Improving the American Diet

Eat healthier

If you are used to the typical American diet, it may feel overwhelming to change.  But there are many ways you can make small changes to help your body fight cancer. 

The American diet is almost designed for convenience - quick and easy access to calories needed to get through the day.  It generally involves high intakes of red meat, processed meat, pre-packaged foods, butter, fried foods, high-fat dairy products, eggs, refined grains, potatoes, corn(and High-fructose corn syrup) and high-sugar drinks.

All of these foods can contribute to health issues and inflammation that make it difficult for your body to fight cancer.

If you are used to a diet rich in processed foods, if you find you have little time to cook meals at home, then the important thing to do is find ways you can add in more cancer fighting foods into you existing pattern of eating.  Take one change at a time, and try that for a few days or a week, then try another change.  Before you know it, you'll be eating more healthy foods that will help your body.

Some people think of it as the Eat This, Not That approach.  Find substitutions for things you love, but shouldn't eat.

Water or Juice, Instead of Soda

One of the easiest changes is to stop drinking soda or fruit punch or sugary drinks.  They may taste good, but if you switch to water, or real fruit juice, then your body will get more of what it needs to fight cancer - flushing out toxins as you heal.  Treat soda or fruit punch as a dessert to enjoy as a rare treat rather than drinking these throughout the day.

When you're thirsty, first try to drink water.  Water is great for flushing toxins, and it works the best for quenching your thirst.  If you want something a little more, try a good quality juice for a pick-me-up.  Fruit juices, especially freshly squeezed fruit juice, can be very tasty and satisfying, and provides nutrients your body craves.

No Meat, Lean Meat, or Less Meat

Most Americans consume too much meat, comprising nearly 30% of our typical diet.  It's not uncommon to start the day with eggs and sausage, followed by a hamburger or deli sandwich at lunch, and wrapping up with a roast or steak for dinner.  The typical American Diet can be more than double the recommended protein needed.  Instead of a double cheeseburger, go for the single.  Instead of cooking a large steak, take a smaller portion and balance it with more vegetables or salad.  Think of your meat serving as matching the size of your fist.

Also, when trying to eat less meat, try adding variety to your plate.  Just eating more salad might not be satisfying to someone craving a hamburger.  Try adding avocado to that salad, or crunchy nuts.  Try legumes, or beans and rice on the plate for a healthy plant-based protein.  It's okay to eat meat in moderation, the goal is to reduce that amount.


Raw, Grilled, or Steamed not Fried

It takes a long time to digest fried foods, so it's harder for your body to get the nutrients it needs from the other food you eat, and fewer calories will be burned making you feel sluggish and tired.  Most restaurants give you a much larger portion than you need (for french fries and other fried items).  If you love your fries, try eating the other parts of your meal first, and share your order of fries with a friend.  Eat slowly, and if you begin to feel full, stop eating - you eat less, feel better but still enjoy the taste.

If you want a substitution, think of having a baked or mashed potato instead of fries.  Try broiling or grilling chicken instead of fried chicken.   Try raw carrots or veggies instead of chips.


Whole Grains

Refined grains are things like bleached white flour found in packaged foods and snacks.   

In this case, it's less about finding a substitution, as it is about looking at labels and making sure you see 'whole grains'.  If you are buying crackers, or bread, there are lots of options with whole grains that you may find have more flavor than the bleached white options.