How to Get Cancer - Part I

We all know someone who has cancer. And maybe even someone that has died from cancer.

If it seems like cancer is everywhere that’s because it is. Roughly 15 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide each year.

While cancer treatment has improved tremendously in the last decade, still there is no absolute cure. You probably already knew that.

But did you know one third of cancer could be avoided by changing lifestyle and diet habits?


That’s right. What I just said is cancer is preventable in many cases. Really and truly.

Because I would prefer to prevent cancer, I’ve done the research and incorporated the evidence into my life. And today I’m starting a cancer prevention series just for you. Over the next few weeks I will lay out the evidence and offer simple and sustainable ways for you to make lifestyle changes to prevent cancer.

I’m always shocked when people I work with don’t realize that some cancers can be prevented. Knowledge is power and cancer prevention is one of my passions. If you have a friend, family member, or other loved one that you want to help, please refer them here.

Each week, I will offer you one or two action-oriented methods to prevent cancer and the evidence to back it up. In return, you will use the next week to take action and make changes.

Without further adieu, let’s dive in and get started!

How to Get Cancer: Eat Ultra-Processed Food

processed foods.jpeg

It should come as no surprise that processed foods are bad news. We know they are linked to obesity, increase blood pressure, and heart failure exacerbations.

Now we know consumption of processed foods increases the risk of cancer.

A little over a month ago, a study was published that assessed the association between ultra-processed food and cancer. This study include over 100,000 participants that were followed for six years. The results were startling.

A 10% increase in ultra-processed food intake was associated wth greater than 10% increase risk in overall cancer and breast cancer.

Why? First of all, processed foods are high in total fat, saturated fat, added sugar and salt. Secondly, processed foods contain contaminants that are carcinogenic (such as acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Third, processed foods often are packaged in materials that are carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting (such as bisphenol A). Lastly, processed foods often contain nitrites, which are hypothesized to be carcinogens.

Which foods were considered to be ultra-processed this the study?

  • Mass produced packaged breads and buns
  • Sweet and savory packaged sweets
  • Mass produced confectionery and desserts
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages
  • Meat products with preservatives other than salt (such as meatballs, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks)
  • Instant noodles and soups
  • Frozen or shelf stable meals
  • Food products made mostly from sugar, oils, fats, and processed oils

Action of the Week: Ditch Ultra-Processed Foods. Immediately, If Not Sooner.

What does this study mean for you? It means that if you want to decrease your risk of cancer (overall and breast), you must decrease your consumption of ultra-processed foods.

So take an inventory. Do you eat any of the ultra-processed foods mentioned above? If so, say sayonara to them. Instead, replace the ultra-processed foods with organic vegetables and fruit. Drink water, sparkling water, or tea instead of sodas and sweetened beverages.

Give it a try this week! And stay tuned for more on the cancer prevention series!

In health and happiness,


do you want a cooking-free way to make your food more satisfying, tasty, & filling?

Who wants to eat less while feeling just as satisfied?

And who wants their food to taste better and be more satisfying?

Unless you are a masochist, my guess is you answered “Me!”

What if I could share a way for you to do this that did not require any cooking?

There is one simple, real, and freeing way to do this. Get ready . . .

Eat mindfully.

Americans often approach eating like a visit to a gas station. You try to find the cheapest option, quickly refuel while multi-tasking (talking on the phone, checking your email, washing your windows), and zip away to your next task. The process fulfills its purpose (refueling), but does not provide enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction.

Think about your eating. Is itdone quickly, while watching television, while working at your desk, in the car, or while walking? Do you view eating as a quick refueling or task on your agenda?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you could use an eating makeover.

There is now a term when you consume food when it is not your primary focus. It is called “secondary eating” and Americans spend more time as Secondary Eaters than they do as Primary Eaters (i.e., less meals and more eating on the go or in front of the television). While we think we are gaining time andconvenience with secondary eating, we are actually losing.

When we eat without it being our primary focus:
    •    Our brains are less able to enjoy our food
    •    We lose the ability to fully taste and appreciate different flavors
    •    We have more difficulty telling when we are full

Truly I understand you lead busy and hectic lives. Being as efficient as possible is hardwired in many brains (especially mine).

But eating is not where our time saving should come from.

The average American spends 34 hours a week watching television. That’s just less than 5 hours a day. With the rise of mobile devices (hello iPhones and iPads), people are finding more time. In fact, five hours a day is the estimate. And somehow we don’t “have” time to eat or exercise.

