Eating your medicine: Classes show how food can fight cancer
Some of the best medicines can be peeled and chopped.
That's the message behind Food for Life, a series of free classes aimed at reminding people that nature provides the best prescription for health — fruits and vegetables. The classes, sponsored by The Cancer Project, focus on live cooking demonstrations that introduce students to both new techniques and new ingredients.â€¨“People enroll because they are interested in preventing cancer or have it and they don't want it to come back,” explained instructor Jean Myers. “Others just want to protect their health. They come back and say they lost weight or were able to get off their blood pressure medication.”
To Myers, eating a plant-based diet not only tastes good, but also makes powerful sense.
“You can eat how you've always eaten and need a different pill for each illness or you can take care of so many issues through healthy eating,” she said. “There is a wonderful saying that if you don't make time for health, you'll have to make times for sickness. Sometimes people say they don't have time for healthy cooking, but what is more important than your health?”
The next round of Food for Life classes begin Thursday. Classes will meet from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Thursday (except Feb. 14) through March 7. The venue will be the Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 6th Avenue and 17th Street in Yuma. “I am most grateful for them,” Myers said. “They don't charge us to have classes there. They are big supporters.”
This round of classes marks Myers' eighth year teaching Food for Life, which is funded through The Cancer Project and the Foundation of Yuma Regional Medical Center. “I don't know of anyone else (teaching Cancer Project classes) who has a grant from their hospital,” Myers said. “YRMC and its foundation have just been fantastic. Yuma is just on board with healthy eating!”
Food for Life classes cooking demonstrations, showing students how to make four to five items per class. Myers said that a real strength of Food for Life is its dedication to sharing practical recipes that people can easily incorporate into their cooking at home.
“These recipes are quick and easy, but full of flavor. They are very user-friendly, not complicated gourmet recipes with 17 ingredients,” she said. “People really enjoy seeing the food being prepared. They see it's pretty easy to do, something they can really take home and work on themselves.”
Class participants aren't automatically expected to adopt a plant-based diet over night.
“If people want to jump in and make a clean sweep, that's great. But if people aren't ready, they make changes as they are ready,” Myers said. “It just depends on people's willingness to change. We try to meet people where they are and just encourage them to make that next step.”
The Cancer Project turned to physicians, nurses and registered dieticians when the award-winning Food for Life program was developed. Myers stressed that participants can trust that classes are not based on health fads or fringe approaches to health.
“I really appreciate how The Cancer Project makes science-based recommendations. Every time a study comes out, they don't change their recommendations,” Myers said. “They wait until the full body of research comes out.”
Each round of classes is open to about 35 students. But as classes fill up every time, Myers keeps a waiting list every time. “Those people are always given the first crack at the next classes.” She added that she will likely teach the next round of classes shortly after completing this series of classes.
To register for the classes, call 580-1922 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes are free, but donations are accepted.
Darin Fenger can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6860.