Focus on the Food – Not Calories – to Lower Cancer, Chronic Disease Risk

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes together cause about 1.3 million deaths each year in the US. A key lifestyle strategy for preventing and/or managing these diseases is getting to and staying a healthy weight. But losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard, and though many people are able to improve their weight, many more struggle to be successful.

Last month an editorial in Open Heart made a strong case that it’s time to stop counting calories and instead, focus on WHAT you eat.

A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats, has both quick results for better health and long-term benefits for weight, argue the authors. They cite studies looking at how shifting to a healthy diet can lead to immediate positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One of their examples is from the PREDIMED study where participants who ate a Mediterranean, plant-based diet with nuts and olive oil, but not calorie restriction, showed lower rates of type 2 diabetes and improved metabolic health.

We also know – from AICR’s evidence-based recommendations – that eating a diet built on plant foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, can reduce risk for many cancers, including colorectal and endometrial.

NAPC Infographic_Sept18UpdateBut survey after survey finds that the vast majority of adults and kids in our country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

Study: How the New Nutrition Facts Label May Lead You to Eat More

If you saw this label on a food you were about to eat, how would you interpret the serving size? If you’re like most people, you would say that 2/3 cup is the recommended serving for this food, and that common misinterpretation may soon lead you to eat more than you should when the nutrition label serving sizes boost upwards, suggests a recent study published in the journal Appetite

This could cause the unintended consequence of weight gain. AICR’s first recommendation, maintaining a healthy weight, is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce cancer risk.

The serving size on the nutrition label – that 2/3 cup – actually represents the amount most people eat in one sitting. And it’s about to change for about one in five food items as part of the FDA plans to revise the label. We wrote about it here. The proposed label will adjust the serving sizes to more accurately represent what people typically eat, which is more than the current serving sizes. For example, the serving size for ice cream would increase from one-half cup to one cup. Continue reading

Top Four Travel Tips to Keep You Eating Healthy

End-of-summer vacations are here and it’s time to unwind, relax and enjoy the sunshine. I love traveling so I know first-hand that trips can be a real challenge when it comes to eating healthy.

For me and many of my patients, travel means more dining out and different foods. Restaurant meals are almost always higher in calories, fat and salt than meals prepared at home, making it easy to gain weight when dining out multiple times per day. Since obesity is one of the primary factors contributing to increased cancer risk, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.

Here are my top tips to stay healthy and avoid weight gain on vacation:

1. Pack snacks.
Even with great intentions, if it’s been more than 5 hours since your last meal and you’re really hungry, you’re more likely to impulsively eat something unhealthy like those cookies at the rest stop. And it’s just so easy to eat too much, too quickly. Avoid this by having a small snack between meals that are many hours apart so you can make smart choices later. I always bring multiple pre-portioned snack bags in my purse or suitcase when traveling.

My favorite travel snacks: Continue reading