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Frequently Asked Questions

 


What tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season?

Avoiding weight gain because of increased access to more types of (yummy!) high-calorie foods during the holiday season is a common and legitimate concern. Actually I think this “season” starts at Halloween with availability of all that candy! However, the fear that most people gain 5-10# during this time of year is a misconception, because research has shown a more typical gain is 1-2#. While that amount of weight gain does not sound like a lot and may even bring a sigh of relief, research has also shown that this weight gain is often permanent, and thus over time, many years of this small holiday weight gain does begin to add up and show up around the hips and the abdominal area.

Don’t take a holiday from your healthy lifestyle for the holiday season, but you needn’t feel like the holiday Grinch either. Here are some suggestions to help you maintain your healthy lifestyle during this tempting season:

  1. Know and/or redefine your goals. It may not be reasonable to continue to lose weight if that has been your focus during the prior months. However, it is reasonable to shoot for weight maintenance at this time.
  2. Never go to a party hungry! Eat a little something healthy before you leave home or the office to take the edge off your appetite. A small handful of nuts and dried fruit kept in a little baggie in your desk or purse is one helpful suggestion.
  3. Survey the entire menu before ordering or all of the buffet tables before even taking a plate. Think about the options before you and how the various foods and beverages (and their portion sizes) help support and nurture your goals.
  4. Fill your plate with low calorie foods like fresh fruit slices and veggies, so you have less room on your plate for high-calorie foods. Eat with intention, not mindlessly. Eat slowly! Savor and enjoy your food.
  5. Plan for only one trip to the buffet table. When finished eating, throw your plate away so you are not tempted to keep “grazing”. Find some friends or someone new to talk to instead!
  6. Food is more than “biochemistry”; food is also happiness and also feeds the soul. Think about which food is your all-out favorite during this time of year, and choose a small portion without guilt to savor and enjoy. (My favorite food that I only eat at this time of year? Those sinfully delicious chocolate-mint brownies! Sorry, I don’t have a “healthy” recipe on my web site for this, but my recipe for brownies with black beans could be used as a base.)
  7. Offer to bring one of your favorite recipes to add to the buffet table that is beautiful, delicious, and healthy. One of my favorite recipes is Black Bean Salad. People ask for this recipe every place I take it!
  8. Remember the calories from beverages. I limit myself to one 4-6 ounce glass of red wine per night and otherwise drink unsweetened iced tea, plain or sparkling water with a slice of lemon or lime.
  9. Continue to fit in exercise, even if you do not have time to do your routines as often as usual. Find a “buddy” for support to help you maintain your commitment to a healthy lifestyle during this tempting season.
  10. Keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with healthy food items, so you can make healthy meals or snacks quickly. Whenever you do cook, be sure to double or triple the recipe so you have healthy leftovers either in the frig or freezer for the days when you are rushed for time. Have a few healthy and quick meals in mind with those ingredients on hand. Here are a couple to consider:
    a. Italian Butter Bean Soup
    b. Simplest and Easiest Chili Ever!
    c. Quick Chicks
    d. Tuna Melt Sandwich


If you are still undergoing cancer therapy or recovering from surgery, here are a few special suggestions:

  1. Fatigue may be a big concern and limit your activities this year. Do not (repeat – do not!) feel guilty about what you cannot do at this time. Ask friends and family to help with all the traditional holiday activities such as gift buying, wrapping, baking, sending of cards, decorating, etc. Or “down-size”. This may not be the year to host or organize the huge family dinner, office party, or family vacation. I remember one year when I was undergoing chemotherapy during the holiday season. My family and I stayed in our PJ’s all day on Christmas, took naps between opening the gifts in our stocking and other gifts, and we also ate simple leftovers instead of cooking a large meal. Guess what – we actually had such a good time “doing nothing” that “doing nothing” on Christmas Day became our new family tradition for many many years.
  2. If you are experiencing eating problems such as decreased appetite, nausea or other GI side effects at this time, it is actually a good idea to NOT eat your favorite holiday foods to avoid the chance that you might experience a bad reaction from one of them and have that association lead to avoiding that food forever. That would be too bad and very sad.
  3. If your immune system is still compromised, food safety is a critical issue. This is a time when hot foods must be kept hot and cold foods must be kept cold, along with impeccable food handling techniques to reduce the risk of acquiring a food-borne illness.
    a. If a “neutropenic diet” has been recommended because your white blood counts are very low, check with your own cancer center’s dietitian for specific guidelines of foods to avoid. General information is also available on my web site.
    b. Foods with eggs, dairy, or mayonnaise should not be at room temperature for more than 1 hour.
    c. In general, avoid salad bars and deli foods and buffets.
    d. Meats such as poultry must be cooked to a temperature of 160-170 degrees.
    e. Do not leave that turkey or ham at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
    f. Of course, always wash your hands before any food preparation.
    g. An excellent and in-depth discussion of food safety guidelines is available from the Seattle Cancer Alliance

