I thought I would devote today’s post to an assessment of how closely I have followed the nutrition advice I have been given.
First though, this should make you laugh. My daughter-in-law sent me a bottle of aloe vera gel. Unsure what to do with it (Stephen had no idea) I applied it to my sore, shorn head one evening. In fact, you are supposed to drink a glass each day. I find it rather unpleasant though, so I only drink it occasionally. Some early research suggests that it might have cancer-busting properties.
Here’s a rundown of the advice my nutritionist friend gave me eight weeks ago.
Avocados, one a day. 99% success rate. There was one day when the very thought of an avocado made me feel nauseous.
Onions, leeks, garlic. I use our home-grown onions in most things so I guess I can give myself a high pass here. I almost always have a leek or two in my fridge to add to soups and stews, or even just to serve as a vegetable. And garlic is always on hand.
Dandelion root tea. 100% pass mark. I have got used to the slightly bitter taste. It’s my first drink of the day. Dandelion is said to have cancer-busting properties.
Leafy vegetables. A high pass in this section. Brassicas such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, (these I love to eat raw) kale, and brussel sprouts are all favourites. Spinach is not a brassica but I eat a lot of that too. My only gripe is that curly kale comes in huge packs. It keeps quite a while, but even so I struggle to get through it.
No red or processed meat. I can claim 100% success here. Fish, chicken, turkey, or just vegetarian food has been the basis of my meals for two months now. I miss bacon, but will probably never eat it again! Bob, meanwhile, is often served beef casseroles, or bacon and eggs.
Dairy-free. I switched to coconut milk for most things (to go with my porridge or cereal and in my one coffee a day) and obtained Vitalite to spread on my toast. But I cannot claim 100% success. I have used dairy milk, butter and cream in cooking. There have been occasions when preparing food for the family that it’s just too great a step to cook separately just for me. And since I am not actually dairy-intolerant, the small amounts I consume this way surely have done no harm. It’s also very difficult when eating out to remain totally dairy-free. The link between dairy products and cancer is unproven. In this country at least, milk is not boosted with growth-enhancing hormones. And I worry about calcium deficiency if I abandoned dairy altogether.
Green tea. I stopped drinking ‘builders’ tea’ in favour of fruit teas. I also dug out some odd packets of artisan tea (not necessarily green) purchased in Sri Lanka. I’m not so sure that green tea is any better at cracking cancer than any other tea.
Gluten-free. Here I had to admit defeat. I found an excellent artisan gluten-free loaf at a function I went to, but it proved impossible to buy without driving for miles. I don’t care at all for the stuff the supermarket sells on the ‘free from’ shelf, so I have decided that this was not really for me. Again, I am not gluten-intolerant, and usually only eat whole-meal or rye bread. So I am afraid gluten-free represents an epic fail for me.
Supplements. These include probiotics, vitamin D3, fish oil, turmeric, propolis. I take these in capsule or tablet form and haven’t missed a day yet. When I had a sniffly nose, threatening to turn into a cold, I made myself golden turmeric milky drinks. I use turmeric powder, mixed with black pepper and coconut oil to make into a paste, then heat it with coconut or almond milk. Add a dash of nectar or honey and you have a beautiful, warming, and healthy drink. My snuffles never developed into a cold. The drink was very comforting during the cold days we have experienced recently.
Fasting. All the medics I have mentioned this to are pretty unhappy to hear that I am not eating before each chemo treatment. I said in my nutrition post back in February that more research needs to be done before it is accepted by the medical profession. All I can say is that my side effects have been nothing like as horrendous as might be expected. For example, my finger nails are still hard and healthy, I still have eyebrows, my skin (scalp aside) hasn’t suffered the soreness I was warned of, and, apart from some dryness in the mouth, I haven’t suffered the ulceration that some experience.
But I cannot claim 100% success with sticking to the fast. I manage the 24 hours prior to treatment ok, but I really need something to eat once I get home afterwards. The recommendation was 24 hours before and 24 hours after.
I say these things, but I recognise that I still have a way to go. However, apart from feeling a bit rough for a week after a session, and losing my taste for food for a while, I am perfectly able to lead a full and active life.
Do I pass the nutrition test? I think so. Despite the gluten-free failure, I award myself an overall mark of 80%.
The benefits of exercise
We were joined at my C U Fitter chemosize class this week by a researcher from the University of Surrey. She’s researching the benefits of exercise in conquering cancer and was full of praise for the class and our trainer. I have to agree that exercise is very important. As soon as my last chemo session is over I am going back to my regular gym and will try to get to some classes. I haven’t yet stopped my medical suspension because I thought I might not get full use of my hefty subscription during chemo. Meantime I try to walk for an hour each day and am attending two classes a week at CU Fitter.
Next time: more great stuff from McMillan nurses.
As before, this blog is not intended to be advisory in any way. My nutrition regime is simply how I understand the advice I have been given and it’s personal to me. Please consult an expert before changing your diet.