In my blog post last week, I opened up about how breast cancer treatment and recovery helped me heal a distorted relationship with my body. Recovery is about so much more than physical health; addressing the emotional wounds underneath the cancer diagnosis is just as important when creating a holistic breast cancer prevention plan. Last week, I shared my deep emotional wounds that led in part to my own diagnosis and how being faced with cancer treatment helped me acknowledge some hard truths and make radical changes in my life. I hope that post resonated with you and if you haven’t had a chance to read it, I encourage you to go check it out! This week, I want to switch gears and focus on the physical body and address the role of nutrition in recovery. Now that I’m a holistic nutritionist, nutrition is quite possibly my favourite topic of conversation!
I learned about natural medicine when I was going through my radiation treatments and I began working with a wonderful naturopathic doctor who specialized in oncology. Immediately after working together, my energy level improved and I felt like I regained some control over my life. I absolutely loved seeing my naturopath, but I wanted to do more for myself in between our visits. I wanted to do more to take my power back and feel in control of my health, body, and life. So, I started to read voraciously; I immersed myself into books, medical journals, articles – anything I could get my hands on. The more I learned, the more I realized there was so much more to learn! I was frustrated that this life-changing information wasn’t easily accessible to the women who needed it most and I felt called to teach what I was learning to others. So, I left my career in accounting and enrolled in holistic school and never looked back!
My main goal in nutrition school was to learn what and how to eat to nourish and support my body and make it a place where cancer couldn’t survive. What I love about nutrition is that everyone can intuitively see and understand that what you eat affects your overall health and how you feel. We’ve all overeaten at a holiday meal and felt bloated afterward, we’ve all eaten something super sugary and had an energy crash a few hours later, and we’ve all missed a meal and felt that hanger and made poor eating choices. But, by the same token, we’ve also felt what it’s like to have energy, focus, and clarity when we eat well and get enough rest. We can all connect rather easily what we eat to how we feel and to our overall health. This is what empowered me to keep learning everything I could so that I could continually make my body a place where cancer couldn’t thrive and I could live without fear of recurrence. I showed up for myself everyday in the kitchen and I took my power back!
How I eat now is totally different than how I ate when I was first starting making nutritional changes. Like most things in life, this change was a process. I initially transitioned to eating a whole food/plant based vegan approach and I felt amazing eating this way! After eating this way for a couple years, I still felt great but I felt like I had only scratched the surface. When I went to nutrition school, I learned so much more about how foods react with and get processed in our bodies. I learned that we are all biochemically unique. As such, there’s no “right way” to eat to prevent a breast cancer recurrence, because each of us has our own unique body constitution that requires different nutrients in varying amounts in order to thrive. In school, we learned a lot about ancient healing modalities and one in particular that resonated with me was called Ayurvedic medicine which is the oldest form of medicine and it originated in India. According to Ayurvedic principles, I discovered that I have a body constitution that actually needs animal protein to be at my optimal level of health. I started incorporating some animal protein back into my diet and I immediately began to thrive in a way I never had before. When we eat in a way that is aligned with our highest selves – magic happens!
The point I really want to make here is this: there is absolutely no single right way to eat to prevent a breast cancer recurrence. If there was, we’d all be doing it and that information would be widely accessible and we’d all know about it! The reason why there is a ton of research supporting the anti-cancer benefits of a whole food plant based vegan approach, and a ton of research supporting the use of a ketogenic diet, and a ton of research supporting everything in between is because each of those approaches has worked for someone because we’re all different!
I know, it’s super frustrating right! We just want to know what to do so we can live our best lives and the information can be SO confusing! This is where the advice of a nutrition expert comes into play. The whole purpose of my job is to find the best way for you to eat. I help the women I work with identify the way to eat that is going to make them feel energized, alive, safe, and supported in her body. For me, this looks like a whole food paleo approach. I have clients that thrive on whole food plant based vegan, I also have clients that thrive on the keto diet. It really all depends on the person. My job is to ask the right questions and guide you to eat in a way that is going to serve your highest self and help you show up as the best version of you – for yourself and for your loved ones.
There are some commonalities among any beneficial anti-cancer nutrition plan. The goal of any plan should be to bring down inflammation, reduce acidity, boost immunity, and balance blood sugar. When any of these things are out of balance, it creates an internal environment where cancer can grow and spread. Regardless of whatever nutrition plan you choose to follow, all sound anti cancer nutrition plans will include copious amounts of vegetables (especially dark leafy greens), will avoid dairy, gluten, and processed foods, will reduce sugar intake, avoid processed meats, and be as whole and organic as possible.
What we eat is so important because it sets the foundation for our internal environment. When our internal environments are functioning optimally, it takes the stress off of our immune system and liver so we can fight off cancer cells and detox more effectively. Whether you are actively in treatment or well into thrivership, proper nutrition is essential. It really is the foundation of good health and preventive medicine. During treatment, the right nutrition plan can help alleviate side effects and boost the effectiveness of conventional treatment. After treatment, the right nutrition plan is an integral and essential part in recovery and thrivership. In both my own life and those of my clients, I use nutrition to help get your energy back, manage stress, balance hormones, adjust to life after cancer, and live your best life!
If you are confused about what to eat and would like support in this area, I encourage you to reach out to me. Changing the way I ate had the most powerful and profound impact on my overall health and wellbeing after breast cancer. It provided me with an outlet to take care of myself, show up for myself, and take my power back. I want nothing more in this world other than for you to reclaim your health, vitality, and live your best life after cancer. I absolutely love what I do, and it would be an honour and privilege to be a part of your healing journey.
I’d love to connect with you outside of this blog! If you have questions, comments, or want to hear more from me, connect with me on Instagram @Nutritious_Delicious_life, on facebook Nutritious Delicious Life, or through my website www.nutritiousdeliciouslife.com. Thank you for reading and I hope you walk away feeling inspired and empowered.
Until next time!
Written by: Lauren, Tigerlily ANGEL Advocate