So, how’s your diet?
Unhappy word, diet. For the vast majority of us, “diet” is something negative, connoting deprivation. And who among us wants to feel deprived, especially once cancer has invited itself into our lives? We already feel deprived enough of good health, of emotional serenity, of the belief we’ll live a long life. Stop eating our favorite foods, too? I don’t think so. Bring on the ice cream!
But “diet” doesn’t have to mean Atkins, South Beach, or Weight Watchers. It can simply mean what it truly DOES mean: what are you feeding yourself each day? Let’s start there, and throw away all the anxiety that accompanies the word. Because that anxiety is based on SO much more than food: body image, expectations (ourselves and society’s), and fear of change all play into this one innocent term. And that’s unfair.
Just for the moment, let’s forget the effect diet has on your looks. I know, I know, that’s the chief concern for most of us: how many calories (fat grams, carbs) can I consume today and not add another 1/4” to my waistline? But let’s think of diet as a positive: what can I put into my body that’ll decrease my risk of cancer recurrence? (And no, the answer isn’t a hot fudge sundae!)
“Five servings (or more) daily of fruits and vegetables.” That’s the current advice, per everyone from the government’s USDA food pyramid to that University of California study mentioned above. Amazing how simple it sounds. Surprising how few of us manage to eat those five servings every day. What’s stopping us? Time? Money? Lack of desire? Let’s break down those obstacles.
• Time. OK, this just plain shouldn’t be an issue. How long does it take to peel a banana? Or slice a tomato? Ah, you say, but those things involve trips to the supermarket… Yeah, and eating takeout Chinese or pizza involves a drive to the restaurant, or at least some phone time arranging delivery. Unless you never, ever, EVER grocery shop, time shouldn’t be a consideration. Follow these simple directions: On your way to the cereal aisle or frozen foods, stop by the produce section and pick out a head of lettuce, three pears, a small bunch of bananas, and a couple of cukes. Bingo. You did it.
• Money. Yes, depending on the season, fruits and vegetables can get pretty pricey. But think of the per-pound price of EVERYTHING you buy. “Pricey” for a pound of vegetables may be $3 or $4. How does that compare to a box of cereal? A frozen dinner? Ice cream or cheese, meat or fish? Purchase the fruits and vegetables on sale that week. If they’re still beyond your means, turn down the juice aisle and pick up a can of vegetable juice or unsweetened fruit juice (3/4 cup of which is a serving). Or buy a box of raisins (1/4 cup = one serving). Shop smart; fruits and vegetables should be one of the least expensive options during your trip to the store.