Preventing weight gain for breast cancer patients

Preventing weight gain for breast cancer patients

I was on Fox 19 earlier with my buddy Kara Sewell talking about foods to include in your diet during treatment and recovery.  The foods are great for anyone trying to “manage their waist”.

Start your day with whole oats and eggs.  Oats are high in soluble fiber, which reduces appetite.  Eggs are an eggscellent source of protein, which regulates blood sugar and satiety.

Add avocado to your sandwich or salad.  The MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids) reduce appetite and this type of fat is also heart healthy.  Include high protein or Greek-style yogurt for probiotics and protein.  Probiotics are important during cancer treatment to recolonize your gut and strengthen immunity.  Protein in yogurt has been found to improve satiety.

Finally, eats beans or lentils at least 3 times/week.  They’re a source of both fiber and protein and keep calories in check because they’re fat free.  Season with garlic, onions, ginger, tomatoes, peppers or a variety of spices.

Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries, Almonds and Yogurt Dressing

Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries, Almonds and Yogurt Dressing

This delicious recipe is loaded with cancer fighting nutrients including vitamin C, beta-carotene and fiber. The yogurt dressing adds a boost of protein as well as calcium with a light, tangy taste. Pecans can be substituted for almonds and dried blueberries, raisins or apricots could be used in place of cranberries. Enjoy!

¼ cup sliced raw almonds
1 (12 oz) package of broccoli slaw (Manns or Kroger brand)
½ cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. honey (or agave nectar)
3 Tbsp. plain, Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. In a small, non-stick frying pan, toast the almonds over medium heat shaking the pan frequently until they start to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add broccoli slaw and cranberries.
3. Combine remaining dressing ingredients in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. Whisk together until the dressing is smooth and emulsified.
4. Pour dressing over broccoli slaw and mix. Add cooled almonds and stir to combine.
5. Chill for at least 30 minutes to 4 hrs before serving.

Makes 4 servings. Nutrition facts per serving: 117 calories, 7 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams protein, 1.5 grams fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 124 mg sodium.

Overweight but fit still at risk

Overweight but fit still at risk

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that “metabolically healthy obese”- a subset of obese individuals, who were initially thought to not be at high risk of heart and other chronic disease, still might be.


Study author Kristine Faerch from the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen states that while it was once thought that it was not unhealthy to be overweight or obese if you lived a healthy lifestyle, research suggests differently.  Overweight and obese individuals face an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  To lower risk, keeping a healthy weight throughout the lifecycle is vital. 1


Faerch and her researchers evaluated data in over 6200 men and women that joined a Danish study where they were tracked for over 10 years.  The subjects’ initial BMIs and 4 risk factors for heart disease including HDL (“healthy” cholesterol), high blood pressure, triglycerides and blood glucose were monitored.  “Metabolically healthy” subjects had none of these risks, while “metabolically unhealthy” were defined as having at least one risk factor.  In the follow up period, 323 subjects developed heart disease.  Men who were metabolically healthy, but obese, had 3 x the risk of heart disease versus metabolically healthy men with normal weight.  Women that were metabolically healthy but obese had double the risk.  Overweight men that were metabolically healthy had equivalent risk as their normal weight counterparts.  Overweight women at the outset had a slightly higher risk than normal weight subjects.  The authors note that only 3% of male and female subjects were obese, but considered metabolically healthy.  Over a 5-year period, 40% of those considered metabolically healthy because metabolically unhealthy. 1


Joshua Bell from the UK’s University of Bristol is not surprised.  He and his colleagues published a paper in February nothing that obesity increases age-related disability and decline, even in metabolically healthy individuals.  His research found that after 2 decades, physical ability declined two times more while pain increased 6 times more in obese individuals compared to normal weight individuals. He stresses that heart disease is not the only risk factor to consider in healthy aging. 2


Matthias Schulze at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbruecke, who did not participate in either study, believes other measurements such as waist-hip ratio, waist circumference and body fat could be looked at to determine “metabolically healthy” obese. 3 Healthy and obese can change to unhealthy and obese very quickly.  More research is needed to find how to decrease disease risk in both groups.



1.Louise Hansen, MSc, Marie K Netterstrøm, MSc, Nanna B Johansen, MD, PhD, Pernille F Rønn, MSc, Dorte Vistisen, MSc, PhD, Lise LN Husemoen, MSc, PhD, Marit E Jørgensen, MD, PhD, Naja H Rod, MSc, PhD, DMSc, Kristine Færch, MSc, PhD. Metabolically healthy obesity and ischemic heart disease: a 10-year follow-up of the Inter99 study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab jc.2016-3346.  Published March 7, 2017.


