old adage that "we are what we eat" is true on a biological level and
more important today than ever. Please choose food that is fresh,
local, organic; without pesticides, added hormones, antibiotics and
The Web is full of contradictory dietary advice, fad diets and "superfoods" and cancer patients often end up confused, frustrated and not sure what to eat.
They ask: Should I avoid all sugar? Should I become a vegetarian? Should I go on macrobiotic diet? There is no evidence that ANY of the diets touted as "cures" for cancer actually work. In fact patients who try most restrictive diets often end up feeling worse and losing weight, which compromises treatment of their malignancy.
The advice I give to my patients is to learn how to listen to their intuition. Our bodies know exactly what they need to thrive. There is one diet plan, however, that's both tasty and healthy - the Mediterranean diet, endorsed by many physicians. If that type of diet appeals to you, please click on the food pyramid image below for sample meal plans.
The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of
healthy eating, including fruits, vegetables, fish and
whole grains, and limiting unhealthy fats and meats. A meta-analysis of
of more than 1.5 million healthy adults found that the traditional
diet reduces not only the risk of heart disease but also overall
mortality. This diet is also associated with a reduced incidence of
cancer, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.
- Eat primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and
whole grains, legumes and nuts
Our natural instict to eat only healthy food is thwarted by our
life-long habits that favor sweets, fats, meat and salty snacks over
fruits and vegetables. Shelves of our grocery stores are filled with
highly processed food that often contains
pesticides, hormones or various chemicals that are meant to prevent the
food from spoiling, but may not be serving your health. Many of
unhealthy snacks and drinks are designed to be highly addictive.
How can you train your intuition to pick only the food that is healthy for you? A useful exercise is to visit a buffet restaurant, where you can see and smell all the dishes served there. Scan your body and note how you are feeling before eating. Pick ONLY A FEW of these dishes that you CRAVE, eat the food slowly and pay attention again to how does your body feel during the meal, immediately afterwards and for few hours after the meal.
If your favorite food, say carrots, causes problems, try eating it in different forms - raw, cooked, baked - and note the results of your experiments.
Always keep written notes of your dietary experiments and eat only the foods that make you feel good, avoiding ones that cause any indigestion or other untoward symptoms.
After a month or two of practicing this approach with all of your meals you will learn to follow your intuition and pick the food that helps you feel healthier and stronger.
If you feel so sick that you cannot hold food and need to boost your weight, try Ensure (sold in most pharmacies), or make your own protein shake (recipe below). You can make shakes with your own favorite flavors, since Ensure comes only in few varieties. These shakes can be diluted to just the right consistency. You can sip on a shake as a meal replacement and throughout the day when you are thirsty.
It is also very important to monitor your hydration status. When you are dehydrated, you do not feel well. Symptoms of dehydration include:
The easiest way to monitor your hydration status is to pay attention to the color and smell of your urine. When you are adequately hydrated, your urine is colorless, like water or only slightly yellow and has no noticeable smell. When you see that your urine is darker and has more intense smell, it is time to increase your hydration.