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Jim’s challenge: Eat healthy protein, less red meat

Focused on Health - May 2013

by Adelina Espat

Take on this challenge in the Healthy Bites series. Jim Power did it. And, so can you!

“Give me a rule, and I will follow it,” says Jim Power, a 57-year-old Navy veteran.

challenge jimJim has always been very active. But his years in the navy have resulted in injuries that have forced him to slow down. As he’s gotten older, his metabolism has slowed down as well, causing him to gain weight.

“When I first learned about Healthy Bites, I thought ‘This is a health program for me,’” Jim says. “I’m very competitive, so I like the idea of a challenge. Plus, I knew that having specific ‘food rules’ would motivate me to make the health change I need.”

Eat less red meat

“Before starting Healthy Bites, Jim was eating red meat two to three times a week,” says Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at MD Anderson and the Healthy Bites challenge coach. “I challenged Jim to cut back because eating too much red meat, like pork, beef and lamb, can increase colon cancer risk.”

“I was eating about 12 oz. of red meat at each meal,” Jim says. That adds up to about 36 oz. of red meat in one week.

protein mary ellen“To keep his cancer risk low, I advised Jim to try to limit the amount of red meat he eats to 18 oz. or less each week,” Mary Ellen says.

READ ALSO: Not sure what 18 oz. looks like? Get our red meat guide.

Jim takes the challenge

“Because my wife and I share cooking duties at home, we decided to take the red meat challenge together,” Jim says.

“We’ve got five athletic young adults to feed. They need a lot of protein to keep them going,” Jim says. “So, we knew we’d have to get creative with this challenge. But, there was no doubt in my mind that we could do it.”

Jim’s first step was working with his wife to create a weekly menu for the challenge.

READ ALSO: 4 protein swap tips for better nutrition

What worked for Jim

“Once we started the challenge, we really didn’t miss eating less red meat,” Jim says. “Right now we’re eating red meat approximately three days per week and no more than 18 oz. as Mary Ellen suggested.”

eat proteinJim offers this advice:

  • Eat more fish and chicken: “We started to include more turkey, chicken, tuna and salmon in our meals. Now, it’s just expected that fish and chicken will be on our menu twice a week.”
  • Add dairy as a protein: “It’s okay to skip meat altogether. You can get your protein from other foods, like cheese. For example, we’d eat tomato soup and cheese sandwiches for a meal.”
  • Try plant proteins: “For at least one meal each week, we’d get our protein from plants, like beans. We’d have a bean burrito night.”

“Healthy Bites was simple to start and easy to follow,” Jim says. “My wife and I have completed almost all the challenges except one – the sodium challenge. It’s next on our list!”

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