Food?

Hi ladies, just wanted to ask about the diets that some of you follow. I'm trying to get my head around it. I'm recently in remission and like all of you I'm willing to try anything to not go through what I've just been through ever again! I'm in the panic stage the past few weeks where I think that every twinge is cancer and every time I'm bloated that its something terrible! Is it best to eat completely organically? Do you just buy the organic options from supermarkets? Also what things do you opt for when out for meals etc? I take ginger root supplements as I read on here that can help, I think some people think its crazy but when you've had cancer then I think your willing tovtry anything! Also is it best to be vegetarian? Im definitely much more conscious of what I put in my body since my diagnosis but I've never eaten terribly to be honest, sorry this is long, I'm just really anxious about recurrence and would appreciate advice, Hayley

10 Replies

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  • Hi Hayley,

    Your questions:

    "Is it best to eat completely organically?" Yes, but not always possible. It is better to eat the antioxidants in fruits and veg, even if not organic, but they contain chemicals that can cause problems. If you can find locally grown, unsprayed fruits and veg, that's brilliant and they tend to be high in salvesterols which are also important for us after cancer. Don't shun produce that has been nibbled by snails and slugs: these are producing high levels, and eat the skins of fruit and veg too, as they often contain the highest concentrations.

    "Do you just buy the organic options from supermarkets?"

    No, try to find local producers, but the supermarket are useful back up. In terms of dairy produce and meat (if you eat it), try to find a local oranic producer that raises grass fed animals. It is the feeding of cattle on artificial feeds and keeping them in that has changed the composition of mass produced dairy and meat products. Same applies to other animals and especially poultry. Fish is better, but often has high chemical contamination. I prefer to be vegetarian - but that's on principles of husbandry.

    "what things do you opt for when out for meals etc?"

    I'm not obssessive about it, and will have the odd meal out, but in general, I prefer to eat food I have prepared myself and therefore know what I'm eating.

    Also, kick out sugar and substitute with agave nectar or xylitol (but don't give xylitol to your dog - it can kill him/her!).

    The book I would recommend is 'Anticancer; a new way of life.' It explains in depth, the changes to make and why.

    Very best wishes,

    Isadora

  • Interesting you should post this question Hayley, as I'm researching the same thing myself. I've come across the Jane Plant Programme which advocates completely cutting out dairy products including meat from dairy animals. She was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and her book 'Your life in your hands' is quite straightforward and contains a lot of information to support her arguments. Does anyone have any knowledge of this Programme?

  • Hi Mary,

    Jane Plant is a new name to me - but how appropriate!!

    I shall look her up.

    Bestest,

    Isadora

  • I know, its really baffling me! Thankyou isadora, its really helpful, do you cut out dairy all together? Also do you eat meat substitute such as quorn? There are lots of green grocers where i live, do you think they're produce is organic and better than supermarkets? Sorry tp ask so much, just want to try and get it right, thankyou for the book recommendation, hayley

  • Hi Hayley - interesting question. When I was first diagnosed in 1998 my husband did a lot of research and got very useful advice from what was then the Bristol Cancer Clinic and the surgeon. Basically it was to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, cut out sugar and additives, and limit red meat. It wasn't unlike what we already ate but we did up our intake of brocilli etc until i felt I was turning green; and we already drunk green tea. Interestingly I read the 'Anti-cancer' book that several people of recommended (and thanks of that recommendation ladies) and found that the diet we put together in 1998 was very similar to the one that the author recommends. I didn't give up alcohol. Whether it was the diet or just good luck I did have a 13 year remission.

    When OC returned last year I continued with the same diet - although the berry consumption has gone up - and found that I naturally rejected dairy products. I can't take milk o milk products and I assumed it was a side effect of the treatment but I also wonder if it is my body selecting what it needs.

    As for organic - I agree about the worry of what animals are feed on and chemicals sprayed on veg and fruit. But it is easier to find produce that is identified by where and how it is grown now, and food labelled organic is often markedly more expensive. Difficult if you are feeding a family. Supermarket produce is often labelled with the source. Your local green grocers should be able to tell you where they source theirs. To be, or not to be, a vegetarian? Like most people our meat consumption fell away naturally as more interesting vegetables and recipes became available. I love fish but do take notice of environmental and health considerations. On the whole I think a healthy diet that anyone would benefit from is the best option with a few added ingredients - like ginger- that seem to be beneficial to ladies with OC.

