What is a ‘good’ food choice? by Marion Foreman, former cancer nurse and chair of the patient group, 

As I write this we are a few days off Christmas.  A time when most people will eat much more than they usually do and exercise less.

Don’t worry – I’m not going to suggest cutting down at this time (although a general awareness of the whole idea that you might have had enough to eat, wouldn’t go amiss!) but I do want to give some thought to the New Year and healthy choices. 

We all know the basics don’t we?  If you take in more calories than you burn off then you will put on weight?

Yes, that’s true – but it’s not simple.  We all have a Basal Metabolic Rate  (BMR) – that’s the rate that we burn calories just by being alive – so if you laid about all day and did very little – you would still burn calories.  This rate varies according to many factors – your weight and your age being two of them.  Yes – as you get older your metabolic rate slows down.  Obviously, therefore, an older person needs fewer calories than a younger person.  There are ways that you can boost your metabolic rate – mostly by building muscle – but that’s a different blog!

So you can calculate your BMR (easily done through a Google search) and find out how many calories you need a day, then calculate your calorie burn with exercise – add the two together – and that’s what you need to maintain your weight.  Eat fewer calories and you might lose weight – eat more and you will gain weight. 

What we are looking at here is what type of calories you eat.  You could (please don’t try this at home) – get all your calories from dipping into the Quality Street tin.  It would play havoc with your blood sugar, your insulin levels, your energy levels and your sleep.  Alternatively you could eat a balance of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, porridge etc) fats (butter, some cheese) and protein (eggs, chicken, fish) and feel loads better and don’t forget the fruit and veg.

Why am I saying all this?  Because getting treatment for cancer is hard work and your body needs all the care, love and nourishment you can give it.  So have a chocolate but have the good stuff too!  Stay away from processed food and eat as much fresh food as you can.  Your body will thank you for it.



A Blog about food - by Marion Foreman, former cancer nurse and chair of the patient group, 

"We’re not talking about our weight – just about our food – what we consume on a daily basis. We are bombarded with all sorts of adverts for all sorts of treats and delicious sounding foods. Over the years we have become very familiar with consuming lots of ‘goodies’ that, basically, don’t help us to keep fit and well.

If we skip through a typical day – let’s start with breakfast – how many of us actually have a healthy breakfast? So much of what we have are simple carbohydrates that cause a massive rise in our blood sugar and a huge spike of insulin to deal with it (then a big drop in blood sugar – setting the tone for the whole day). What we need is something to ‘sustain us’ – so complex carbs that take time to break down. Think of Weetabix, Shredded Wheat (not the sugar coated ones!) and whole meal, seeded, granary bread. Maybe an egg or two on that toast? These sorts of food take much longer to cause a gentle rise in blood sugar and don’t put a great strain on your pancreas to produce loads of insulin (therefore reducing the risk of getting type 2 diabetes)

Don’t forget to drink plenty (2 litres ) of water a day – our body’s need to keep hydrated.

Are you a snacker? Lockdown has given us constant access to our kitchens and the fridge – all too easy to ‘just have’ – something else. Aim to snack on fruit and veg – no – not easy when what you want is a bag of crisps or a biscuit– but don’t forget – we are doing this to keep healthy.

Lunch can be another challenge in a sort of ‘grab and go’ way. Perhaps a sandwich or a baguette (hopefully not if we have already had bread at breakfast) or some sort of ‘ready meal’? Highly processed foods are not the best things to have – fresh is always best. Try going for a salad with cottage cheese and a ryvita. Or sugar-free peanut butter and an apple. Make a batch of vegetable soup (I do it with that odd assortment of veg that accumulate in the bottom drawer at the end of the week and add some curry powder – nicer than it sounds I can assure you). Finish with plain yoghurt and fruit. Avoid the yoghurts that have fruit added (if you wonder why – check out the sugar content – we are aiming for less than 5gms sugar in every 100gms)

Dinner (I am assuming this is your main meal ) is a great opportunity for a piece of fish or a chicken portion with lots of lovely fresh veg. If you fancy some rice or pasta go for brown (you know why! - yes – it’s a complex carb) and if you want potatoes then sweet potatoes are a great choice.

Healthy eating might take some getting used to – avoiding the takeaways and the chippie – but give it a try – I can almost guarantee that you will feel better for it and it will help you to manage your weight."