Holidays are over. Time to get back on track with good eating habits. If you’re in treatment for cancer, or have a decreased desire for food, here are some ways to get the most benefit out of food without feeling force-fed, stuffed, then skipping a meal. The purpose of this is to be healthy, not eat now; starve later.
If you’re not eating many fruits, make a fruit smoothie. Even if it’s now and then. Most people make a smoothie in the morning, but if you’d rather have it for lunch, then make one for lunch. Do eat breakfast, though. It’s called breakfast because it breaks the fast you’ve had over night. Eating breakfast gets your metabolism going, so by eating breakfast, you burn calories, too. By not eating a healthy breakfast, your body wonders when the next meal may be, and begins to hold on to what fat it has, “just in case.”
Focus on what to eat rather than what not to eat. Rather than a list of what you can’t eat, shouldn’t eat, or don’t like to eat, make a list of what sounds good to you. What healthy good are you craving? When I was in treatment for cancer and I craved something, I’d go and get it right then, or ask someone to get it for me. I craved foods high in iron. Our bodies are pretty smart. They usually know what we need. Look at what you’re eating.
If your appetite has decreased, eat vegetables at lunch so you don’t have to fit them all in at dinner. Snack on veggies. Cook them slightly and sprinkle seasoning on them, add maybe a *pinch* of cheese on top. You don’t have to eat cups of them; just eat them. Many people know they don’t eat the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables, so they tend to even eat less—knowing they’ve missed the mark already. Some is better than none. Learn how to prepare them in a way you enjoy. Hopefully you’ll decide to save sauces, dips and cheeses for special treats. Just be conscious. . .
Older adults require more protein than younger adults. 30 grams of protein at every meal is recommended to boost muscle mass and strength. It could be an egg, peanut butter, or low-fat yogurt. Greek yogurt is high in protein. Lean meat leftovers such as fish, or chicken can be made into salads for lunch—toss a small handful of nuts or a spoon of beans on the side, and you’ve got yourself a healthy meal.
If you’ve never been a nutrition label reader, start reading them after treatment. It takes some getting used to, and may vary between people if they’re looking for something specific. I was too tired during treatment to use my energy reading labels, and I had years of label reading behind me, so pretty much knew what was high in salt, sugar, fat. Compare brands, too.
It may mean bringing reading glasses with you, and taking a bit longer to read while others reach in front of you, or weave around you with their cart. Don’t worry. Look in their cart! I’m always happy with my choice of health when I do.
This may be the beginning of you making your own pasta sauce and pizza! —And being happier with eating nutritious, minimally processed foods. If not, just learn how to make wise choices.