Resolve to take healthy in 2013

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Adults with a New Year resolution to eat healthier foods that can potentially lower cancer risks are invited to participate in the 2013 Healthy Bites nutrition challenge, developed by experts at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

"Eating the right foods and staying at a healthy weight can help reduce a person's chances of cancer," said Mary Ellen Herndon, a wellness dietitian at

MD Anderson. "But, maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult. That's why we created the Healthy Bites program."

Focus on small diet changes

To be launched in January 2013, Healthy Bites encourages participants to make small diet changes by completing one nutrition challenge each month in 2013. Challenges include:

1. Eat breakfast daily.

2. Eat every 5-6 hours while you're awake.

3. Eat more whole grains.

4. Make MyPlate your plate. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrition guide)

5. Limit red meat consumption.

6. Drink more water.

7. Avoid processed meat.

8. Dine out less.

9. Eat more fruits and veggies.

10. Eat plant-based protein.

11. Eat less salt.

12. Drink less alcohol.

"Research shows that successful nutrition programs focus on small changes," Herndon said. "It's these small changes that can lead to larger, more impactful behavior change."

People who join Healthy Bites will have access to MD Anderson nutrition materials, food journals, healthy recipes and expert tips to help them complete each month's challenge.

"Educate yourself and plan, plan, plan." said Lyle Rhymes, a participant who completed the "eat less salt" challenge earlier this fall. Lyle is one of 12 recruited participants who successfully completed one of the Healthy Bites challenges listed above.

"Completing this challenge was eye-opening for me," Rhymes said. "I realized just about everything we consume has salt. So, you really have to plan your daily diet."

Stories and videos featuring Rhymes and the 11 other participants will be posted each month on the Healthy Bites website. They'll share their favorite part of the challenge, obstacles they faced and advice for success to help motivate future participants.

For more information, including details on how to join the challenge, see www.mdanderson.org/healthybites.

According to the American Cancer Society, diet and physical activity, including being overweight or obese, contribute to one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States each year.

Maintaining a plant-based diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, and being physically active are some of the best ways to reduce cancer risks.

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