Posts filed under ‘Nutrition’

Guest Post: Physical Activity Benefts During and After Cancer Treatment

Amy’s Note:  I was contacted about the following guest post by David Haas, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger.  Davis is a cancer patient advocate for the Alliance, and he writes and researches for the betterment of cancer patients around the United States.  I have had many friends and family members who have fought their own cancer battles.  It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  Welcome, David.  

Physical Activity Benefits During and After Cancer Treatment
David Haas, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger

When facing cancer treatment, or working towards keeping your cancer in remission, your priorities in life often change. This includes a new or more focused emphasis on a lifestyle that will help maintain your health, and give a better chance at beating this devastating disease. While there are many lifestyle changes that can be made, research continues to show promise in exercise, both for those getting ready for cancer treatment or going through cancer treatment, as well as for cancer survivors in remission. While the amount and types of exercise may be limited depending on the types of treatments and the severity of your cancer diagnosis, exercise can be used in most forms of cancer, ranging from breast cancer recovery to mesothelioma treatment.

One of the primary benefits of exercising during or after cancer treatment is managing treatment side effects by maintaining and building strength. Building physical strength can increase endurance during treatments, as well as can help you rebuild strength after treatments that have left you largely inactive due to side effects of treatments like chemotherapy. Bone and muscles loss are both common during cancer treatments, exercising combats these effects, helping reduce fatigue and leaving you more independent. Exercise also helps you maintain mobility and flexibility in the major joints of your body, which can be impacted by longer periods of bed rest.

Exercise has also been shown to help improve your mood during and after cancer treatments. When you exercise, your body naturally releases “feel good” chemicals, such as certain neurotransmitters and endorphins. These chemicals naturally boost your mood, and can help fight off cancer-related anxiety or depression. Exercise also can help take your mind off of your diagnosis, providing a healthy outlet for coping and reducing feelings of frustration or hopelessness.

The benefits of exercise are increasingly showing that not only can exercise help manage side effects, but it can also help prevent cancer from returning. Consistently, research has shown that those who take part in exercise after treatment live longer and have less recurrences, suggests Kerry Courneya, PhD, from the University of Alberta. Part of this benefit is due to the greater weight control experienced by cancer survivors who regularly exercise, decreasing risks for obesity.  

While exercise can play an important role in your cancer treatment and recovery, keep in mind that rest is also important. Work with your doctor or treatment team to develop an exercise routine that is appropriate for your individual situation. This will help prevent any negative impacts on your treatment or recovery that can occur with over-exercising before your body is ready.


February 6, 2012 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

The system is broken.

Dear First Lady Michelle Obama,

I appreciate your focus and efforts towards reducing childhood obesity.  Really, I do.  Your Let’s Move program is a much-needed initiative in the land of couch potatoes and Big Gulps.  Teaching our children about nutrition and fitness is a worthwhile undertaking and I am all for it.

However, if you’re really trying to make a difference in the way our children eat – the way our entire society eats – then there’s something we should be talking about.  Here’s my main concern:

There is something wrong when nutritious, whole foods are so much more expensive than over-processed, packaged junk.

Someone should be examining the marketing and pricing strategies employed by the major food producers and retailers in this country.  It is unacceptable that processed, man-made, mass-produced foods are cheaper than fresh foods.

I’m not even talking organic produce and meat here.  This is about regular ol’ apples and oranges and chicken and ground turkey.  This is about natural ingredients like steel-cut oats and long-grain rice.   I want to be able to feed my family foods that look more like their natural state, yet when grocery shopping I must also consider the best distribution of dollars.  When the price of basics such as milk is constantly increasing, I must make concessions elsewhere in my budget, and that means turning to processed foods like instant oatmeal and packaged rice, two great examples of items that are a) cheaper to begin with and b) much cheaper than their whole-food counterparts when manufacturers flood the market with coupons to incent us to buy.

I am just your middle-class, middle-America suburban housewife with a family of four to feed.  We live within our means, yet I am constantly struggling to make our budget work every month and feeding my family is a huge chunk of that budget.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for a family who is closer to poverty level, and the state of the economy has more and more families finding themselves slipping closer to that line.