    Most important - food and meals are to be enjoyed. Eating out is fun and you soon find that you read a menu with an eye as to what will be in things. Like Isadora I do like to know what I am eating so have become more picky are where I eat and what I choose, but I certainly don't want to give up doing the things I enjoy.

    All the best - enjoy putting your diet together

    Angela

  • hi hayley,

    i am also in the same position as you and have read both anti-cancer and jane palnts books.Both books have a wealth of info and basically say to stop eating refined foods and lots of veg and fruits and cut out diary. i have both books near my bed and read them every nite as a constant reminder. jane Plants revised edition now refers to OC as well. i do find it difficult as i ahve a house full of teenage children so there is lots of junk food around. i enjoy fruits etc but dont always have the energy to prepare my food, but feel scared of buying ready meals etc. i certainly recommend the books as they empower you to feel in control parvin

  • Thankyou for the replies, I don't want to become obsessed with it, I'm just terrified of the cancer returning! I keep thinking that I've already had it and im only twenty five so its bound to come back and get me! Need to get out of this frame of mind I know, hayley

  • I think it's all about being sensible, however, I totally agree with the eating of local, unprocessed, organic food if possible. As for dairy, I prefer Soya milk and other products, and find my body tolerates non-acidic foods better anyway. I go for goat's cheese and feta ..again, I prefer them!

    I think steering clear of chemical additives makes good sense. Our bodies were not meant to ingest them. The Bristol Cancer Centre did a lot of research and is now The Penny Brohn Centre. They do a lot of books and info sheets. Try not to worry TOO much, staying calm is better for you too, so don't get too hung up if you fancy a little treat every now and then.

    Good luck with your continuing good health

    Love, Wendy xx

  • Hiya Hayley,

    Fantastic question and one that's often on my mind, too. I don't have much to add to the excellent comments above, but just a few thoughts:

    a dietitian who came to our local maggies's cancer care centre to talk about nutrition after cancer recommended increasing fruit and veg intake regardless of whether it's organic or not - as organic can mean it's more pricey and you can't buy as much. I compromise by always buying organic carrots and potatoes, as root veggies soak up more pesticides. An organic box scheme might help you and cut out the middleman too - you get your fruit and veggies delivered to home straight from local organic farms- the Soil Association website has details of schemes across the UK. Having said that I don't worry too much myself - organic does not necessarily mean that no sprays have been used, and I reckon that conventional methods are probably ok - so I try to eat a variety and not to worry.

    'The Rainbow Diet' by Chris Woollam is not a diet as such but a really useful and scientific review of the research evidence on cancer and food links - recommended to my mum by a nurse friend who has survived OC and is well several years on. It's a little bit of a scary read (no sugar for example, and I personally need my little treats so I haven't cut that out!) but well researched.

    Re: the fear of recurrence, I find seeing a counsellor really helps me. When you're afraid it's tempting to make radical changes (some of which no doubt may help) but counselling might support you through dealing with that fear you feel that the OC is going to come back. You've been through a very traumatic experience and it's natural to feel afraid, but sometimes a bit of support really helps.

    Lots of love

    Cat xxx

  • Hi Hayley

    I agree with the all the above comments, I was vegetarian for five years when I was in remission and only started eating meat when my oc came back and I needed more first class protein to deal with the chemo.

    But I have a very good butchers who can trace the provenance of the meat back to the farms where the animals were reared and slaughtered I do only buy organic chicken and organic free range eggs. I always buy organic root vegetables, but thoroughly wash and peel any other vegetables or fruit as the cost of going completley organic can be prohibitive.

    Do not be afraid of your oc coming back, mine has come back five times since 2001 and I am still plugging on, some oncologists are now looking at oc as a chronic disease to be managed long term, so if you are unfortunate for it to come back after a period of remission, do not give up hope, your oncologists will still have plenty of options.

    I attended the Penny Brohn centre in Bristol, and found it to be a very rewarding three days, my husband came with me and he said he found it life changing. They teach you not only good nutrition, but great ways to relax through meditation, visualisation, art etc but also you have the opportunity to speak to doctors, healers, dieticians on a one to one basis and meet great people going through the same experiences as yourself. My husband was worried he was going into a hippy meditation centre, but nothing could be further from the truth, the accommodation was beautiful and the building exudes a feeling of calm, you can go there for help anytime from being diagnosed, during treatment or after at any point, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    I hope this information has been some help to you, and the best of luck.

    Jazz xxx

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