A great way to add variety and really get the most out of the fruit and vegetables you eat, is to opt for seasonal vegetables when they’re available.
We are very lucky that, as a result of importation, most fruit and vegetables are available all year round. But you can’t deny that there’s nothing better than a British strawberry from June to September. (That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid other fruit and veg that isn’t necessarily in season).
Ultimately, the goal is to eat a rainbow. Eat as many different colours of fruit and vegetables as possible to get the widest variety of nutrients.
Apple (especially Bramleys), banana, beetroot, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, clementine, dates, grapefruit (not suitable if you take warfarin or certain statins), Jerusalem artichoke, kale, leeks, lemon, onion, oranges, Pak Choi, parsnip, pear, pomegranate, purple sprouting broccoli, radicchio, rhubarb, salsify, spring onion, swede, sweet potato, turnip.
There are a couple of new crumble recipes in the recipe section to help you really make the most of fruit and veg this winter!
There is some evidence that certain foods may slow down the growth of prostate cancer or reduce the risk of it returning after treatment. At the moment this evidence is limited and we need more research to show clearly how different foods can help.
As with exercise, by eating healthily you can take more control of your health. A healthy diet combined with physical activity can help you to maintain a healthy body weight, benefit your general health and reduce your risk of medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and other cancers.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
A Spanish study a few years ago showed that by switching to a Mediterranean diet – eating plenty of fruit and veg, not so much cake and avoiding processed foods – people were able to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke by almost 25 per cent.
So the evidence is there in black and white: switching to a Mediterranean diet can make a huge difference. It’s not about calorie counting or making life miserable, just about eating good food in sensible quantities and enjoying the buying, preparing and eating of good food on a daily basis.
Why does what you eat matter?
Obesity and sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass and strength) are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Put simply, if you are overweight and/or your muscles are not as strong as they perhaps used to be, you will probably be at increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Raised blood sugar, fat and cholesterol levels are also risk factors.
The good news is that the kind of food we eat and our eating patterns can have a huge effect on all of these factors. It makes sense that what we eat will affect our health in either a good or a bad way. It also makes sense that if you consume a certain amount of calories (energy from food) and then do enough exercise to use up that same amount of calories, your weight will remain stable. On the other hand, eat more than you need and your body will adapt accordingly, laying down fat reserves to be used in times of starvation. The problem is, we don’t often have times of starvation!
Why does when you eat matter?
There’s truth in the old saying ‘Breakfast like a King, lunch like a Prince, dine like a pauper’. If you eat late at night, not long before you go to bed, your body struggles to process the food you’ve eaten and so lays it down as fat reserves.
This would be fine if you were then going to fast for a few days and would need to rely on these reserves. But the vast majority of us have plenty to eat every day so these fat reserves, laid down overnight, tend to pile up.
The food pyramid is a good guide to this way of eating. There are no hard and fast rules – just go easy on the foods at the top of the pyramid and eat those at the base more freely.
Make fruit, vegetables and salad your main food along with grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals which you need to maintain a healthy heart. They contain lots of fibre which aids digestion and keeps you feeling full, and are also often low in calories. Feel free to eat all varieties including canned, frozen or dried if you find that easier.
Click on the image to enlarge
For maximum nutritional benefits, try to get as much variety as possible. Aim to ‘eat a rainbow’ – include as many different-coloured fruit and vegetables as possible – because variety of colour also means variety of nutrients.
When it comes to protein, focus on fish and seafood which – as well as being naturally low in fat – are the best sources of omega-3. Eat them at least twice a week for a healthy heart.
Like the people pictured at the base of the food pyramid, make food a sociable and enjoyable part of your life. Get together with family and friends to prepare and eat food, and find fun ways of using up the energy you’ve gained from your food.
Get familiar with the food pyramid, let it become your new way of life and it will reward you with a healthier heart.
So you probably have a general idea about which foods are healthiest for you, but how much of them should you eat? It’s really important to get your portion sizes right because eating too much or too little can result in an imbalanced diet and unnecessary weight gain or loss. The portion size chart below is a useful guide to healthy portion sizes for lots of different foods and shows how much of each type of food you should be eating every day.
Since your prostate cancer diagnosis, you may lack muscle strength and therefore need to add in extra protein. This – in combination with regular exercise – helps build stronger muscles. Or you may be very strong but a little overweight, putting an extra strain on your heart as you exercise. In this case you may just need to focus on eating smaller portions than you’re used to while sticking to the general guidelines of Mediterranean-style eating.
