Nutrition during the holidays

The holiday season can fill up the stomach with delicious treats, hearty meals and expedient amounts of seasonal goodies. However, if you are on a nutritious diet plan, eating right during the holidays has to be a mission. For certain groups of people, it's a necessity to eat a healthy meal. For example, cancer patients currently in treatment and survivors can't overindulge during the holiday season, because cakes and sweets provide little nutrition. Caregivers need to pay close attention as well in order to enable and support their loved ones during the holiday season, when certain foods are more tempting than others. The following are some good and bad foods for nutritional eating this season.

The Good Stuff

1. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables are highly nutritious for everyone, but especially for those with cancer because they contain phytonutrients. These types of vegetables are even better for breast cancer patients or those concerned about breast cancer because they help produce healthy estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, broccoli rabe, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale.

2. Dark Green, Leaf Veggies
These types of vegetables have a plethora of vitamins and taste delicious in holiday dishes. These include spinach and kale.

3. Ginger
Some sweets are okay for cancer patients, but make sure you eat the right kinds of cookies. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties, which help quell side effects from cancer treatment like chemotherapy. Ginger ale or ginger supplements are best for helping with these side effects.

4. Candy Canes
Peppermint hard candies and peppermint tea relieve dry mouth but also help with nausea. Some studies have shown that the oil in peppermint can reduce spasms in the esophagus. This can help with dehydration among many other side effects that cancer patients face.

5. Protein-Rich
Eggs, beans and legumes are great to eat for cancer patients because they contain protein. These kinds of foods help immune systems, improving the healing process and cell repair. They also contain vitamin B, which helps with energy and skin.

6. Fatty Fish
According to studies by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarker and Prevention, women who ate fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids lowered their cancer risk but also decreased inflammation in cancer patients. Any holiday dishes with pollock, yellowtail, mahi mahi or salmon are great for this diet.

The Bad Stuff

1. Red Meat
When grilled, red meat creates something called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which drive cancers. Red meat also contains amino acids that stimulate oxidation and insulin, both of which also produce cancer risk. Studies showed that women who ate well done meat three times a week increased their breast cancer risk by 400 percent. While turkey may be okay, stay away from steak and burgers this holiday season.

2. Processed Meats
Cured hams are off the diet plan this holiday. Unfortunately, research has shown that compounds in processed meats like bacon, ham, hot dogs and deli meats increase the chance of cancer-compounds in the body.

3. Vegetable Oils
You should take steps to prepare dishes without vegetable oils, including soybean, safflower, sunflower and corn, because they are high in polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to increase oxidation in the body. Instead, cook and eat only foods made with extra virgin olive oil or canola oil.

4. Sweets
Many sweets contain preservatives, lots of sugar, and refined carbohydrates. These are dangerous for cancer patients on a regular basis. Once in a while, a sweet can be a treat, but cancer patients or those at risk should not indulge too much.