My dad has always been a strong and important part of my life, and a year and a half ago he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. As a family we were devastated, and writing about it still gets me teary-eyed even though he has been in remission for almost a year.
Sometimes the best gifts that we can give our dads are hugs and kind words of appreciation. As a registered dietitian, it can be hard for me to hold back when I see my dad eating in an unhealthy way — we'd all like to see our dads live forever, and I am often torn between letting him enjoy what he's eating and reminding him of healthier choices.
Father’s Day can be a time of reflection on our families, our work life and how we fuel our bodies. Taking advantage of the aspects of nutrition that are valid and evidence-based can help our dads, husbands and sons live a long and healthy life.
To this end, I have written a letter to all respective dads, to be shared among loved ones:
Dear Dad (grandfathers, husbands and future dads),
Dad's stand for strength, assurance and kindness. It takes a great man to stand up to a huge responsibility and become a father who passes on his wisdom, skills and advice. Keep your body in the best shape it can be with these 10 healthy tips:
1. Eat lycopene-rich foods. An amazing phytochemical found in abundance in tomatoes, watermelon and papaya that has been shown to be a potential prostate cancer reducer. Include red-colored fruits and vegetables to increase your intake of this nutrient-packed phytochemical.
2. Also eat avocados. Great for inflammation and chockful of monounsaturated fatty acids (the good type of fats) as well as being a potential cholesterol and diabetes reducer.
3. Choose lean protein sources. Only eat red meat or beef one time per week and make it lean cuts like loin and round. Eat chicken without the skin and try to eat fish at least once a week. Consider going meatless one day a week, incorporating beans, nuts and soy products as the main meal item.
4. If you drink alcohol switch to red wine for the benefits of resveratrol. In moderation, red wine has shown to be potentially heart-healthy.
5. Don't forget to eat breakfast and regular meals throughout the day. Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day and will balance your mood, concentration and endurance all day long.
6. Keep moving for at least 60 minutes per day. Exercise is great stress relief and good for all aspects of your body.
7. Sleep for at least eight hours per night.
8. When you grill, consider marinating meat in a mixture of oil, vinegar and spices, including onions and garlic, to help minimize the carcinogens that may occur during the grilling process.
9. Watch your salt intake. Choose spices and herbs to season your food.
10. Remember you are a huge role model for the entire family — what you do they will likely copy.
Happy Father’s Day! This year and to many more!