I hope these ideas have been helpful so that you can truly enjoy the holiday seasons with feelings of both gratefulness and joy.

 

posted 11/06

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Nutritional Concerns during Cancer Recovery

Nutritional Concerns during Recovery How do you eat in restaurants and still maintain an ultra-healthy diet? posted 12/99
Nutritional Concerns during Cancer Recovery Do you ever 'CHEAT' on your diet? posted 12/99
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery What do you eat for snacks?
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery What is your opinion on other books on nutrition and cancer? posted 4/00
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery Can one eliminate dairy and meat (but not eggs) and still work with your recommended dietary changes?
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery What are your views about sugar for cancer patients? Does it *feed* tumors? Should I avoid it in any form? posted 08/00
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery What can be done to relieve the fatigue I am still experiencing since my cancer therapy has been completed? Will any dietary supplements help me? posted 7/01
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery Please give me your advice on microwaved food and cancer? posted 2/02
Nutritional Concerns during Recovery I have recently heard that Vitamin A may be linked to osteoporosis. I see Vitamin A in nearly everything on food labels, even my soymilk. What is the connection and how much should I be consuming? posted 5/02, updated 2/03
Gastric Cancer Will consuming dairy foods increase my risk for ovarian cancer recurring? posted 11/02
Gastric Cancer Diana, what are the top 10 - 20 foods that you make sure you eat on a regular basis? posted 12/02
Gastric Cancer Diana, What 5 things have you changed in your diet that you think are the most important for enhancing the odds for long-term cancer recovery?
posted 12/02
Gastric Cancer Do you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer?
posted 1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 5/01
Gastric Cancer Is there any diet to alleviate lymphedema resulting from cancer surgery? posted 8/04
Gastric Cancer How "strict" do I need to be with my diet? posted 5/05
Gastric Cancer What tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted 11/06

 


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Nutritional Concerns during Cancer Treatment (related to side effects)

Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Can you provide a list of all chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents that may potentially have interactions with antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy? posted 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Dear Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What should I do? posted 7/01
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Can I drink your soy shake recipes if my oncologist or dietitian has recommended that I follow a neutropenic diet due to my low white blood cell counts? posted 5/00, updated 7/01, updated 11/02, updated 8/03
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Should I consume antioxidants during my cancer therapy? posted 12/01, updated 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted 4/01, updated 9/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Are there any diet changes to help relieve bloating during abdominal radiation? posted 4/03
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Do you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer?
posted 1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 1/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of my chemotherapy? posted 1/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can you tell me foods to eat to reduce the acid in my urine and pain in my bladder and ureters? posted 2/04, updated 5/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I eat a diet as healthy as you suggest if I need to be
hospitalized for more than a day or two?
posted 3/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment My husband is having chemotherapy treatments and has lost his sense
of taste after one treatment. Are there any foods I can prepare that will give him some relief?
posted 9/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is there a good web site describing the nutrition related side effects from chemo drugs? posted 10/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Should I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many antioxidants? posted 7/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I use the diet recommendations on your web site and in your book to both increase my intake of cancer fighting foods for optimizing my cancer recovery and lose weight at the same time? posted 3/06
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment What tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted 11/06

 


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These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

 
Contact Information:
Phone/Fax: 734/996-9260

P.O. Box 130221, Ann Arbor, MI  48113

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