At Living Beyond Breast Cancer, we encourage women affected my breast cancer to stay informed and up-to-date with all the information they can on taking care of their mind and bodies while going through treatment. In fact, we feel it is important that no matter what stage you might be in–newly diagnoses, in-treatment, remission or recovery–your health and nutrition is paramount. Today at the LBBC blog, we welcome Annette Ramke, a certified health coach and cancer survivor, as she shares how eating “Real Food” made all the difference to her.
For anyone who has ever heard the words, “You have cancer,” life as hereto known begins to crumble. Suddenly, thrown into Cancer World you are left reeling and attempting to figure out: What do I do now? Medical doctors have one set of recommendations about what needs to happen and this usually involves some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. But stuck in this life-or-death situation, you want to know: What else is there? There has to be more I can do to up my chances of beating this crummy disease. There is.
Unless you are lucky enough to be treated in a center which takes an integrative approach to cancer from the get-go, you are unlikely to find any other ideas coming from those whose primary goal is treating your cancer. But you can put together your own integrative and holistic Cancer-Kicking Team, which may include complementary and alternative (CAM) modalities and practitioners in addition to conventional docs and approaches. Everything from acupuncture to Reiki to meditation and beyond can be supportive in physical, mental and spiritual ways during your cancer journey. But there is another important and powerful Team member, often neglected, which I would encourage you to include: Real Food.
By Real Food I mean a whole food, plant-based diet. Such a diet is anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-kicking. Focusing on filling your plate with vegetables in an array of colors, whole grains like quinoa, millet and brown rice and plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils and fermented soy products give your body the nutrients, fiber and phytochemicals it needs to heal faster, stay strong during treatment, and bounce back more quickly.
When I changed the way I viewed what I was putting into my body while going through cancer; when I focused on crowding out the processed foods, simple carbs and sugary drinks; when I added in life-giving leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, mighty miso and great, whole grains, I steadily and very noticeably experienced greater well being, more energy and better moods than I had ever before, while in the midst of cancer treatment! My family, friends and doctors were amazed at how well I was doing. Could what I put on my plate have that big of an impact. In a word: yes!
For those working on prevention of or recovery from cancer, real food can play a huge role in maintaining and regaining health. In a world in which so much is, to a great extent, out of our control – like our genetics and the environment at large – what we put on our plates and hence into our bodies is a decision over which we do have control. It is something we can take into our own hands and use to support our health and well-being. When framed this way, getting into your kitchen to cook a meal changes from being a dreaded chore to a radical act of self-care.
Whether you are facing cancer, or working to prevent it, I would empower you to discover the delicious, cancer-kicking goodness of real food!
Annette Ramke, CHHC, is a certified health coach and breast cancer survivor. She took an integrative approach to treatment and focused on a whole food, plant-based diet. She recently co-authored a book (with Kendall Scott, CHHC), Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend’s Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer, which will be published October 2. Learn more at KickingCancerInTheKitchen.com!