I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my diet these days. Whether it has to do with why nothing on a particular menu works for me or why I need to know if there will be a refrigerator at my location, people are really curious when they start to realize how much time and effort seems to go into the food area of my life right now.
I’ll be honest – I spend a lot more time learning about food, shopping for food, and preparing food now than I did a year ago. A lot. While Hope is a little tweaked that I spend much of my Saturday mornings preparing food for the week instead of throwing her ball around the yard, I’ve come to really enjoy the ritual that has developed around meal planning and preparing.
Oftentimes, I know I am being asked what I eat because there appears to be a link between my dietary shifts and my cancer going into remission. And while I definitely think the two are related, I don’t necessarily think that my diet is a cure-all or that any diet in particular is a one-size-fits-all healing methodology. So while I’m going to share what is working for me right now, I really want to remind y’all of the one thing that I know did actually help me heal – listening to my intuition. To God. To the deep knowing that urges each of us in the direction that is right for us.
And while this is my direction, your mileage may vary.
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As I have listened to my body and paid more attention to how it responds to different dietary elements, I’ve learned that there are certain things it really wants right now. How can I tell? Some mornings the pain in my body is near crippling – and I can link it to inflammation from something off-diet I ate the day before. If I bloat terribly, or have abdominal pains – generally this is also due to something I ate that my body is not interested in right now. While some of these signals are heightened now due to the impacts of chemotherapy, I am fairly certain the existed to some degree before. I just wasn’t paying attention.
My body is doing very well these days with a diet that consists largely of foods that are proven to be anti-inflammatory along with foods that boost my immune system.
My body – especially my joints – greatly prefers a gluten free diet.
It really prefers to be balanced on the alkaline end of the spectrum.
I am also doing quite well with a vegan(ish – see below) diet. I was originally placed on this type of diet due to the prevalence of hormones in our meat and dairy supply in this country. Because ovarian cancer is a hormonal cancer, limiting my exposure to those hormones is critical (this is also why I am not allowed to use any kind of hormone-replacement therapy to help with the symptoms of menopause – although given the frequency shifts I have experienced I don’t think I would opt for those any way at this point. But that’s a squirrel for another day.)
And I don’t drink alcohol. That whole sobriety thing.
I try to stick with organic, non-GMO, whole foods as often as possible. Nearly nothing processed comes into my kitchen.
While each of these main focal points were discovered in the course of my own research and treatment, how I arrived at implementing them in my diet was not by being handed a pamphlet that said “here is a guarantee to heal your body”.
Instead – I listened. Each of the above are things that simply feel “right” in my body. I do not feel like I am missing out of anything. I do not cling rigidly to each of these things if my body is truly asking for something outside of these parameters. It’s a fluid system of feeding the vessel of my being with what truly nourishes it.
But the above are my general guidelines.
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So what about soy and sugar?
Originally these were removed from my diet. But now they are back in. In very limited quantities.
The physician I consult with regarding my diet acknowledges the theory that cancer “feeds” off of sugar, but does not feel this is the biggest dietary concern when it comes to cancer prevention. After doing a ton of reading on the topic, I tend to agree. And I don’t feel my body telling me to eliminate all added sugar completely, so on occasion it makes its way into my diet (generally either in the form of an almond milk yogurt or a vegan muffin. Or the donut I ate yesterday. Because sometimes you just have to live a little).
There is also science that shows that in cases of ovarian cancer, soy can have a positive impact on survival rates. So my doctor is fine with my having a small amount per week, so long as it is non-GMO. This can be tricky to find, but its doable. I don’t much care for tofu, so its not something that is a huge deal to me anyway. But its nice to have another protein option.
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I would be remiss if I did not mention how strongly I believe in the transfer of energy through the food we eat. If the food I am putting into my body comes from a being who suffered and was frightened at the time of his death, I believe that suffering and fear is also entering my body. Similarly, if I am eating a delicious treat that my sweet friend Suzi made by hand in her kitchen with all the love that I know she puts into each dessert she produces, or if I am sharing dinner with Mark and Whitney’s generous and caring family, I also believe that love and generosity is entering my body.
So much of what has occurred in my last year has been demonstration of the way energy impacts our lives, that I certainly am mindful of that as I select, prepare, give thanks for, and consume my food. I so truly believe that the kitchen in a place where mindfulness is very much required. And oftentimes very much missing.
So if I am a guest at someone’s home and they have prepared a lovely meal that doesn’t meet every parameter of my ideal diet – I’m still going to eat it. That’s where the “ish” comes into things. Because, honestly, love trumps everything. Especially labels.
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So what do I eat in a given day? Here is what this week looks like:
While my processed foods are extremely limited, I do have a vegan, gluten, soy free protein bar that I like. I typically grab one on the way out the door with Hope for her morning walk.
Breakfast an hour or so later is gluten-free overnight oats made with almond milk, ground flaxseed, unsweetened shredded coconut, and walnuts. I add some strawberries or blackberries on top.
I snack on clementines throughout my day. They actually help with my hot flashes. Go figure.
Lunch is a mix of roasted and sautéed veggies – kale, red onion, broccoli, asparagus, purple and red potatoes, and carrots this week – tossed with turmeric, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt.
My afternoon snack is chia pudding with almond butter and another dose of berries.
Oftentimes dinner is a roasted sweet potato with mashed avocado.
If I’m looking for a snack later in the evening, I typically have some almond milk yogurt that I’ve stuck in the freezer (again – the hot flashes y’all) and will go for that.
I also drink a ton of water with various essential oils added, at least three cups of green tea, and one kombucha (cancer hates green tea and kombucha). Herbal teas are thrown in there too.
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I want to end this food-related update with a reminder of what I said at the start – the most important thing anyone can do is listen to their body. I don’t care if you are fit as a fiddle or struggling with some knock-down-drag-out physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual illness. This doesn’t mean listening to the voice that says “that cake sounds good” as you fly by the office kitchen running to one meeting while on the phone with someone else and plotting how you can live five lives in the next hour.
It means doing the sometimes uncomfortable thing and getting quiet. Slowing down. Taking real stock. I love the heck out of cheese. My mouth wants all of it. The rest of me? Not so much. When I started paying attention, I realized it makes my joints hurt. It makes my belly bloat. My body does not want it. Even if the hormones in much of our dairy supply didn’t cause my most recent cancer, it is still clear to me that my body is asking that I not feed it dairy. So I’m not.
Listen to your body friends. Its trying to help you.