The Plunkett's, like most Americans, have been impacted by cancer on all sides of our family and, it seems, even some of our friends. After learning that one of our young friends might have cancer we started the discussion about cancer prevention in our home (which is where it starts). The one health book we own is, "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living," by Rex Russell. I love this book. It is my go to book on biblically living. The main principle in this book is eat food closest to the way God intended. That means stay away from processed foods. My personal research landed me at my local library checking out three books on cancer prevention.
The Cancer Prevention Good Health Diet by Martin Katahn
Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber
Food for Life by Richard Bohannon
When I got home I remembered a friend from high school that I recently caught up with on Facebook. This friend of mine is soon to be a guru on things chronic disease (she's in the process of getting her PhD at the University of Arkansas). She is very passionate about the topic so I couldn't wait to get her opinion and suggestions.
"The closer the food was grown to you, the better. And that's the bottom line. If you're able to grow your own, then, of course that's the best. The only foods that I personally buy are cheese blocks, meats, beans, and crackers, for the most part. I eat everything else from my garden, eggs from my chickens, and make my own bread. Processed foods are SUCH bad news."
Her book suggestions were:
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food Rules by Michael Pollan (He gives really amazing advice on how to shop for food and also explains exactly what and why you're trying to avoid when shopping.)
The Nutrition Bible by Anderson & Deskins
"...all the health books are pretty much going to tell you the same thing: eat right, sleep well, and exercise. Period. People understand the sleep well and exercise part, but the eating right is sometimes hard to grasp in our Western world full of fast and processed foods. So, just know that growing your own veg is the best, buying the foods grown closest to you is second best, and thirdly, stay away from stuff that you can't pronounce or have never heard of on the ingredients list. Those long-word things are the preservatives and "processing" parts. I'm not one to tout "Organic Only," by any means, but natural is the way to go. It doesn't have to be organic, so don't get fooled into that money trap of a market."
What about when you need to eat out (traveling, meeting, etc)?
"The only thing I can say for healthy options on the go is that there are ALWAYS healthier options when you're dining out or forced to eat fast food. Wendy's has been shown to be a heart healthy fast food option for many years now. And Jason's Deli is pretty good stuff too; they also use local foods. Try to steer clear of places that don't have a bigger refrigeration section than their freezer. This means that a majority of their foods are processed and not fresh. Sonic is the first place that comes to mind with this, for some reason. As much as I love their drinks, they lack almost all nutrition on their menu. Some other quick rules of thumb for fast food that are almost always stead fast but not 100% are: Chicken over beef, almost always (by the way, chicken nuggets are a stay-away item in most fast food places). Greens over potatoes, always. Fast food over gas station, always (unless you've got a gourmet gas station down there)."
What does all this mean for the Plunkett's? It's a work in progress. Will I eat at Chic-Fil-A? Without a doubt, I can say yes! Will I eat there every day? No. Also, as I read through these books I will fill you in on some of things I learn. I will also keep you posted on how I do this within our budget because sadly, when you buy natural products they seem to be more expensive even if they are better for you in the long run. If you are interesting in reading more about what the Plunkett's think about health feel free to read my February posts when I discussed heart health almost every day.