Award-wining nutritionist Marion Nestle pinpoints three simple rules for healthy eating, both for the prevention of cancer and during treatment: eat a variety of foods, eat a minimal amount of processed foods, and that old standby, eat everything in moderation.
Nestle’s 2006 book, What to Eat, was named one of Amazon.com’s top ten books the year it was published, and Eating Well magazine called it a “Must Read.” Unlike other nutrition guides, Nestle’s book is organized as an aisle-to-aisle supermarket guide to help consumers make informed and healthy choices when shopping. In a recent interview with Cook for Your Life, she talked about intakes and outcomes.
How important is eating a healthy diet during treatment for cancer, and why?
Eating healthfully is always important, and makes people feel better, no matter what. But when cancer treatment is involved, the importance is dramatically increased.
What are your recommendations for people to make their diets healthier, both for prevention and during treatment?
I go with the American Cancer Society guidelines (see below). They are well-grounded in research and reality.
Can you summarize some of the issues you talk about in What to Eat?
It’s about food issues for the general public. I use the supermarket as an organizing device and go aisle by aisle discussing every question I could think of in that section of the supermarket. What to Eat is a book about food issues.
You don’t need training to eat, you just need to eat real food. Where people get into trouble is that they have stopped eating food and started eating pre-packaged products, products that may have started off as food but have changed along the way by processing.
What motivated you to get started in nutritional work?
Simple. I like to eat, and I think food is absolutely delicious, and there’s nothing quite like the pleasure that it gives multiple times a day. I was curious to know what kind of diet was really healthy, and what evidence there was for it. I liked the work because I was a foodie.
Was healthy eating a part of growing up for you?
I remember going to a summer camp in Vermont that had a vegetable garden. If you were a good camper you got to pick the vegetables for dinner. That connection between something that was growing and you could pick – things right off the vine and warmed by the sun and were really incomparably delicious — that was something I just haven’t forgotten.
In addition to What to Eat, Marion is the author of Why Calories Count to be released April 1st, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (2002) and Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), both from University of California Press. In 2008, Nestle published Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine.
The American Cancer Society guidelines:
*Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.
*Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
* Pay attention to standard serving sizes and read food labels to become more aware of the number of actual servings you eat.
* Eat smaller portions of high-calorie foods. Be aware that “low-fat” or “nonfat” does not mean “low-calorie” and that low-fat cakes, low-fat cookies, and other low-fat foods are often high in calories.
* Switch to vegetables, fruits, and other low-calorie foods and beverages to replace calorie-dense foods and beverages such as French fries, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream, doughnuts and other sweets, and regular sodas.
* When you eat away from home, choose food low in calories, fat, and sugar, and avoid large portion sizes.
*Eat 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
* Include vegetables and fruits at every meal and for snacks.
* Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits each day.
* Limit French fries, snack chips, and other fried vegetable products.
* Choose 100% juice if you drink vegetable or fruit juices.
*Choose whole grains over processed (refined) grains and sugars.
* Choose whole grain rice, bread, pasta, and cereals.
* Limit intake of refined carbohydrates (starches), such as pastries, sweetened cereals, and other high-sugar foods.
*Limit intake of processed meats and red meats.
* Choose fish, poultry, or beans instead of beef, pork, and lamb.
* When you eat meat, choose lean cuts and eat smaller portions.
* Prepare meat by baking, broiling, or poaching, rather than by frying or charbroiling.