I have always been a bit confused when it comes to nutrition. Eat 5 cups of vegetables per week, 2 servings of fish, 1 serving of red meat, drink 8 glasses of water, but everything in moderation. A week later, red meat is bad for you, eat only vegetables, take on the Mediterranean diet. Let me tell you, it doesn’t get any easier when you have cancer.
I have consulted with a dietitian, nutritionist, websites, books and participated in a plant based diet at a meditation retreat. Everyone tells you something different. Both the dietitian and nutritionist talk about moderation and having a balanced diet based on the food pyramid. This includes chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables and fruits. Also given that I have bowel cancer, things such as extra virgin olive oil is important to help my bowels move efficiently. Then incorporating garlic, turmeric and other cancer fighting foods into my diet is also important. Only wholegrain or multigrain breads, pastas and rices as opposed to white and to drink plenty of water. This diet makes sense to me because it does seem balanced and provides you with a variety of foods and choices.
The books and website on the other hand are confusing. Each one tells you something different. One book will talk about the importance of cancer fighting herbs and supplements, many of which I have been told can interrupt chemotherapy drugs and stop them from working. Whilst others such as Beating Cancer With Nutrition by Patrick Quillin takes a similar stance as the dietician and nutritionist, a balanced diet including fish, dairy, vegetables, ect. Yet another view on nutrition is the plant based diet. I first tired this on a meditation retreat a few weeks back. I must admit, being a meat eater, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. But I think I would struggle doing it full time. This diet removed all meats, dairy and oils. All the food was vegetable based and primarily organic. I have since come across books that also recommend the plant based diet for cancer patients. But in all honesty…..who has the time. If you take everything that has been recommended that I do within a single day (meditate for and hour and a half, either yoga of qigong once a day, exercise, social interactions, resting and a full night sleep), where exactly do you then get the time to prepare 5 meals for the day. This does not include the week after chemo that I am too sick and tired to do anything at all. Although I understand the idea of this diet, I also believe that a healthy intake of dairy and meat is also important, but I am no expert. To make things even more interesting, there is certain foods, such as corn, that my stomach can no longer tolerate after my surgery.
So my solution, to go with my instincts. I think the most important factor to a cancer diet is to cut out refined sugars as these have been proven to “feed” cancer cells. With a decent serving of vegetables and fruit and plenty of water, I believe a balanced diet is more achievable and more sustainable in the long run…..well for me anyway. Nutrition and diet can be such a personal thing and listening to your body and what it needs is important. Taking in information from numerous sources may has left me confused, but it has also lead me to a diet that I believe will work for me.