The portion chart is generalised and should be tweaked to suit your own needs. For instance, if you are aiming to lose some weight then you should try to have fewer portions of starchy foods each day. If you have lost some of your strength since being diagnosed with prostate cancer then try include more portions of fruit and veg each day and aim to include at least one portion of protein with each meal.
Your BMI, waist to hip ratio, and waist circumference will have been measured at your baseline assessment and combined with your baseline strength levels and your age to identify which of the four dietary groups below you belong to:
Group 1 – eating to improve health
Group 2 – eating to improve health and lose weight
Group 1 plus – eating to improve health and get stronger
Group 2 plus – eating to improve health, lose weight and get stronger
The guidance for portion sizes varies a little depending on which dietary group you’re in. Remember to follow the advice given at your baseline assessment and use the portion chart to make sure you’re eating the right quantities of the right foods.
Each of the items listed in the table below is a single portion:
Fruit and vegetables
Foods high protein
Foods high in fat, salt or sugar
|Aim to eat 5 to 8 portions every day
|4 to 5 portions of fruit AND 4-5 portions of veg every day)
|Up to 6 portions every day
|2 to 3 portions every day||These are likely to be added in cooking and you should have no more than 4 portions a day|
1 slice of bread
Half a bread roll, bagel or English muffin
Half a pitta
1 plain naan breadCrackers/biscuits
3 small crackers
2 small oat cakes
1 plain biscuitCereals
3 tablespoons of
breakfast cereal or
2 egg-sized potatoes
1 medium plantainRice/pasta Products
2 heaped tablespoons
of boiled rice or 3 of
Half a fruit or plain
1 scotch pancake
1 slice of malt loaf
1 bowl of plain popcorn
One apple or pear
2 or 3 plums, apricots or clementines
1 handful of grapes
Half a grapefruit
One slice of melon one banana
A handful of
3 tablespoons of tinned
fruit in juice
Small glass fruit juice
1 tablespoon of raisins,
3 dried apricots or
3 tablespoons of
mixed cooked veg
2 spears of broccoli
8 florets of cauliflower
1 large parsnip
3 tablespoons diced
swede, 14 button
1 side salad (cereal
1 medium tomato
(or 7 cherry tomatoes)
3 celery sticks, 2
A piece of cooked,
lean beef, pork, lamb,
mince, chicken or
turkey the size of
a pack of cards
(If you’re buying raw meat or poultry for a recipe, 1 portion is about 100g)
2 slices of lean cold
100g of oily fish,
150g of cooked white
150g of tinned tuna
in brine or spring water (check the weight on
the side of the tin)Beans
Half a tin of baked
4 tablespoon cooked
peas, beans, lentils
or dhal, 120g of soya,
tofu or Quorn
200ml milk (a third
of a pint)
1 small pot (125g)
of low-fat/diet yogurt
or fromage fraisCheese
1 small matchbox sized piece of cheddar or other
2 small matchboxes
of low-fat soft cheese
3 matchboxes of
cottage cheeseSpreadable fats
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon nut buttersOils
1 teaspoon of oil
1 teaspoon double
2 teaspoons single
or soured cream or
half-fat crème fraiche
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon nut buttersOils
1 teaspoon of oil
or gheeTable sauces
1 teaspoon of
2 teaspoons of reduced
fat spread or reduced
2 teaspoons of salad cream, reduced-fat
mayonnaise or low-fat dressingOther
1 teaspoon tahini
How many calories are there in alcohol?
What’s the equivalent in food/calories?
What would I have to do to burn this off?
|1 pint of beer (2.3 units)||1 slice of pizza (197kcal)||18 mins running|
|125ml glass of champagne (1 unit)||1 chocolate digestive (86 kcal)||9 mins running|
|250ml glass of red wine (2 units)||Slice of sponge cake (195 kcal)||25 mins running|
|1 pint cider (2.6 units)||1 doughnut (210 kcal)||22 mins running|
|25ml dark spirit, eg rum or brandy (1 unit)||Yorkshire pudding (60 kcal)||6 mins running|
Make it work for you
• Food is an important and enjoyable part of everyday life and it’s important to remember this if you decide to make changes to your diet. Any changes you make need to be sustainable.
• Don’t worry about the occasional treat, but try to make sensible choices in your day-to-day life.
• Try to cut down on unhealthy foods, such as those high in sugar or saturated fat. Check the labels on packaged foods for the calorie, fat, salt and sugar content and don’t forget some drinks are high in sugar.
• Get support and seek advice if you are finding it difficult. There are lots of resources available for helping you to eat healthily (see below)