November 13th, 2012
| Survivor: Hodgkin's Lymphoma
We hear and read about so many different diets or the latest food or nutrient you absolutely should or shouldn't eat, and we're left wondering what the heck we're supposed to do. Add to that frustration a cancer diagnosis, and you might be feeling more confused and overwhelmed than ever before.
Here's the bad news:
There is no magic formula or diet or "food in a box" that will be the answer to your prayers when it comes to figuring out what to eat. We are all so different biologically and need different foods at different times in our lives, so there is no "one-size-fits-all" diet or secret. We actually have to do a little work, take the time to prepare our food and pay attention to how that food makes us feel to know if it's a good choice. And most likely eating a certain way won't cure your cancer (although it's possible!).
Here's the good news:
Generally speaking, there is a diet that many experts agree can greatly benefit most people, including those affected by cancer. Eat real, whole foods and mostly plant foods. Reduce or omit processed foods, artificial foods, refined sugars and animal foods. This means plenty of vegetables, especially leafy greens, fruit, whole grains and plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. If you want to include some quality animal foods in your diet like eggs, fish or meats, then consume it in smaller amounts and pay attention to your body after eating it.
Eating clean, unprocessed whole foods is what your body needs to function properly, fight disease and maintain a healthy weight. If you can focus on this type of eating, not only will your body be better equipped to heal from and fight cancer, but it will also be better able to withstand treatment side effects, and you'll feel better in the process!
One of the first things I noticed while undergoing chemotherapy was how much more quickly I bounced back to life in between chemo sessions every two weeks, once I began getting the junk out of my diet and the good stuff in. I felt happier, more energized, stronger, and less nauseous. What a difference from my meat-and-potatoes, take-out pizza diet!
A sense of empowerment:
On top of feeling stronger and more energized, I also knew I was doing something amazing for my body that would help me through in Cancer World. From the moment I was diagnosed, I knew I couldn’t just sit back and let my doctors (no matter how awesome they were!) take control and hope everything worked. I needed to be proactive. I needed to know that what I did could actually make a difference. And it did. I knew that this food was helping my body heal from cancer - even if it only helped a little - every little bit makes a difference.
So when you're trying to find your way through the endless maze of nutrition information, try taking a step back. Go back to the basics - get clean, whole foods. Lots of plant food. Food your great-grandmother would recognize. Get in the kitchen. Get your family or friends to help you in the kitchen if you're too tired. Try growing some spinach in a pot on your window sill. Don't stress over the details, the calories or the latest diet fad. Just tune in to your body, do some experimenting and...
Go have some fun in the kitchen :)
To get you started, check out a favorite recipe of mine from Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen:
Yield: makes 2 1/2 cups
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, thinly sliced into rounds (about 1/2 cup)
2 bunches kale, thick stems removed, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 to 3 tablespoons tamari (soy sauce)
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raisins
Directions: Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the carrot for five minutes. Add the garlic, kale, tamari, cashews and raisins and saute a few minutes until cashews begin to soften.
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