Diet is a really tough topic. Period. Whether you’re battling cancer or not, navigating the plethora of information out there about what is healthy and what is not is overwhelming. If we consider all the fad diets that come and go, it’s clear that this is a never ending exploration with unlimited differences of opinions. After my diagnosis, one hour to the next, I could get different suggestions from nurses, doctors, dieticians, friends, family members, random strangers, about what I should be eating. I can recall being told, in the same day, McDonald’s would be healthier for me than a deli meat sandwich from Tim Horton’s. Another day, I was told that if I was having a hard time getting enough calories in a day, I should add chocolate milk to my protein shakes and eat ice cream. Holy sugar Batman!
I think the absolute best advice I received during treatment was, ‘Don’t bother making big changes to your diet right now‘. I endorse this statement. I mean, if you are eating fast food all the time and drinking a lot of pop, you may want to consider some fresh vegetables and lots of water. After all, your treatment is going to destroy your good cells and bad cells alike. Here are a few other things you may want to consider:
- Do you eat spicy food in your regular diet? If not, probably not a good idea to explore your interest in jerk chicken while you’re taking treatment. The spices can aggravate your mouth, throat and GI system if you’re taking chemotherapy leading to mucositis (mouth lesions).
- What treatment are you taking? A targeted therapy like Arsenic Trioxide (ATO) is better at isolating the bad cells and you may or may not experience extreme drops in your white blood count (WBC). If you hit the high risk jackpot like me, you are probably going to be infused with something like Idarubicin or Doxorubicin which will completely knock out your infection fighting neutrophils. If you become neutropenic, you will be susceptible to bacteria that your body would otherwise protect you from. In fact, your own bodily bacteria may fight each other and cause complications. That said, use caution when preparing foods, cleaning cooking equipment and general sanitation.
- If it doesn’t sound like a good idea, it’s probably not a good idea. So, if a dietician tells you to drink lots of chocolate milk for calories and that sounds like an amazing idea but then you scratch your head and ask yourself why that sounds like an amazing idea, it’s probably not a good idea.
- Have you gotten to a point where you have a little bit of energy to spare? If so, maybe it’s a good idea to spend some time evaluating what you want to do about your diet for the rest of your life. By diet, I don’t mean cutting out carbs for a month before your withdrawal takes hold and you go to your local bakery to buy all the Italian bread they’ve got and eat it all with peanut butter in one sitting (please see the third bullet point). I mean, what lifestyle changes are you willing to explore to improve your overall health and wellbeing so you can enjoy the best life you can. There is no right answer here. Regardless of what all those fad diet infomercials promote (for profit), the fact is, how you choose to live your life is a personal decision. Which leads me to my second piece of advise on this topic…DO YOUR RESEARCH!
The Bottom Line
You and only YOU can decide what should and should not go in your body. Be informed!
I will certainly post more at a later date about my findings in the research I’ve done on the food industry including industrial farming. It’s pretty alarming, Until then, keep up the good fight. You’ve got this!