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Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Good nutrition - what is it?

With all the fad diets and crazy ads hitting you from all sides it is sometimes hard to know what good nutrition is. Lots of people want that "quick fix" and fall for anything that promises you a slimmer waist with no effort. That isn't going to happen.

Good nutrition is a way of life, not an overnight solution. It is sensible living that involves a balance of exercise and diet and plain old common sense.

A good indication that a diet may be a fad is when a diet tells you that any one part of the food pyramid is "BAD."

Carbohydrates for instance. Are they as "bad" as you keep hearing? Consider this - It is recommended that somewhere between 40 to 60% of our total calories come from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates, (or starches), and naturally occurring sugars rather than processed or refined sugars.


The American Heart Association doesn't recommend high-protein diets for weight loss. Many Americans follow "popular" diets. Most of these diets aren't balanced in terms of the essential nutrients our bodies need. Some are high protein and emphasize foods like meat, eggs and cheese, which are rich in protein and saturated fat. Some restrict important carbohydrates such as cereals, grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. If followed for a long time, they can result in potential health problems. And while they may result in quick weight loss, they have not been proven effective for long-term weight loss.

These diets can cause a quick drop in weight because eliminating carbohydrates causes a loss of body fluids. Lowering carbohydrate intake also prevents the body from completely burning fat. In the diets that are also high in protein, substances called ketones are formed and released into the bloodstream, a condition called ketosis. It makes dieting easier because it lowers appetite and may cause nausea. You can read more about this at their website under high protein diets.

Some people will argue that:
"Excessive carbohydrates can cause an increase in the total caloric intake, causing obesity." Sure, but notice the word EXCESSIVE there.

But - on the other hand:
"Deficient carbohydrates can cause a lack of calories, (malnutrition), or excessive intake of fats to make up the calories."

What should this tell you? To eat a balanced diet. The human body was designed to use more than one "fuel source." You don't have to do without the things you love. You can find a middle ground and work with it. And that's not as hard as you may think.

Eating moderately and choosing more foods that are better at providing you with balanced nutrition instead of being one-sided are a good start. Proper exercise is important, too.

High-sugar foods are simple carbohydrates that provide calories, but minimal nutritional benefits. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates provide calories, vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Therefore, it is wise to limit - but not necessarily cut out - processed and refined sugars.

To increase complex carbohydrates:

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat more whole grains, rice, breads and cereals.
  • Eat more beans, lentils, and dried peas.

Low Carb Diet - Suuuuuuuure!

The primary function of carbohydrates is to provide energy for the body, especially the brain and the nervous system. The body breaks down starches and sugars into a substance called glucose, which is used for energy by the body.

I don't know about you but I can use all the "brain energy" I can get!

So - Carbohydrates aren't as bad as a lot of people think. It depends more on what choices you make. You can find GREAT sources of good carbs at your Farmers' Market. Fresh fruits and veggies will provide you with great taste AND nutrition!



The National Cancer Institute's 5 A Day for Better Health Program

A 1991 National Cancer Institute and Produce for Better Health Foundation survey, found that the average American consumer eats only about three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Forty-two percent eat less than two servings a day.

The 5 A Day for Better Health Program is a national program designed to encourage all Americans to eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day to promote better health. Branches of the U.S. Armed Forces also have 5 A Day Coordinators who promote 5 A Day to service personnel and their families.

Studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Academy of Sciences The Food Pyramid would look pretty funny without the Vegetable and Fruit Groups! suggest that the nutritional goodness of fruits and vegetables, with a diet that is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol and that contains plenty of whole-grain breads and cereals, may decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer.

A major reason to eat more fruits and vegetables is their nutritiousness. Unless baked in a pie or dripping in butter, most are low in fat and calories--except avocados, coconut and olives, all of which contain fat naturally.

Many are excellent sources of the important vitamins A and C and provide ample fiber. In addition, many fruits and vegetables, particularly dried beans and peas, are significant sources of folate, a B vitamin that can help reduce the risk of certain serious and common birth defects.

What is a "serving?"

A serving of fruits and vegetables is:

  • 1 medium fruit or 1/2 cup small or cut-up fruit
  • 3/4 cup 100% fruit juice
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, apricots)
  • 1/2 cup raw or cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup raw leafy vegetables (such as lettuce, spinach, kale)
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas (kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils)

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