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Wellness Warrior and Eating for Cancer

Learn to incorporate healthy foods into your diet as part of a wellness warrior lifestyle.
PUBLISHED November 30, 2018
Tamera Anderson-Hanna is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and became a Registered Yoga Teacher while coping with breast cancer in 2015. She owns Wellness, Therapy, & Yoga in Florida where she provides personal wellness services and coaching and she is a public speaker on wellness-related topics. You can connect with her at www.wellnesstherapyyoga.com.

Being a wellness warrior has become way of living rather than a quick fad to temporarily manage health or weight loss. However, this has not always been a habit. While I was a long-distance runner in my early 20s, I found that I could eat pretty much anything I wanted to and still maintain my weight. My diet improved slightly in graduate school, but still was not one I would go back knowing what I know now.

About 10 years before my breast cancer diagnosis, I made it a priority to learn more about nutritious foods I could eat to support my overall health, and not to just eat to satiate hunger. That was the first time I requested to see a registered dietician. The year I was diagnosed with cancer, I went back to meeting with a dietician and made that and exercise a regular habit. On average, I try to check in with my dietician about two to three times a year. It helps me stay on track and to reinforce healthy eating habits not just for myself, but for other members of my family.

I enjoy meeting with a registered dietician and recommend it to others because it allows you to customize wellness and dietary needs for what works best for your body. It also helps you to learn and incorporate healthy and potentially cancer-fighting foods. There are a few superfoods we can incorporate into our diet to help nourish our body and support remission. I have worked with my dietician to add some to my life. My dietician recommends a diet consisting of two-thirds plant-based foods and only one-third animal protein. Some of the recommendations include incorporating vegetables and fruits with dark rich colors. According to my dietician, fresh is best, but frozen for some varieties is also good. Examples of fresh vegetables include squash, bell peppers added to salads, radishes, celery, broccoli, and artichokes.

Due to their higher sugar content, I avoid dried fruits. For fruits, I use frozen wild blueberries for the increased anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, and still enjoy an array of other fruits. Living in South Florida, I enjoy throwing in red dragon fruit, mangos and strawberries. For fun and the health benefits, I have also started growing my own pineapple plants to go with my mango and avocado trees. It is fun to harvest some of my own fruits, and using some organic fertilizer has led me to harvest very delicious mangos and pineapples.

Fiber is important, and I enjoy starting the day with steel-cut oatmeal mixed with some ground flax seed and wild blueberries for taste. I have also been told to increase my folate-rich foods and for me, this includes beans. I enjoy adding chickpeas to my spinach salads along with fresh avocado and other fun items. I also sometimes add spinach to a kale and pineapple smoothie I enjoy making. Whatever you do, make it fun and tasty for yourself. The kale smoothie is healthy, and I enjoy the taste with a bit of plain Greek yogurt, almond milk and the fresh pineapple. I am also making a switch to limit my coffee intake and drink green tea or just stick to water.

With thanks to my efforts and supportive dietician, I have been maintaining a healthy weight and according to my blood tests, my sugar levels are within normal range, my HDL levels have improved since last year, and I am consciously working to keep my overall cholesterol levels down. In addition to benefits regarding my cancer, this lifestyle is also helping me to live a healthier life in general. Can you find your taste for wellness by seeing a dietician? Inquire with your insurance plan or ask at your local cancer support community for resources you can benefit from.

 

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