Lifestyle and Nutrition Recommendations (The James)

Lifestyle and Nutrition Recommendations

  • Do not use tobacco in any form.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important ways to protect against cancer. It is best to avoid becoming overweight, but limiting any weight gain during adulthood is also very important.
  • Make sure you get regular physical activity. Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. Brisk walking is an ideal exercise for most adults.
  • Eat a plant-based diet. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans, and minimally processed grains and cereals each day. Look at your plate at each meal try to gradually change your eating habits until at least 2/3 of the food on your plate comes from plant sources. An example of good portions on a plate: a small chicken breast with 1 cup of cooked broccoli and 1 cup of wild rice.
  • Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. A typical serving equals one average-sized whole fruit or vegetable – like an apple or a tomato. One cup of any raw, chopped fruit or vegetable is one serving – like lettuce or fruit salad. If a fruit or vegetable is cooked, then a serving equals ½ cup – like tomato sauce or cooked spinach. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat minimally processed breads, cereals and grains. Try to reduce the amount of highly refined carbohydrates you eat. Choose breads and cereals that state “whole grain” on the label. A serving is one slice of bread, ½ cup cooked pasta, rice, or beans, and ¾ cup of most cereals.
  • Drinking alcohol is not recommended. If you drink at all, it is recommended that women drink no more than one drink per day and men no more than two.
  • Red meat should be eaten in moderation and processed meats should be avoided. Three ounces (which is the size of a deck of cards) or less of red meat per day is recommended. Processed meats are those that are preserved by smoking, curing or salting. Generally, meats purchased at the deli counter of your grocery store are less processed than pre-packaged meats.
  • Limit your amount of high calorie foods and sugary drinks. Eating a low fat diet by minimizing foods with added butter and oils (like potato chips) is a good way to reduce your intake of high calorie foods. It is also good to avoid sugary drinks like soft drinks, iced tea or lemonade made with sugar. These provide additional calories but very few nutrients.
  • Use sodium / salt in moderation. Most people consume far too much sodium in the form of salt. The recommended sodium intake is less than 2300 milligrams (mg) a day. Note that one teaspoon of salt has just over 2300 mg of sodium. It is important to understand that the vast majority of salt in our daily salt intake does not come from using a saltshaker. Rather it comes from eating processed and convenience foods – examples are soups and frozen dinners. Pay attention to food labels and choose foods that state “low sodium” on the food label. Try using herbs and spices to season foods instead of salt.
  • Prepare, preserve and store foods safely. Eat very little food that is charred, smoked and excessively cooked. Be certain to refrigerate and store perishable food safely.
  • Be cautious with dietary supplement use. Supplements are probably not needed if you follow these recommendations. However, a standard multivitamin that provides 100% of the RDA is safe for most people. Taking a multivitamin provides reasonable assurance that daily nutrition needs are met. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about any herbal, botanical or nutritional supplements you use.


© April 27, 2017.  The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute.

This handout is for informational purposes only. Talk with your doctor or health care team if you have any questions about your care.

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