When It Comes to Cancer, Are We What We Eat?

After being diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, I began to wonder if my diet had anything to do with it — so I made some changes to eat better.

When I was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago, one of my first questions to my doctor was, “Could I have prevented this?” His opinion was, “No.”

Perhaps he was correct, but I thought to myself he has no idea how deficient my diet was of fruit and vegetables. I couldn’t stop thinking about this and wondering if I had eaten a better diet, would I have had the nutrition needed to help me fight the growth of cancer cells?

I began to do my own research and decided I needed to make a change. I read that added sugar and stress may feed cancer. The typical western diet seems to promote conditions for disease in general. I was guilty of lots of added sugar as well as this traditional diet.

According to what I read, it is healthier to eat mainly vegetables (and legumes) accompanied by olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices on our plate, which is basically a Mediterranean diet. Cooking herbs and spices are supposed to be helpful too. Only a small amount of meat and eggs are suggested, but only for added taste. Fish seemed to be allowed. (Everything in moderation!) Seeds and nuts were also recommended.

I wonder: can changing our diet, exercising and trying not to live with the fear of cancer, help those of us with the disease live more fully?

Unfortunately, I don’t enjoy eating vegetables like most people seem to, but I decided there may be some truth to the phrase, ‘You are what you eat.” It made sense to me that by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables I'd be digesting nutrients that may help keep me healthier.

I began to make a conscious effort to make a change. I purchased a high-end blender because the one I had wasn’t strong enough to make a creamy drink with the whole fruits and veggies I added. I began making smoothies with about one cup of water, kale, carrots, apple, banana and organic mixed frozen berries. I decided this would help motivate me to make nutritious drinks, hoping I would enjoy them. It was a good place to at least begin, so I tried to have one of these daily.

I also began to look for recipes to help me enjoy cooked vegetables more. I roasted broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and steak seasoning and I couldn’t believe that I could not only stomach it, but I actually began to enjoy it!

At first, I got a little carried away and even tried to eliminate all sweets. This all lasted a few weeks. Then I realized I couldn’t maintain this as strictly as I would have liked.

My feeling now is to aim for a more balanced diet, with treats once in a while. I do feel I am better off than I was before this food journey.

Let me emphasize this is my own personal experience. The point is, it empowered me to take more control of my daily diet with the hope that it would help boost my immune system. It certainly wasn’t going to hurt me, and I felt like it pushed me to find a way to eat a lot healthier than I ever have before. I also weigh less ... just another plus!

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