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Clean Eating Staples for Your Fridge

When stocking your fridge, you need to think about where you are with your cancer treatment and what you can handle. Are you struggling to eat, experiencing decreased appetite, or losing weight? If so, your shopping list should include high-calorie items that can help you get through these effects.

Because the items stored in the refrigerator and freezer are perishables, you need to be mindful about their use-by dates. You also don’t want to overdo it with items that have a more limited lifespan, like dairy products, produce, and meats. You need to plan your meals out as best you can and then shop accordingly.

Following is a list of items you can feel good about stocking in your fridge and freezer. Most likely, you’re already buying many of these items.

1

Symptom alleviators

These include items like puddings, custards, sorbets, gelatin snacks, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and popsicles. Try to find versions with the best nutritional stats. Although these foods won’t win any awards in the nutrition department, they can help you get through your treatment.

Also, some sorbets and fruit pops are made with 100 percent fruit, so they’re guilt-free. And, if you have some energy, you can make your own fruit gelatin, which is almost like Jell-O but made with agar, a type of seaweed.

2

Cheeses, cottage cheese, and ricotta cheese

Cheese is a good source of calories and protein. Look for low-fat versions when available. To prevent any foodborne illnesses, avoid any raw milk cheeses, cheeses with mold (such as blue cheese, Roquefort, and stilton), or cheeses with dried vegetables (like pepper jack).

Preferably plain, low-fat cottage cheese with no fruit added to reduce sugar content. You can add your own fruit for a more wholesome treat.

3

Condiments

May include items like mustard, ketchup (try to buy reduced-sugar or reduced-sodium versions), salsa, soy sauce (buy low-sodium varieties), and hummus, all of which need to be refrigerated upon opening. When deciding between condiments, read labels to find the ones with the best nutrition profile.

4

Eggs

Try to find eggs from free-range chickens. Some studies have indicated that these eggs may be more nutritious than commercially produced eggs. If you can afford to spend a little extra, consider buying omega-3 eggs, which are from chickens fed a higher omega-3 diet.

5

Fish and seafood

Buy fish that are known to be lower in mercury, such as light tuna (often canned) and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program has resources to help you make informed choices when it comes to fish and seafood.

6

Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables

If frozen, make sure no sugar or salt has been added. Some good cancer-fighting fruits to consider include apples, avocados, bananas, berries, kiwis, oranges, and papayas. Some good cancer-fighting vegetables include carrots, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale), leafy greens, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

7

Fresh herbs

Because these generally last for only a few days, you should only buy them shortly before you need them.

8

Fruit and vegetable juices

Buy varieties that have no added sugar. Check the ingredients list to see if sugar is listed, and if buying cranberry juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice and not “cranberry juice cocktail,” which contains only a small amount of juice.

9

Lean meats and poultry

Ideally, beef should be from grass-fed cattle and poultry from free-range chickens. Other good options include bison, ostrich, pork, and turkey.

10

Milk, soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk

Buy plain, low-fat varieties, not flavored versions. With regard to cow’s milk, look for hormone-free brands. This is indicated by a label that says “rBST- and rBGH-free.” Don’t drink raw milk — the risk of contracting a foodborne illness is too high.

11

Sour cream, yogurt, or kefir

Buy low-fat versions of sour cream. Buy plain and unsweetened varieties of yogurt or kefir. You can add your own flavorings. Many different types of yogurt are on the market, including Greek, skyr (Icelandic), and non-dairy varieties, such as those made from coconut milk or soy milk. Just make sure you choose one that says “contains live and active cultures” on its packaging.

 
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