Helpful Tips for Lifestyle Change

Audrey Carson

CURE, Winter 2012, Volume 11, Issue 4

Tips for maintaining a healthy weight after cancer.

A recent study tracked the eating habits of obese and overweight postmenopausal women who were given selfmonitoring dietary behaviors to follow for one year.

The results showed:

> Women who kept a food journal lost 6 more pounds than those who didn’t;

> Those who never skipped meals lost 8 more pounds than those who reported skipping meals; and

> Those who did not eat out often lost 5 more pounds than those who ate lunch at a restaurant at least once a week.

Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, cancer prevention researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, says keeping a food journal helped participants count calories and pay attention to what they ate. As for eating regularly, she says, though it isn’t proven, skipping meals could cause a heightened response to high-calorie foods, resulting in the body taking in more calories. And restaurants often serve larger portions and prepare richer and higher-calorie foods than those cooked at home.

Stacy Kennedy, a certified specialist in oncology nutrition, registered dietitian and senior clinical nutritionist at Dana-Farber/ Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston, recommends cancer survivors consume at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables daily for a healthy liver and to provide important phytonutrients that can support the immune system. These include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. She also recommends eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as each color family provides different essential nutrients. For example, the red of a tomato comes from lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that in some studies has been associated with reduced risk of some cancers.

For fighting fatigue, Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, a registered dietitian and associate director for cancer prevention and control at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, suggests exercising in the morning as it prevents excuses later in the day. It can also decrease fatigue for the rest of the day.

Russell Kennedy, PsyD, a behavioral specialist formerly at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., recommends the Cancer Support Community, an organization that offers free emotional, psychological and healthy lifestyle support at more than 100 locations. worldwide. Visit cancersupport community.org for more information.