three new recipes that are your new go-to favorites. Also try to attempt an every two weeks plan. Change one thing in your kitchen and diet for the better, every two weeks. And try a short-term, five-day plan. Plan ahead for the next five days. Be 100 percent committed, then reassess. Attempt one new recipe per week. For a year, find a new healthy recipe each week to try.
Are there other tips that you can offer to integrate healthy changes?
It’s OK to be different and eat differently than others. You are free to do what’s right for you. Attend healthy cooking classes to get new recipe ideas. It is also a great place to meet others on the same path. Try to find a foodie friend. You never know who might be interested in joining in on the fun. Find your blockages — what is keeping you from reaching your health goals? Do your research — seek information to empower yourself and your decision to eat healthfully. Use imagery — see the good foods in a positive light and others as negative. Don’t sabotage your taste buds. Commit 100 percent and your body and taste buds will thank you.
For More Information
To learn more about Sharp's nutrition services or to find a Sharp-affiliated physician, search for San Diego doctors or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about nutrition, read the Nutrition News archive.
About the Expert
Tracy Childs is a representative with the Cancer Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to nutrition education and research for cancer prevention and survival.