Eating in front of the television or while working is tempting (even for me). But ask yourself, what can you gain by consciously eating?

You can more fully enjoy your meal, better understand when you are full, and likely eat less. All while feeling more satisfied. If I were selling a pill that did those things, I would be a millionaire.

Make eating a savor worthy experience.

To help combat the temptation of eating in front of the television, I offer you some suggestions.

1. Eat with others (family, friends, co-workers).

It’s more fun and the conversation will be stimulating. Plus studies show eating with others is linked to lower body weight.

2. Set the table.

Clear off your table if it has become your mail filing system, work space, or anything other than eating space. Put out your dinnerware and flatware.

3. Add some flowers.

Studies show food tastes better when there are flowers on the table. Plus, it makes eating feel special (as it should). Maybe even light a candle or two if you’re feeling crazy.

4. Enjoy each bite.

Chew your food and enjoy the texture, flavors, and smells you are experiencing.

5. Savor the moment.

Appreciate that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you were meant to do. Be present. Enjoy where you are.

From Information to Action

This post has been on my mind since the inception of A Better Way Wellness. With fall around the corner and holidays on the horizon, the time to share is right.

I challenge you, savor eating today.

Make your next meal a special and enjoyable experience. Savor and appreciate where you are.

In health & happiness,

How to Have a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

The holiday season is upon us and in the last week, I’ve received dozens of worried queries on how to handle Thanksgiving.

I sense a lot of stress, anxiety, and anticipated guilt with the upcoming holidays.

Questions like:

What should I eat?
What should I NOT eat?
Should I eat pie?

have flooded my inbox.

And for good reason. As a society, we often associate food with shame and guilt.

And that breaks my heart. (Especially because I used to feel that way.)

Because food is a beautiful thing —it provides nourishment, pleasure, and community. It sparks conversation and discussion. Inspires creativity. Food is an integral part of our communal culture.

Somewhere many of us have gotten mixed up with food. It’s become less of a pleasure and more of an anxiety. More shameful and less pleasurable.

But starting today and with the Thanksgiving holiday, you can change your relationship with food. You can relish in the pleasures of food and ditch the guilt.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving with a large meal, like many Americans, I have some tips to help you enjoy the holiday. Without the regret, guilt, and remorse.

Because you can enjoy a meal without feeling bad. And you should!

Here are 5 ways to have a guilt-free Thanksgiving.

1. Celebrate your Thanksgiving on a single day at a single meal.

Sit, enjoy, and relish your meal. Fill your plate with foods you truly love. And savor each and every bite.

And then the next morning, get yourself back on track. And the night before Thanksgiving? Eat as you normally would — fill up on vegetables and other nutrient dense foods.

Thanksgiving doesn’t give you a week, month, or season’s long excuse to overindulge.

Enjoy the day (sans guilt) and then get back to business!

2. Fill your plate ONLY with foods you love.

If your mouth waters thinking of fluffy mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, go for it! And slowly chew and relish every single bite. Are you ambivalent toward stuffing or suspicious looking jello salad? Skip it!

Eat what you love, and pass on the rest.

3. Say no thank you to leftovers

Unless you are taking home a veggie plate, green salad, or fruit, politely decline on the leftovers. Because the next day you should be getting back on track. And let’s be honest, potatoes and stuffing never taste as good the next day. Plus you will enjoy your Thanksgiving meal MORE if you know you’re only having it once.

4. Break a sweat!

Break a sweat before the feast. Go for a run or brisk walk. Play soccer, football, or basketball with family. Sign up for an exercise class. Find something you love and commit to it. Your mind and body will thank you.

5. Take a deep breath and lose the guilt.

Gently close your eyes and take a few deeps breaths. On your inhalation, breathe in celebration. On your exhalation, breathe out any guilt or anxiety you feel.

Seriously. Give this a try.

There was a study that compared reactions to images of food between Americans and French(wo)men.  Americans were shown a picture of chocolate cake and the first word that crossed their minds was “guilt.” The French were shown the same image and the word that came to mind was “celebration.”

Thanksgiving is a time where I say we embrace our inner French. Celebrate and enjoy. Without the guilt.

If guilty and anxious thoughts are crossing your mind with Thanksgiving, please try one (or ALL) of these tips. Because food is a beautiful thing. And you deserve to enjoy.

Wishing you a wonderful (and guilt-free) Thanksgiving,

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