Testing the (cooking) Water

Cooking can save you money and help you and your family eat healthier, which will lower your risk of getting cancer. (It’s also really helpful when you’re trying to lose weight, which is why it’s a part of the New American Plate Challenge.) canstockphoto4003655

However, if you don’t cook a lot, getting started in the kitchen can be daunting. I know when I started cooking, even basic meals seemed overwhelming. It might be that you don’t have a lot of time, the right tools in the kitchen, or you’ve just never really tried.

But cooking can be a lot of fun, and it doesn’t have to be challenging. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Get your kitchen essentials:

  • 3 quart (or larger) sauce pan or stockpot
  • 10-12 inch frying pan
  • Large chopping knife
  • Cutting board
  • Glass or ceramic baking dish
  • Spatula and wooden spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • Set of mixing bowls

Spice it up with herbs
Make sure to also stock up on a few basic herbs and spices – these can help flavor food without adding a lot of salt. I recommend a basic Italian herb mix or any other salt-free blends, like those by Mrs. Dash. Continue reading

Cancer Prevention Starts with Goals

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image26386669It’s Colorectal Cancer Awareness month and for this cancer — along with many others — we know that moving more, eating nutritious foods and staying lean are important for reducing risk. Most of us live busy, fast-paced lives with habits that have been established over a lifetime, so it can be hard to figure out where to begin. Have you ever said “I’ll try to go to the gym more” or “I’ll try to eat less dessert”? By saying I’ll try you are already giving yourself an excuse to not follow through.

That’s why setting concrete goals can be really helpful. Let’s say your general goal is to be more active. That goal is vague, and won’t hold you accountable or allow you to measure your progress. Turning that goal into a concrete SMART goal will make it more achievable.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific: A specific goal describes exactly what you must do to reach your goal. What will you do to be more active?
  • Measurable: A measurable goal allows you to track your progress. How often will you be more active?
  • Achievable: A goal can be as high as you want it to be, but make sure you know it is possible. Will that type of activity be something you can do now? If not, maybe start with something smaller and aim to work up to running a 5K, for example.
  • Realistic: Goals should be realistic considering your resources and time. How can you fit your goal into your budget and schedule?
  • Timely: Give yourself a specific time frame to reach your goal. When do you aim to reach your goal by?

Now let’s return to the original goal: to be more active. Turning it into a SMART goal, you might say: “I will take the stairs instead of the elevator at work 3 times per week over the next month.” Write down your goal and put it somewhere you’ll see it often, like on your fridge or next to the computer at work. When you reach your goal set a new one – continue to challenge yourself as you make accomplishments!

What is your SMART goal for cancer prevention?

Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.

Dieting Tricks or Myths?

You may have heard a lot about health-related myths recently. An article from the New England Journal of Medicine dispels myths about obesity that even health-care providers often state as fact. canstockphoto5701649

With February 4th being World Cancer Day, AICR published a piece to set the facts straight about cancer. One important truth is that excess body fat increases risk for 7 types of cancer. As a dietitian who works daily with individuals trying to lose weight, I’d like to clear up some common myths about weight loss that I hear regularly.

Myth 1: “I switched to extra virgin olive oil [instead of butter] to help me lose weight.”

Truth: Let’s first look at the rationale behind this claim. Olive oil is mostly made of unsaturated fat, the kind that is good for heart health (the same type of fat also found in nuts and avocados). Butter, on the other hand, is mostly made of saturated fat, which increases total cholesterol and “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood. This can increase your risk for heart disease.

However, this is a weight loss myth because whether it is butter or extra virgin olive oil, the calories are the same. One gram of any type of fat equals about 9 calories. Continue reading