Healthy New Year: Tips from Minnesota Oncology’s Nutrition Therapy Team

by Minnesota Oncology’s nutrition therapy team: Heidi Ganzer, MS, RD, CSO, LD; Dianne Piepenburg, MS, RD, CSO, LD; and Tracie Swearingen, RD, CSO, LD

A brand new year brings with it New Year’s resolutions!  Year after year, the number one resolution is weight management (attempting to lose weight).  Even if you are not one to make resolutions but would like to manage your weight, here are some tips and tricks to help meet your weight goals.

Start with realistic goals.  Even a 5-10% weight loss or a 10-20 pound weight loss can result in improved blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar control.  Setting a goal to lose 50 or 100 pounds often sets one up to fail.  Weight loss expectations should be no more than one to two pounds/week.

Keep a food journal or use an online tool to be accountable for how many calories are really being consumed. Writing down food, time, amount eaten, speed, activity while eating, hunger, fullness, emotions, enjoyment factor, etc. is very helpful. This increases your awareness about what you are eating (mindful eating…more about that later!)  Online tools that work well are My Fitness Pal, Spark People, and Fit Day.

Stay physically active. If you are not generally active start out slowly. You don’t want to get hurt (or frustrated). Anything above and beyond your normal is an improvement if you are usually not active. Work up to at least 30 minutes/day, which can be done in 10 minute increments throughout the day. Weight lifting or resistance training builds lean muscle that burns calories more efficiently!

Eat breakfast. This kick starts the metabolism for the day. Enjoy foods that contain of a combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat (Greek yogurt is a nice option) as this maintains satiety (the feeling of being full) longer.

Shop wisely. Never, ever go grocery shopping on an empty stomach! Always have a plan and a list. Always look at the food labels. What is the correct portion size?

Choose vegetables. These are great cancer fighting foods, high in fiber and low in calorie (the non-starchy variety). Veggies are almost free foods! Make raw vegetables convenient, chop a large amount on the weekend and bag them up so you can grab and go!

Experiment with a new food or recipe. Try a new fruit, vegetable or a recipe weekly (expand those food horizons). Utilize recipes online that may make your planned meals at home more exciting and include more variety in your diet.

Plan ahead. Always have a plan. Know what you are going to be eating for at least the next one to two days. Not having a plan may lead to poorer food choices (often more calorie laden). Great websites that can help with menu planning are American Institute for Cancer Research, Epicurious, The Scramble (fee for subscription but all items are 30 minutes or less), and Once a Month Mom.

Drink water. Don’t drink your calories (regular soda, sweet coffee drinks, alcohol, etc.). Not drinking enough water can slow your metabolism.

Use plates and bowls. Don’t eat directly from the container or bag as it is very easy to over eat; use more mindful eating.

Eat slowly. It takes the brain 20 minutes to signal that the stomach is full. Enjoy your food. Don’t finish the meal without tasting it!

Avoid fried foods and sauces (order on the side if eating out). Cream or white sauces are clues that the food may contain more calories!

Practice the principles of mindful eating: 

Allow yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food selection and preparation by respecting your own inner wisdom.

Use all of your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.

Acknowledge responses to food (likes and dislikes or perhaps neutral) without judgment.

Become aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decisions to begin and end eating (if you are hungry eat, if you aren’t don’t!)

If you are trying to lose weight, Minnesota Oncology has a wonderful service available for patients.  The ReeVue metabolic test will help determine your total energy expenditure based on your actual resting energy expenditure (how many calories you are burning if you are sitting in a chair all day) and your height/weight, gender and age.  The test also is able to indicate if your metabolism is slow, normal or fast as compared to expected norms.  The test provides a range of calories that you can eat and still lose weight!  If you are interested talk to a member of your nutrition therapy team.

Here are some ways you can eat more (150 calories):

Instead of 1 can of regular soda pop or 16 potato chips you can eat the following healthier options!

25 stalks of celery       2 cans of green beans (no added salt variety!)

4 ½ green peppers        1 ½ heads of Romaine lettuce

3 + cucumbers             An entire head of cauliflower (wow)

3 cups of spinach        1 medium/large baked potato

1 ½ cans of beets

This information is provided by Minnesota Oncology’s nutrition therapy team. Minnesota Oncology’s dietitians are available to meet with patients to assess your individual needs and create a plan for you. Please talk with your care team if you would like to schedule an appointment.


  1. RD411—Tips for Weight Management. Website available at
  2. The Principles of Mindful Eating. Website available at
  3. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Website available at




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