Perhaps it is time to provide incentive to our grocers to make a much more concerted effort to buy local, enabling the retailer to sell at a lower price.  Let’s encourage shoppers to buy seasonally.  Yes, I know here in Kansas it would be more difficult to get some of the produce and things that are currently available.  But perhaps it would give us all the nudge we need to buy what’s freshest.

Listen, I know that I ultimately have control over what goes in my mouth and my kids’ mouths.  And I have control over how much activity all of us get.  However, if we are going to control the obesity epidemic that has threatened our society, than ALL OF US have to work together to reverse the trend.  An alarming number of Americans are being diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease.  An incredible number (myself included) of us are overweight; a startling number can be classified as obese.  This is truly an epidemic that needs to be stopped now.

Best of luck to you.  You’re fighting an uphill battle.  But if all the MOMS got together to fight for this, we’d make a difference.

UPDATE: Following my rant on this last night, my friend Prairie sent me this link.  It appears that Wal-Mart has teamed up with the Let’s Move program (under First Lady Obama’s direction) to provide healthy foods at affordable prices.  I loathe Wal-Mart, but I have to commend their acknowledgement of this problem.  Click here to read the article about Wal-Mart’s new focus on making healthy food affordable.

February 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm 2 comments

Picky, picky, picky people

Every family has a child that won’t eat. My little brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years. ~Ralphie, A Christmas Story

Meal times are a battle in my house.

Alissa, my three-year-old, is an incredibly picky eater. She won’t eat hamburger. She thinks cheese is a major food group. Alissa only likes chicken if it’s followed by the phrase “and fries” and comes from the Wendy’s across the street from our church. Green vegetables? Limited to celery, but only because the Wonder Pets eat it. She has about ten foods she likes on heavy rotation, and God bless the mother (me) who tries to introduce her to new ones.

As a result, we have tried a variety of methods to get her to eat more variety. Make her stay in her seat until she eats what I deem an acceptable amount. Take a no-thank-you bite. Reverse psychology. Mostly, I end up caving and giving things out that I know she’ll eat.

I know she’s not going to starve. After all, she’s in the 75th percentile for weight in her age group; she’s obviously not withering away for lack of food. But her goal is to live on Cheez-its and animal crackers; my goal is to get her to eat a mostly nutritional diet.

I’ve been doing some reading about getting picky eaters to – well – eat. And here are the top 5 tips I’ve found:
  • Hors d’oeuvres, anyone? Little kids are snackers. I thought this was just a genetic tendency handed down to Alissa from my husband, who never met a snack he didn’t like. Turns out most kids are like this. And kids love cute names. So serve up apple moons, broccoli trees, carrot swords, and cheese building blocks.
  • Dip it, spread it, top it. Serve veggies with ranch dressing. Top apples and crackers with peanut or almond butter. Use cream cheese, guacamole, tomato sauce, or applesauce to top a variety of foods. Bonus points if you let your child spread it. Which leads us to:
  • Let the child help prepare the menu. Odds are that your child will be more likely to eat what they helped make. Toddlers can stir things together or pour liquids into a recipe. Preschoolers can help “chop” softer vegetables with a small crinkle cutter, which is safe for little hands. Get them involved and they’ll take pride in eating what they make.
  • Make healthy snacks accessible and reachable. Alissa is much more likely to snack on an apple or yogurt if she can get it out of the refrigerator herself. Not only does it foster independence for her, but it relieves me of a daily task! (And face it, you’ve got enough tasks on your list already.) Put healthy choices down low, where kids can easily get to them.
  • Remember – they don’t eat as much as we do. When I started really looking at Alissa’s portion sizes, I realized I was giving her too much to eat. Thing is, kids have tiny tummies and they generally know when they’ve had enough. I could take a few cues from my child on how to only eat as much as I need.

Most importantly, relax. For all of us – even kids – it’s about moderation. Take a cue from Sesame Street and teach kids about “every day foods” (fruits, veggies) and “sometime” foods (sweets, processed stuff, sugary drinks). Helping them to make good choices now will help them make lasting benefits far into the future.


July 18, 2010 at 11:45 am Leave a comment

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