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VCU Massey: New American Plate diet can help reduce risk of cancer

Posted at 11:04 AM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 17:16:05-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The latest scientific research indicates that what you put on your plate can help reduce your risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends what they call The New American Plate. It encourages you to focus on sensible portion sizes and a plate that is no more than one-third animal protein with the remaining two-thirds filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

Allie Farley is a registered dietitian with VCU's Massey Cancer Center. She uses research-based advice for cancer patients. Farley said there's a direct link between being overweight and your risk of getting cancer.

"Research has found that being overweight or obese can increase one's risk for 12 different types of cancer with postmenopausal breast cancer being one of those 12," said Farley.

That's why she's a believer in the "New American Plate."

"And the New American Plate is a plant-based diet that puts the research for reducing cancer risk into action. It can be a plant focus diet with plant foods only or can include moderate amounts of animal-based foods," said Farley.

She admits this is very different from how Americans are used to eating. In this plan meat becomes a side dish with the focus on vegetables and whole grains. Farley recommends making changes gradually when you approach these recommendations.

Breast cancer survivor Kerry Ayers says her diagnosis made her feel like there was very little she was able to control so she turned her focus to changing her diet.

"I knew I needed to eat more vegetables like when I really looked at my diet. I wasn't eating that great. Like, I thought it was healthy but really, I wasn't," said Ayers.

She also incorporated regular exercise and meditation into her lifestyle along with traditional cancer treatment.

"Your you need to take a traditional treatment path which I understand, but I, my, my counterbalance to that is it's not going to hurt. And so, it was something I could control," she explained.

Kerry Ayers says now that she is out of treatment it's a lot easier to focus on her diet.

She uses ready to make meal boxes that focus on plant-based proteins to supplement her cooking. And she says while she is eating better overall, she's not too hard on herself.

"I still like a few French fries, but I also, I just know every time I eat them kind of what's going on and that that's taking the place of other more nutritious food that is helping me further fight this battle. Then I've got to keep my eye on the prize," said Ayers.

You can read more of Allie's tips here.

Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation is hosting a free webinar talking about The New American Plate with Allie Farley on Thursday, October 15 at 4pm. You can register here.