2.  J A Bell1,2, S Sabia1,3, A Singh-Manoux1,3, M Hamer4 and M Kivimäki1, Healthy obesity and risk of accelerated functional decline and disability.  International Journal of Obesity advance online publication 14 March 2017; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.51


3.Kristin Mühlenbruch, Tonia Ludwig, Charlotte Jeppesen, Hans-Georg Joost, Wolfgang Rathmann, Christine Meisinger, Annette Peters, Heiner Boeing, Barbara Thorand, Matthias B. Schulze.  Update of the German Diabetes Risk Score and external validation in the German MONICA/KORA study. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.  June 2014 Volume 104, Issue 3, Pages 459–466

Fast, not fat, food

Fast, not fat, food

As a busy professional, it is tempting to hit the drive through on those days when you may be in your car more than at your desk.  But think about what you’re eating-lots of salt, fat, refined flour and calories.  For most people, it may be too salty, too greasy or too stale to enjoy.  And when you think about it, eating fast food daily could put a dent in your wallet.


However, like everyone’s busy schedule, you may find yourself having to either miss lunch, or eat it in your car.  Though I don’t typically advocate eating and driving, I realize it’s a reality for many people.  If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, here are a few quick “meals” you can make ahead and eat on the road.


  1. Turkey and cheese roll up. Take 2 slices of lean deli turkey and place it on a small, fajita sized whole wheat tortilla.  Spread a thin layer of horseradish sauce over the turkey.  Sprinkle shredded, 2% milk cheddar cheese on this layer.  Roll up and pack in a bag.  Pack 10-15 baby carrots and ½ cup green grapes in a bag to go with it.  And don’t forget a bottle of water!
  2. Peanut butter on whole wheat. Spread 2 Tbsp. natural peanut butter on whole wheat bread and top the peanut butter with another slice of bread.  Enjoy an apple and some celery sticks on the side.
  3. String cheese and Triscuits. Just like it says- pack 2 low fat Mozzarella string cheese sticks and 12 Triscuits in a bag.  Pack 1 cup of baby carrots and cleaned/dried blueberries to pop in your mouth at the red light.
  4. Hummus & veggies in a pita. Pack ½ of a whole wheat pita with 2 Tbsp. of your favorite hummus.  Add a chopped cucumber and spinach leaves between to the pocket.  Pack 10-15 grape tomatoes to go with it and a bottle of water.
  5. Nutty trail mix. Mix ¾ cup Cheerios, ¼ cup almonds, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup sunflower seeds and ¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries in a bag or reusable plastic container.  Grab a 4-6 oz. Greek yogurt and a spoon and run for your car!
Bananas and beyond

Bananas and beyond

Ask anyone to name a source of potassium and inevitably, they’ll say “bananas”.  But ask why we need potassium, and few can answer the question.  Potassium is a mineral that’s not only found in bananas, but also citrus fruit, green leafy vegetables, yogurt, beans, whole grains and sweet potatoes.  Researchers suggest getting more potassium in our diets as it’s been found to lower blood pressure, regardless of sodium intake.


Dr. Alicia McDonough, a professor of cell and neurobiology at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) evaluated the diets of several populations and found that higher potassium intakes were associated with lower blood pressure, no matter what the sodium intake was. Her review included a combination of interventional and molecular studies evaluating the effects of dietary potassium and sodium on high blood pressure in various populations.  Kidneys get rid of more salt and water when dietary potassium intake is high.  Dr. McDonough likens high potassium intake to taking a diuretic, or water pill.


Unfortunately, a typical American diet tends to be higher in processed foods, which tend to be high in salt content and low in potassium.  One of the most cost effective strategies to reduce blood pressure is to cut back on salt.  Improved consumer education regarding salt, changes in processed food and reduced consumption of high sodium foods should be implemented.


Finland and the UK were first to start salt reduction programs.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europeans consume an average of 7-18 grams per day, which is far above the suggested limit of 6 grams per day.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggested that adults consume 4.7 grams of potassium daily to reduce blood pressure, reduce the impact of high sodium intake and slash the risk of bone loss and kidney disease.  Dr. McDonough notes that consuming just ¾ cups of dried beans daily can help individuals reach half of their potassium goal.  Here are more ways to obtain more potassium:


  • Eat an orange or banana daily
  • Include green leafy vegetables daily such as broccoli, spinach or kale
  • Snack on unsalted nuts
  • Add an avocado to your salad or sandwich
  • Choose dark orange fruits and vegetables such as melon and sweet potatoes
  • Enjoy kiwi, mango or papaya



Alicia A. McDonough, Luciana C. Veiras, Claire A. Guevara, Donna L. Ralph, Cardiovascular benefits associated with higher dietary K vs. lower dietary Na evidence from population and mechanistic studies.  American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. Apr 4, 2017, E348-E356

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