For many survivors, living a healthy lifestyle may lower the risk of recurrence and improve survival rate. Studies have not shown that healthy behaviors alone impact cancer survival, but they may help protect against other chronic diseases and cancers. Following are guidelines, tools and booklets to help you work with your healthcare team to make healthy lifestyle choices. These choices include aiming for a healthy weight, eating healthy whole foods, getting regular exercise, keeping up with your immunizations, and not smoking.
Some insurance companies are now offering online health monitoring tools to help make it easier for their members to meet their personal health goals and develop a healthier lifestyle. Participating in these plans may not only help you set and achieve your goals, but they may lower your insurance premiums or qualify you for other benefits, including the services of a Healthy Lifestyle Coach. It may be beneficial to ask if that is a benefit available to you.
Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity
The American Cancer Society (ACS) gathered a group of experts in nutrition, physical activity, and cancer survivorship to look at the scientific evidence and best practices related to optimal nutrition and physical activity after the diagnosis of cancer. This is a summary of their findings. These guidelines are written to provide healthcare providers with the best possible information with which to help cancer survivors. This is the simplified “ACS Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines – Patient Page.”
The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) has collaborated with Meals to Heal and the LIVESTRONG Foundation to produce this free, printable PDF resource. Adapted in part from AICR’s CancerResource and other sources, Heal Well (PDF) is a booklet that offers overall guidance to help you eat healthfully throughout and beyond your treatment. Making changes to your eating habits, living an active lifestyle, and aiming for a healthy body weight can help prevent cancer and lower the risk of some cancers returning. Please visit with your physician or a registered dietician if you need help mapping out your exercise or nutrition goals.
Ms. Katz shares the love of whole healthy foods through her recipes, blog, and her book “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen.” Her experience with cancer comes from cooking for her father while he was going through treatment. She works for Healing Kitchens at Commonweal, a program dedicated to training doctors and wellness professionals how to add cooking into the role of health and healing.
Gathered Table is a healthy meal planning program that recommends the best recipes to match your food preferences. It is fee-based, but touts that meal planning will help you eat healthier homemade foods and less processed foods. They also state that you will save money and time worrying about what’s for dinner, as they will provide a grocery list to get everything you need with one visit to the market. Rebecca Katz contributes to the recipes on this website. There is a video on the website explaining how Gathered Table works.
Michael Greger, MD is a licensed general practitioner, an author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition. He is a founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and a specialist in clinical nutrition. This website provides short videos on the latest in nutrition research. The goal of Nutrition Facts is to “present you and your doctor with the results of the latest in peer-reviewed nutrition and health research” in an understandable way.
EWG is a great site to find clean products to eat, including fish with safer levels of contaminants and safer products to use on your skin and in your home. They created the 2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™ and the Shopper’s Guide to All 48 Fruits and Vegetables with Pesticide Residue Data.
Nutrition & Exercise
Cancer.Net’s booklet can empower you to talk with your health care team about setting goals for losing weight and to find resources to help you reach those goals. The booklets is available in English, French and Spanish.
These are recommendations for maintaining a healthy lifestyle for people who have experienced a breast cancer diagnosis. The discussion includes nutrition, exercise, lymphedema, and weight management.
Studies have shown that lifestyle – especially nutrition and exercise – can have a significant influence in cancer prevention and treatment. This guide was created by The Prostate Cancer Foundation to present information for men who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle that promotes prostate health.
Tools & Calculators
Research has proven that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 chronic diseases. Exercise is Medicine developed this Public Action Guide to help you discuss using exercise as “medicine” with your healthcare provider, and Exercising with Cancer as a guide to help begin an exercise program. They have also partnered with the American College of Sports medicine to provide an Exercise Time Finder, allowing you to fill in your typical week and look for blocks of time where exercise is an option.
The AICR has compiled a group of tools you can use to help you to implement proper nutrition and exercise, understand what your risks are, and to make necessary changes to meet your healthy lifestyle goals. This includes healthy recipes, a nutrition hotline, BMI calculator, and “The New American Plate.” This is an excellent site that gives up-to-date science-based research related to the choices we can make to decrease our cancer risk.
Making healthy choices such as keeping a healthy weight, eating well, and including exercise and activity in your life helps to keep cancer risk down. This link includes fitness tools and calculators such as finding your target heart rate, your body mass index (BMI), and tips for sun safety and tobacco cessation.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created this BMI Calculator as a useful measure of obesity, calculated from your weight and height. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk is for several chronic diseases, including certain cancers.
SuperTracker offers a variety of interactive tools to support individuals in making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating well and beginning a fitness program. SuperTracker includes “ChooseMyPlate.gov” where you can get a personalized meal plan based on your caloric needs. It also has the Body Weight Planner, which helps develop a plan to reach weight management goals within a timeline. The tools are free and allow registered users to tailor their exercise needs to personal weight-management goals.
Join others through Live by Living Walks & Hikes, CancerFit, or for some restorative yoga. When we exercise with others it isn’t just exercise, it’s a social event that keeps us from feeling isolated. Others come to expect to see you and you may look forward to seeing them.