Whatever ails you, the first remedy is diet and exercise, specifically a whole foods/real food meal plan and regular exercise. Such a simple remedy and yet not the first choice of most folks. Since my cancer diagnosis sixteen years ago I’ve several times heard of people who, when told they had cancer would say, ‘I hope I don’t have to change my diet.’ That boggles my mind. It never occurred to me to do anything less that everything I could to get beyond my cancer diagnosis. Diet was the least of that journey.
Day two of knowing I had cancer found me at the giant Borders in Seattle buying the first of many books for my research. I figured I needed to gather knowledge, to adjust my diet for optimum wellness, to network with others to find my best health care team, and to address the emotional and spiritual issues around my cancer dance. The diet wasn’t a real big deal. I stopped eating all meat on the road since I couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t full of growth hormones and antibiotics. I eschewed salmon unless it was wild, and limited my dairy. I’m not a junk food eater nor do I crave sweet foods and I cook most of my food from scratch, so really eating for the cancer thing was not a big hardship.
I started loosely following the Blood-Type diet. Loosely, because there are things that I really did not want to stop eating: olives, hot peppers, blue cheese, bacon and avocados. When I eliminated beef, chicken and pork and only (mostly) ate lamb and turkey my digestion improved immeasurably. I also did a lot of herbal and homeopathic digestion support and started monthly colonics for the duration of the dance.
These days my diet is largely organic and very local. I always eat breakfast, a leftover from taking so many supplements whilst cancer-dancing. Breakfast always includes local, whole milk yogurt on my oatmeal, usually with grated asiago cheese and harissa. There are those who say that fermented foods are especially good because those foods are easier to digest and have lots of live enzymes and available nutrients. How cool is that, cuz for the last couple of years I’ve been making my own kimchi that I eat nearly every day. As well, I have finally perfected my kombucha (fermented tea beverage) and a decent ginger beer, both made by forms of fermentation.
After writing Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan said, when asked what should we eat, ‘Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.’ Seems fairly simple and I think it’s worth trying before doing the pharmaceuticals that have so many side effects and mostly just make the big corporations lots of money. Those corporations put chemicals in food which creates dis-ease and then medicates to perpetuate the dis-ease.
It’s fairly easy to figure out what constitutes a balanced and health-promoting diet. Eating a variety of vegetables with whole grains and small portions of meat and dairy while limiting refined carbohydrates and sugars and staying away from manufactured foods with unpronounceable ingredients is the way to be as healthy as possible.
I’m not a big fan of eating, really. Eating takes up altogether too much time in the day for me. At the same time I have a jaded palette so anything I eat has to have a lot of flavour. I can’t escape the need for good fuel so that I can sustain my long days ( I sleep about 5-6 hours, mostly) so I don’t waste my eating time on anything that is not going to be good for me. I don’t usually eat bread. It is filler with not enough nutrients. I will make bread if I have a craving for toast, that way I know exactly what is in the bread. My main meal of the day is comida, early afternoon. I got in the habit in Mexico. Usually it’s made in my big frying pan, mostly veggies with some egg for protein. I like to treat the vegetables as if they are pasta or grain. I can cook a panful of food in less than fifteen minutes.
Right now the garden is producing lots of cucumbers so my evening light meal is cucumbers dressed with whole milk yogurt and mint or cilantro, sometimes with an avocado. If I need something really late a spoonful of peanut butter or two works for me.
I rarely eat out. Twenty-four years working on the road and eating three meals a day in restaurants was enough to leave me unimpressed with most food cooked for money. Most of those meals do not live up to the flowery menu descriptions. I once had a surprisingly excellent wild salmon dinner with wonderful side dishes at the Delta Hotel in Sun Peaks, BC. It didn’t even require my ubiquitous hot sauce. Joshua’s (long gone from Banff, replaced by another crappy hotel and shops) always had good food but I had my own personal waitress, Celine, who told me what to eat and she was always correct. Lamb pasanda at A Taste of India in Vancouver, anything at Villa de Lupo, also in Vancouver, Rebar’s in Victoria.
I understand that crappy unreal food can have addictive properties. Still, what we eat is one thing we have control of and gradually changing from eating manufactured food with no nutritive value to whole, preferably organic, sustainable foods is doable. The more a person eats food that is real fuel, the less likely that person will want to waste digestive space on candy, high-fructose anything and all the chemical crap that masquerades as food in the stores these days, and with a real food meal plan, mental and emotional health will improve with the physical.