(pictured: raw spring rolls)
This post is for all the people that write to me marveling at my ability to function and remain fairly upbeat in spite of cancer. I have had so many people tell me that if they were me they would ball up in the corner and sob and can’t imagine how I function let alone find time to blog. The odd thing is that blogging is one thing that helps keep me sane. But I will get to the specifics on that later on.
Hearing that you or someone you love has cancer is terrifying. It was the worst day of my life and I cried like a baby. But it has been both the worst and best thing that has happened. Yes you read that right cancer has also been positive. Don’t get wrong I wish it hadn’t happened but I have learned so much during the process that it has had many positive side effects. One thing I learned was how much I am capable of and that it is important to make every minute and every decision matter rather than sleepwalking through life.
Were if not for cancer we would not have committed so completely to a healthy lifestyle. Both Dan and I love gourmet food. We used to tell ourselves that we could eat anything we wanted when we went out because our diet was so good at home. Compared to most Americans our diet at home was great, it was vegan and fairly healthy, though it could have been healthier. Eating out tasted great but was not a great plan for our health. What I am trying to say is that we tried moderation and it didn’t work for us in the slightest. I have been reminded of this recently reading Terrence’s blog “My Vegan Quest”. You should check out his blog. I have learned a lot about what it is like to be male and eat vegan in NYC with other macho males. Eating healthy is a much more difficult change for men than I imagined. Terrence has helped me to realize what my hubby goes through when he has to eat out with clients.
How do I cope with cancer? It is easier to deal with traumatic situations than you think it is. My coping mechanism is to think of cancer in the abstract, not in the specific. That way I don’t focus on the details and it seems less personal. Also by sharing what I learn with all of you I feel as though I may be helping others and that brings me quite a lot of comfort. It also helps me to think of all the other traumatic things that have happened in my life that I was able to overcome. This is just another hurdle. A larger hurdle but nothing we can’t handle.
I decided to share what I was learning about cancer and nutrition when I realized how difficult it was to find information on the topic. When your doctor tells you diet isn’t going to make a difference you find out quickly that you need to go out on your own to get the information. Thankfully I have met other doctors that say diet and lifestyle changes do make a huge difference. While many people don’t want to make lifestyle changes others are willing to fight for their health and their lives, those are the ones I am writing for.
I am the first one to admit the change is hard, it is damn hard. Frequently change stinks in fact. I was much happier believing that moderation was enough and that cancer was mostly genetic but neither seems true to me any longer. We had a very tough time changing to a vegan diet. It was more than a shock to our systems. I was quite the brat about the change as well. Since we went from omni to healthy vegan I was not prepared for the dramatic change. I can safely say now that eating a healthy vegan diet is our new normal. We used to “live to eat” but now we “eat to live”. If you had told me that a few years ago I would say that you were crazy. However when your life is threatened it is amazing what changes you are capable of making. I am writing this to let you all know that you can make this change if you want to. It is tough at first, but it does get easier and eventually you don’t even think about it. It just becomes how you live your life. In the past I would have reached for olive oil to sauté veggies and now I use water or veggie stock and don’t think about oil as one small example.
Today has been introspective for me. I was thinking about all the lifestyle changes we have made over the recent years. I suppose this was because I get so many emails from people that are trying to start “Eat to Live” (E2L) and are having problems with it. Believe me I am the first to admit that E2L is tough at first. But if you just stick with it you will reap tremendous health benefits. By flooding your body with vitamins and micronutrients far in excess of the RDA (or DRI) your health can do nothing but improve. But there are also benefits that aren’t specifically health related as well.
My favorite vain benefits from eating a healthy diet are better skin tone and texture, and stronger nails. I have seen my skin color return to the rosy glow I had in my 20’s. Also my skin seems to be more taught and many of the fine lines on my face have been disappearing. Who wouldn’t love those benefits? Now if it can just reverse the gray hair I will be one happy woman, LOL.
If any of you are interested in following a healthy vegan, like E2L, and want me to go back to posting our daily menus let me know. I will try to make that happen. It was a bit of a hassle the last time I did it, but if it will help any of you and I am happy to give it a try again.
If anyone is reading this and is battling cancer please know there is a lot you can do to improve your health. There are two books in my library that I find extremely useful. The first book is “Anticancer” and was written by an MD that battled brain cancer twice. This book gets lent out quite often. It is written in a very easy to read style but has wonderful information about what you can do to make your body inhospitable to cancer. The second book is more technical but is my oncology bible “Life Over Cancer.” This book was also written by an MD but this doc has been running a cancer treatment facility since the 80’s. It is a tougher read but covers almost every question you may have from diagnosis, through treatment and remission. Both books are uplifting and encouraging because they give you tools you can use to help yourself.
What I hope you are getting from this post is that change is possible and that you can do a lot to impact your health and the health of your family. Wives and mothers have the biggest influence on the health of their family. I used to give in to my husband when he wanted to go out to eat or have dessert so that I wasn’t being “mean”. It took me a lot of years to realize that I was saving him from himself and now my hubby is completely on board with our healthy food. Exercise is another issue, but I am still working on him. Wish me luck. ;-)
The other thing I have learned during all my nutrition research is that the same diet that is beneficial for cancer patients is wonderful for overall better health. There is no such thing as a diet that is good for one disease or another, though diet book writers want to tell us otherwise. So if you are concerned about heart disease, diabetes or weight loss the same healthy vegan diet will result in improvement in all areas of your health. Every study or scholarly article I read indicates the healthiest diet is high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds and low in animal products (meat and dairy), refined grains and sugar. You can’t get lower in meat and dairy than none, and what you are left with is our diet.
Please know you can eat tasty food that is also good for you. I hope this gives some of you hope that you can improve your health and much more quickly than you think possible. We saw measurable benefits in blood work in 30 days.
I hope everyone is having a great Thursday. Talk to you all later.