What did you learn about food from your father? Do you have a first memory of your father cooking for the family? How did your father influence the way you eat? As we celebrate Father’s Day this month, it’s a great time to reflect on our dads and how we care for the men in our lives.
My father grew up in a very small town in the rural South. As a child, his family had a large garden and also operated a country store in their town with a population of 300 people. His love for fresh vegetables started at an early age. He had simple tastes in food which only continued as he traveled with the military.
The first meal I recall him cooking for us was supper. If my mother worked late, he would warm up leftovers for us. Sometimes he warmed the food a little too much making it a little “toasty.” But, my brother, sister, and I ate it, and were glad to have a hot meal. On some Sunday evenings, he would make breakfast for us to have at supper. We thought that was such a treat! Then later in life, he enjoyed making chili in the slow cooker, when the slow cooker first became a popular appliance. He had his own recipe that he adapted. He spent a lot of time chopping and slicing vegetables to go with the ground beef and seasonings. We loved watching Daddy cook as he would talk to us about the day’s events and what was going on in our lives. Cooking was, of course, a way to make good food, but also a way to spend quality time with Dad.
Now my generation is caring for dads and other men in our lives. Weekly I hear from many women who need food strategies, plans, and recipes to help their husbands, fathers, and brothers on their cancer journeys. Together, we can pinpoint the nutrition strategies that would be most helpful for these gentlemen! Often, I suggest starting with practical food strategies about cooking, relationship of food to the family, and timing of meals. When going through cancer treatment, it’s always great to have a nutrition expert to ask questions about food and cancer.
The American Cancer Society suggests four cancer screening tests for men. Some health professionals may suggest additional cancer screenings depending on the medical and family history of each man. These top four screening tests are a great place to start taking care of dads:
Screening for men can start at age 50, or earlier depending on personal and family medical history. There are several screening tests for colon cancer. The most common of these is a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, polyps can be removed (and tested) before they turn into cancer. Finding problems earlier helps improve successful treatments. Ask a doctor for the best screening plan for your dad.
Around age 50, men should talk to their doctor about screening for prostate cancer. African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer are at an increased risk and may need to start screening at age 40 or 45.
Men ages 55-74 with a history of tobacco use should consult with their doctor about lung cancer screening. Low-dose CT scan may be recommended. Even if your dad has never smoked or quit years ago, a screening for lung cancer may be lifesaving if your dad shows symptoms of lung cancer such as persistent cough or shortness of breath.
Screening for skin cancer starts at an earlier age than the other three cancer screenings. Why? We are all exposed to the sun, which can change the health of our skin. Skin Cancer is the most preventable cancer encourage your dad to use smart sun strategies such as wearing sunscreen every day. Ask for a skin exam for the man in your life at his annual health check-up.
Caring for dads and the other men in our lives on their cancer journeys is an important role. Celebrate the men you love by supporting healthy food choices and timely cancer screenings!