Bacon, Ham, Salami and Sausages

It’s no secret we love our meat in N.Z., especially processed meats—bacon, sausages, ham, salami, corned beef. Coincidentally, did you know that we have one of the highest colorectal cancer rates in the world?

Kiwi women ranked 9th in the world in a 2018 tally. Unfortunately the two are related. Yep, that delicious sausie could be your one-way ticket to cancer-town or a layover in heart disease-ville. In fact, 34,000 cancer deaths per year globally are attributed to diets high in processed meat. Why? One of the big culprits are preservatives pumped into the meats to prevent bacteria growth and extend shelf life. But these chemically-derived additives are foreign to our bodies and can wreak havoc on our systems.

If the idea of foregoing your favourite breakfast and barbecue proteins is too much to fathom, then make this easy swap:

Look at the labels and if there are preservatives, put it back.
There are preservative-free options in many grocery chains (I buy Henderson’s bacon at Pak n Save) or ask your butcher (my local has nitrate-free bacon and MSG-free sausages).
Or get your own made and ask the butcher for preservative-free.

What about ham sandwiches?

You probably won’t like the answer: Best to limit them. (I’ve swapped ham sandwiches for natural peanut butter in my household.)

The Cancer Society recommends processed meats should not be a regular or normal part of your diet.

Keep it to small amounts every once in a while.
Really want to head to the top of the DIY cooking class? Make your own bacon.

And make sure to balance it with an extra serve of broccoli if you do eat it. Eating more vegetables reduces your chance of colorectal cancer.

bacon

References:

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-the-carcinogenicity-of-the-consumption-of-red-meat-and-processed-meat

https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/cancer-trends/colorectal-cancer-statistics

https://bowelcancernz.org.nz/about-bowel-cancer/what-is-bowel-cancer/symptoms-statistics/

https://cancernz.org.nz/assets/Nutrition-and-physical-activity/Information-sheets/BowelCancer-Risk2013FINAL.pdf

https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2020/01/02/Strongest-link-yet-between-nitrates-and-cancer

https://academic.oup.com/ije/article-abstract/20/2/362/672046

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3108955/

Image: Bacon, Courtesy of Anne Watson Photography

Making Healthy Swaps: One Week at a Time

One of the main messages I’ve pulled from watching Frozen II 342 times (which is nothing compared to the 933 times I’ve watched the first Frozen) is that if something seems overwhelming, take it one step at a time—“The Next Right Thing,” if you will.
When I began studying nutrition, I felt completely overwhelmed at the idea of making healthy changes all at once. But when I started to channel Anna, Grand Pabbi and Lieutenant Mattias and do one step at a time, it made it easier to adopt a new habit. On that note, we’re going to make one swap per week. Some of them are easy, some take a bit more time to master and some you may already be doing.