Eating healthy after cancer: Nutrition tips for survivors

By: Ellen Grimlie, LRD .

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You’ve finished cancer treatment and now you’re ready to focus on life after cancer. This is the perfect time to take control of your health through proper nutrition.

Our Midwestern upbringing can sometimes impact efforts toward a healthy diet. For example, many of us have grown up with meat as a staple with meals, and our idea of what a normal portion size is often far too large.

Simple changes

But with some simple adjustments and substitutions, it can be easy to develop healthier habits to benefit your overall health.

  • Replace the main dish of meat with vegetables or beans, which provide fiber and protein. Consider roasting veggies and adding to pasta sauce versus meat.
  • Keep portions in check by using smaller salad plates versus a dinner plate
  • Beans, lentils and quinoa are great sources of protein, fill you up and freeze great. Keep your cupboards stocked with a variety of beans such as black or garbanzo, and whole grains such as quinoa, bulgur, wild rice or brown rice.
  • Try using frozen versus canned vegetables, primarily due to sodium. When you buy fresh vegetables, clean and cut them up before you put them away so they are ready to eat.
  • When you go to the store, have a plan and shop the perimeter where majority of fresh fruits and veggies and protein are located.
  • Find one new recipe to try and get everything you need for that dish. Prepare that and plan on leftovers.
  • Don’t be afraid to freeze anything. You can even freeze individual containers, then you always have one meal ready to go.
  • Be “mindful” when eating. Research suggests we tend to eat more calories and food with fewer nutrients when we are watching TV, driving, or doing other activities.

Five-day sample meal plan

Day 1

  • Oatmeal with walnuts and cranberries
  • Greek Chickpea Salad
  • Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Day 2

  • Yogurt with blueberries and granola
  • Spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar
  • One Pan Pasta

Day 3

  • Poached egg with whole wheat toast
  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • Loaded baked potato with broccoli, cauliflower and cheese

Day 4

  • Oatmeal or cold cereal with milk and fruit
  • Black Bean and Bell Pepper Burrito
  • Polenta and Garden Vegetable Bake

Day 5

  • Yogurt with fresh fruit
  • Turkish Red Lentil and Bulgur Soup
  • Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quinoa Bowl

Posted In Cancer, Health, Healthy Living