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Food Tips from a Dietitian’s Plate

Focused on Health - April 2012

by Adelina Espat

Food and cancer is always a popular topic amongst our readers. And, that’s good because your food choices can impact your chances for cancer.

food mealsNo one knows that better than MD Anderson dietitians. So, what are they eating to stay cancer-free?

We chatted with Clare McKindley, a clinical dietitian at MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center, to find out what’s on her plate.

How many meals do you usually eat a day?

I can’t go without at least three meals a day! And, with my activity level — climbing, personal training workouts, walking the dog and recreational soccer games on Sundays — I benefit from three meals a day plus snacks.

Before I eat, I look at the food in front of me to make sure I’m getting the right balance. I’ll ask myself, “Where’s the protein? Where’s the carbohydrate? And, where’s the fat in this meal or snack?”

What’s your go-to snack?

I actually keep a lot of quick snacks handy. My faves are:

  • Fruit or vegetables with string cheese
  • Nuts and dried fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Boiled eggs
  • Carrots
  • Bell peppers

snack foodHow do you get your fill of fruits and vegetables each day?

Right now, my favorite go-to snack is pre-sliced carrots, cucumbers and/or bell peppers. After my rock climbing sessions, my buddies and I go to a taco place. I take along my pre-sliced vegetables so I’m sure to have a veggie option.

Plus, by keeping my veggies handy, I’m not compelled to eat a bunch of chips. Then, once I’ve eaten all of the veggies from my bag, I use the bag to take home my second taco. I actually get excited about taking the taco home and enjoying it the next day!

How do you make sure you get enough whole grains in your diet?

Granola bars always help me get my grains. I love cereal with at least 4 grams of dietary fiber per serving. I also enjoy egg salad on whole grain crackers.

What healthy food(s) would we see stocked in your pantry?

I don’t think of the foods I eat as healthy or unhealthy. Instead, I classify them based on my level of mindful or compulsive patterns.

For example, if I am prone to compulsively eat a food, then I don’t give myself permission to keep that food in my cupboard. If I can control my behavior around that food, then I give myself permission to have that food on hand.

What’s the one piece of nutrition advice you always find yourself giving patients?

Remain mindful. How confident do you feel in the food choice you are making? What is your goal?

You always have choices. And, remain aware of your options. Think about what’s realistic and supports your nutrition goals. It’s up to you to listen to your body and hear what it needs. And, always make your body a priority.

Do you have a nutrition related question for Clare? Post it on our Facebook page and we’ll get an answer for you.

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© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center