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Mediterranean diets and taking small steps toward a healthier you

Mediterranean diet
Many components of the Mediterranean Diet fall in line with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) guidelines, which recommend limiting processed foods, red meat and alcohol, and working toward a healthy weight, especially if you are overweight or obese. Therefore, it is important to start implementing healthy lifestyle choices, no matter where you are in life’s journey.

In May, a study was released suggesting that women who follow a Mediterranean diet may reduce their risk of uterine cancer. While further research is necessary, the study is consistent with other reports and strengthens the data supporting the overall benefits of a well-balanced diet.

In fact, many components of the Mediterranean Diet fall in line with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) guidelines, which recommend limiting processed foods, red meat and alcohol, and working toward a healthy weight, especially if you are overweight or obese.  Therefore, it is important to start implementing healthy lifestyle choices, no matter where you are in life’s journey.

Changing your eating and exercise habits can sometimes be tricky. With today’s proliferation of fast-food burgers and fries on seemingly every corner, we need to practice discipline and can start by making one healthy choice at a time. Without making over your diet completely, you can still reap the benefits of even just a few small dietary changes. For example, choosing air-popped popcorn instead of chips or eating strawberries dipped in Greek yogurt and sprinkled with cinnamon instead of ice cream are two minor tweaks you can make.

These lower-calorie options would meet the criteria for the AICR guidelines and also provide your body with more nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. Other examples include substituting lean ground turkey for ground beef in stuffed peppers and tacos. During the summer months, you can enjoy a quick, easy side dish by grilling vegetables with spices and herbs in aluminum foil. My favorite is red potatoes with red onions, green peppers, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon garlic powder. The best part? No dishes and minimal cleanup.

As for physical activity, research shows that excess body fat, especially to the point of obesity, increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage cancer growth. Therefore, lifestyle changes should include both diet and physical activity. One way to implement those modifications into your lifestyle is to set realistic goals, such as walking 20 minutes a day, then increase the time or intensity when the exercise becomes easy.

With the proper mindset, we can make healthier choices each and every day, and that includes trying out the Mediterranean Diet. Start small and work your way up. You can do it!

Learn why good nutrition is especially important in the fight against cancer.