Nourishing Your Body During Cancer Treatment

When I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer the second time, I turned to my husband and said “I need some treats.” In typical Jack fashion he ran out to the store and returned with a tub of hot fudge, a variety of different ice cream and multiple bottles of wine. I proceeded to drown my sorrows for several days until I realized that this hot fudge habit was going to be a hard habit to break! I decided to get serious about what I was putting into my body. Now it was as though I had a “bad diet” (other the hot fudge incident), but I decided to step up my game.

I did my research. Thank God for the Internet. Sifting through a lot of information I learned that so much of our food is tainted by pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, GMOs as well as many other chemicals.

I started to think differently about the food I was eating. I began to think of it as fuel or  a sort of medicine for my body. When you are undergoing cancer treatment whether it be radiation, chemotherapy or both, cancer cells are being destroyed. Your body is then very busy building new cells. This is one of the reason most patients experience such fatigue during this time. By deciding to put only good things into my body, I was  helping it to do the work it needed to do.

I started with small steps. I began to buy mostly organic fruits and vegetables. Now this can be expensive, especially if you are feeding a family. The Environmental Watch Group (EWG) recommends buying organic for the dirty dozen.
1.  Strawberries

2. Cherries

3.  Spinach.

4.Pears

5.Nectarines.

6.Tomatoes

7. Apples.

8. Celery

9. Grapes.

10. Potatoes

11.Peaches

12. Sweet Bell Peppers

Fruits and veggies that will be peeled like bananas or avocados do not need to be organic.

I also joined an organic farm share which I love. There is something about picking your own food which gives you such an appreciation and respect for the food that you are putting in your body. The farm also introduces you to fruits and vegetables that you might not be familiar with. Who knew that beet greens sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper would be so delicious? Yum!

The next step was to look for chicken processed without any hormones and antibiotics. If you can find free range, all the better. Wild caught fish like salmon, my fave. I eat very little beef but when I do I try to buy grass fed.

I mostly avoid dairy, but if I do have it, I look for organic w/o hormones or antibiotics. Sometimes I will have organic whole milk Greek or regular yogurt.

Okay, so now that I’ve told you what I don’t eat, what do I eat you might ask. Breakfast for me is usually a smoothie. One of my favorite is:
1. 1 cup frozen organic blueberries (fresh can be used as well)
2. 1 cup almond milk
3. 1 cup organic oatmeal
4. 1 tbsp organic peanut butter/ almond butter
5. 1 scoop of a vegan protein powder (I try to avoid soy in my protein powder)
6. 1 tbsp Chia Seeds (good source of Omega 3)
7. 1tsp of cinnamon

Spinach/ Kale can be added as well as any organic fruit or 1/2 banana can be substituted for the blueberries. I also will exchange the peanut butter with 1/4 avocado. Have fun with it and play with different combinations!

When a friend of mine was diagnosed with Lymphoma last year, a good friend decided to make her oatmeal in a jar while she was going through chemotherapy. Every week she would deliver a weeks worth of oatmeal mixed with almond milk, fresh fruit with a little bit of cinnamon, served individual canning jars. She would collect the used jars and fill them for the following week. I remember my friend telling me how much she looked forward to getting those jars every week. Very often it was the only thing she could “keep down” during chemo. What a beautiful gift of friendship this was.

Lunch and Dinner are usually pretty similar. Protein with fresh veggies and a salad with 1/4 avocado. A dressing  made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Yum! I try to drink 8 glasses of water a day. It is crucial to stay hydrated especially during  treatment.

I avoid using plastic containers to store my food. There is A theory that the plastic RELEASES chemicals into your food.

I also avoid artificial sweeteners and sugar. Studies have shown that Aspartame can take 4-6 weeks to completely get out of your system.

Now, I am not trying to tell you that I’m perfect everyday. I have never met a piece of chocolate I didn’t like. I believe in the 90/10 rule. As long as I eat healthy 90% of the time I can allow myself an occasional treat. And I don’t consider that cheating , that is just living!

I hope this has been helpful and has helped clarify healthy eating. Go slow, take small steps but soon you will feel and look so much better. I believe that my doctors have done their job to treat me and now it is up to me to heal and stay strong!

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