Spring Clean your Cancer Nutrition Routine

Written by Lori Bumbaco, MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, Oncology Dietitian

Just like spring cleaning our home, now is the time for a reminder that we can also do the same with our food choices. As the days become longer and the weather becomes warmer, it is a good opportunity to refresh our approach to eating. Taking the time to clean out and restock our pantry with options will give us a chance to eat in a way that serves us well. Soon enough, we will be welcoming the fresh fruits and vegetables that easily provide an abundance of nutrients and flavor.   

There are a few simple steps to take if you feel ready to spring clean food routine.  Start with organizing the kitchen, next stock it with essentials and special cancer fighters, and finish with dedication to maintain your new mindful kitchen. 

1. When organizing our kitchen, a great approach is to dedicate time to each section in our kitchen. Maybe we can start with the pantry or the spice rack or even the freezer.  Think about tossing items that are expired or “questionable” while donating those that you realize you will not be using. We can then create an inventory of what is left and fill the void with nourishing essentials. We can also use this time as a chance to replace some foods with healthier versions.   

Preparation is a crucial part of planning to eat healthy. We can set the stage for success by having access to some of the most nutritious foods on hand. 

Some of the versatile pantry staples include: 

    • Oats, soba noodles, bean pastas, whole wheat pasta 
    • Wild rice, quinoa, farro, wheat berries, buckwheat 
    • Dried beans and lentils, canned beans 
    • Boxed broth  
    • Nuts and seed 
    • Canned tomatoes, tomato paste 
    • Dried herbs, spices, cooking oils, vinegars, soy sauce or tamari, fish sauce 
    • Canned tuna, sardines, salmon 

Some of the versatile perishable items include: 

    • 2-3 different colored fruits and vegetables for the week 
    • Frozen edamame, tofu, tempeh 
    • Frozen vegetables and fruits 
    • Milk or milk alternatives 
    • Greek yogurt, cottage cheese 
    • Whole eggs 
    • Poultry, fish, shellfish

2.  After we’ve restocked our kitchen, we can then take the next step towards maximizing the cancer fighters in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Color is one easy way to obtain a variety of nutrients.  Eating a rainbow of colors from red tomatoes to orange citrus fruits to yellow pineapple to green asparagus to blue berries and purple beets gives our plate the bright color it needs.  Even white fruits and vegetables, such as cauliflower, mushrooms, and parsnips provide a hefty dose of cancer fighters.  

3. The final step is to create a kitchen and pantry that allows for sustainable change.  We might want to consider dedicating time each week to or each month to check how our nourishing space is holding up.  Do we need to toss the items we no longer use?  How about our staple foods, do we need to replenish from our list?  Remember that over time, some new choices might appear.  The warmer weather gives us an abundance of new fruits and vegetables to enjoy.  We can include new spaces to dedicate for storing our deliciously fresh finds at the farmer’s market or our own garden.  If you are curious to learn more about how best to keep produce stored to minimize food waste, consider visiting this website:  https://www.epa.gov/recycle/preventing-wasted-food-home  

 A few simple steps can be an important way for us to reset and give ourselves the gift of nutritional wellness to support both our mind and body.