Cancer Prevention Diets

AICR: The New American Plate

Written by Lena Gill, RD, CSO, CD

“Is there a special diet I should be following right now?”

As a registered dietitian and certified specialist in oncology nutrition, I get asked this question often.  Honestly, I love being asked this because it gives me the opportunity to tell people that taking an interest in what they eat is the first step to reducing their chances of cancer or recurring cancers.  It also helps reduce their risk of developing other chronic health problems such as heart disease and type II diabetes.  I know that we can’t change genetics, but we can control what we eat.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), “Scientists estimate that one-third of cancer cases could be prevented if everyone ate a healthy diet.”  I especially like how famous biochemist, Paul Stitt, puts it: “The cure for cancer will not be found under the microscope, it’s on the dinner plate.”

The AICR has developed a simple way for us to create meals and manage portions to assure that even the busiest person who doesn’t have time to cook, or the picky eater who hates vegetables, can still eat healthy—and enjoy it, too.

The New American Plate (developed by the AICR) shows us how we can divide our plate into thirds where two thirds of the plate includes plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans while the other one third includes fish, poultry, meat and dairy.  By dividing our plate this way, it helps us control the portion that we eat (without always having to weigh or measure).  With all of the fiber rich fruits, veggies and whole grains, we are able to fill up quickly on the foods that contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (natural substances found only in plants—more to come on this) that can help stop cancer growth before it even starts.  Another bonus?  These items have fewer calories (helping us reach our healthy weight) while satisfying our hunger without deprivation of any specific food group (Yes, there is room for chocolate!).

Check out AICR’s website to see how easy it can be for you to transition from the “Old American Plate” to the “New American Plate.”  While you’re there, sign up to receive some great recipes, sent directly to your inbox—don’t be afraid to try something new—You just might like it and you will gain health benefits, too!  And when you sit down to your next meal, ask yourself this question: “How close is the plate in front of me to The New American Plate?”

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