Photo: Blueberries

by Manjari Fergusson

With summer nearing its end, many of us will be heading back to school or coming back from a vacation – it’s a time that presents the perfect opportunity to adopt a healthier diet. Over 1.5 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society. That staggering number can be alarming, especially as obesity continues to be a huge problem for Americans.

Along with controlling your weight and being more active, eating a plant-based diet is one of the most important steps you can take that may help reduce your risk of cancer or other life-threatening diseases.

Here are some tips for tasty ways to plant-ify your meals:

  • Add a handful of blueberries, raspberries or blackberries to your cereal, even if they’re frozen. Bonus if you have whole grain oatmeal!
  • Try another healthy breakfast alternative: a smoothie. Throw in some fresh veggies like kale or spinach; almond butter and almond milk are good additions, along with smoothie staples like fresh apple bananas and fruit juice. Try adding dates for extra sweetness.
  • Snack on fresh or dried fruit instead of reaching for those potato chips; try adding a handful of nuts too.
  • Choose whole grain, high-fiber bread as opposed to those made with refined flour. Look for words like "whole grain”, "stone ground", "whole wheat flour", and "whole oat/rye flour".
  • Do the same for pasta; try to only eat whole grain pasta instead of regular white pasta.
  • Hummus! Hummus is spectacular paired with raw veggies like carrots, cucumber or celery; as a sandwich spread, with tomato and sprouts; or with (whole wheat) pita chips as a dip. Try making your own with bell pepper and herbs. Look for hummus at Down to Earth for different varieties.
  • Add different greens to your salad, such as kale, chard, collard greens, arugula or any other leafy greens for more variety. Arugula, especially, has an unusual, tasty bite that will make your salad more flavorful.
  • Try to eat organic as much as possible. This is a good way to know that your food is not loaded with harmful pesticides and artificial chemicals normally found in conventional produce and prepared foods. And it's the best way to aviod genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  • When buying fruit or vegetable juice at the store, go for 100% juice.
  • Remember the color wheel when eating: you want to eat greens, reds, yellows, orange and white everyday if possible! The more variety the better.
  • Try to plan your meals around fresh vegetables that are currently in season, whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat, legumes such lentils, and a variety of fresh fruits.
  • Replace your burger patty with a portobello mushroom.
  • If you do end up eating foods such as French fries, chips, donuts or other typically “unhealthy” foods, exercise portion control! Try to cut them out completely; your body doesn’t need all those calories that don’t have much nutrition in return.

Adopting a healthy diet doesn’t have to be difficult and it doesn’t mean you can’t eat any of your favorite foods anymore. Hopefully, you’ll find that you enjoy your new way of eating even better!

Footnotes: 
  1. American Cancer Society. Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the Cancer Connection? Retrieved August 07, 2012, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diet-physical-activity/diet-...