As I continue to do all that I can to remain cancer free, I wanted to update you on how I gradually changed my diet. I wasn’t eating horribly, but I also knew I could do a better job of treating my body like a temple and fueling it properly. I am not a food expert or nutritionist, but I am trying my best to learn and eat healthy. With effort, you too can use food as an energy source. I want you to know that I made these changes over time, and with patience.
My husband, Tom, took on the project of helping to change our diets. He read to me at night from various books and journals while I was recovering from chemo and radiation. We learned, and continue to learn, about how to eat healthy. I remember being grossed out about the chemicals in our food one night exclaiming, “Quit reading to me, I swear I’m never eating again!” You don’t have to be that drastic, but if you want to live in a healthier body, your food can be your medicine.
In a nutshell, we aren’t getting the nutrients we need from our food because our food supply is greatly depleted of nutrients and minerals. This is caused by our current agricultural practices which are chemical based and strip the soil of key nutrients. The result is that nutrients meant to fortify our bodies against breakdown are all but missing from the foods that we eat daily. Added to this is the presence of cancer-causing toxins in our food and water.
An example is the chemical Round Up, or glyphosate, used widely throughout agriculture. The World Health Organization recently listed it as a probable carcinogen to humans, (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Glyphosate_Probably_Carcinogenic_to_Humans.php). Many countries have already ban its use, but not here in the US. So you need to know how to avoid toxins like glyphosate and eat more nutrient dense food.
I Avoid Processed and Packaged Foods
Processed foods diminish food of its nutrients and enzymes through the processing methods themselves. Added to this are chemical toxins such as preservatives, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, gelling agents, etc. The Truth About Cancer reports that there are over 10,000 chemicals that are labeled GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the food industry itself!
Unfortunately, by labeling these chemicals as GRAS, food companies can add these chemicals to our food without ever having to test them for human safety. Food companies are also allowed to avoid labeling these ingredients. These chemicals allow food to have a long shelf life. That’s not what you want in your food! You want to eat food with a short shelf life!
I Eat Whole Foods
This is food that exists in nature. You know – fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beef, pork, poultry, fish and eggs.
I went a step further and had a simple blood test to see if I was intolerant to any food. I was! I was intolerant to dairy and have had to eliminate it from my diet. Giving up ice cream was a killer, but I feel better when I am not eating dairy. I now look at ice cream as something that make me feel bad so it makes it easier not to eat.
My husband is the cook of the house and we typically have something like chicken, yams, squash, string beans, carrots and salads with home grown tomatoes. This is the way you want to eat as much as possible. We have also introduced “ancient grains” such as quinoa and farro into our diet. Basically, we read labels, and if there is a word on the label that we can’t spell, or pronounce, or don’t know what it is, we don’t eat it.
We recently learned that you have to watch “organic” foods as well. I drink coconut milk instead of cow’s milk and was using an “organic” brand. I read a lot of blogs on food and nutrition and was alerted to the chemicals in “organic” coconut milk. Ugh! I now make my own and it’s super easy and inexpensive. I blend 1 cup of organic coconut flakes with 2 cups of structured water and I blend for 1 -2 minutes. Strain and keep in an airtight container! Simple and yummy and will last for about a week.
I Eat Organic fruits and vegetables
I always buy organic fruits and vegetables. They can be more expensive, but I know I am worth it. My cancer treatment was in excess of $500,000 so I figure a little extra expense on the front end will avoid a disease like cancer striking again!
I found a list in my research on the dirtiest fruits and vegetables when not grown organically or certified pesticide-free. I avoid these if they are not organic:
- Apples 7. Spinach
- Peaches 8. Bell Peppers
- Nectarines 9. Cucumbers
- Strawberries 10. Cherry tomatoes
- Grapes 11. Imported snap peas
- Celery 12. Potatoes
I quit eating apples in Junior High because I realized they gave me a stomach ache. I thought I had a food allergy to them or something. When I saw that I was tolerant to apples as a food group, I started eating organic apples. I was amazed at how good an organic apple tasted, and was surprised when I didn’t get a stomach ache. I fear that it was the pesticides that were giving me stomach aches all those years.
I try to limit my sugar intake
I wasn’t aware how rotten sugar is for the body. It actually feeds cancer and creates all sorts of havoc throughout the body. It’s been hard to limit my sugar intake because it is everywhere and it tastes good! But, there are alternatives! I avoid agave nectar, cane sugar, cane juice, and brown sugar. I had leaned on coconut sugar and honey as I came off of white sugar, but am also limiting these two sweeteners as well.
I became familiar with the glycemic index. This index offers information about how foods affect blood sugar and insulin. The lower a food’s glycemic index score, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. An example of simple swaps is to exchange a baked potato for a yam. Harvard Health Publications has an index on their site. The baked potato is shown to have a score of 111, a sweet potato at 70 and a yam at 54. Watermelon is one of the highest scoring foods, with grapefruit being the lowest. Swap higher scoring foods, with lower scoring foods.
I drink water or green tea instead of soda, juice or sports drinks. I eat fruit when I want something sweet and try to eat a variety of what is in season. But, I limit my fruit intake too. And, when I just need to have chocolate, I do eat a small square of really dark organic chocolate with sea salt! I find that if I have a little every now and then, it prevents me from eating a huge not-so-good-for-me sugary dessert later.
I Avoid Genetically Modified Foods (GMO)
These foods have been modified, and while they look like real food, they are altered. Foreign DNA is actually inserted into the primary plant species to help make it resistant to bugs, freezing, or to make it grow faster, etc. The main GMO foods I avoid unless they are listed as organic or non-GMO are:
Soy, corn, cotton seed, canola, and sugar beets.
I Choose meat, eggs, and other animal products carefully
In this area, I always look for labels that are “Non-GMO Certified”, “Pasture Raised”, and “Grass-fed”. I buy from a local butcher and do my best to be sure the meat is as clean as possible. Your best bet is to eat products from pasture-raised animals. Always ask your butcher what the animals are fed and where the animals spent their time – in a warehouse or outside grazing. Personally, I also limit my fish intake and only eat wild caught fish.
I don’t eat lunch meat because of all of the preservatives and sulfites. I find it easier to eat leftovers from meals that we have prepared ourselves. I come from a large family and have 8 brothers, so “leftovers” were not anything that ever happened growing up. I know people who won’t eat leftovers, but I personally love them! The food is ready, and most of the time it tastes better the next day.
I drink Structured Water
I also filter my water and found that for me, structured water, helps keep me more hydrated. Without proper hydration, the body can’t detox from the toxins in our environment. And, the water you drink may be part of the problem! Here is a link to the filter I use and an interview I had with Patrick Durkin of The Wellness Enterprise: http://healwithdana.com/resources/the-wellness-enterprise/. Once I began to drink and cook with structured water, the fatigue from my cancer treatment began to lift! I have an under sink filter, as well as the portable filter!
In the past, I wasn’t too concerned about the food I ate. I tried to be healthy, but I wasn’t eating organic and I did eat a lot of processed foods and sugars. I’m writing this with the hope that if it inspires one person to start making changes, my goal will be accomplished.