Eating with cancer can be challenging, particularly while traveling. How does one cope?
It’s not always simple. Some parts of the country like the Pacific Northwest and California offer lots of healthy options. Fresh fish and produce; restaurants that cater to a health conscious clientele. I’ve found that as I travel south, local cuisine dominates. In the southwest, this often means more beans and rice, and fewer greens. Eating well is doable, but it can involve a bit of creativity and ingenuity.
Over the years I’ve learned that traveling and eating well with cancer means compromise. Every meal may not be organic; sometimes you just splurge (see the bread pudding picture from Sobu in New Orleans!); other times Thai is a good alternative that can include some vegetables and be dairy free. I’ve learned to be flexible and adaptive. It’s all good and it all works.
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” —George Bernard Shaw
People, food, flavors and tastes are always part of my travels. I am a “foodie”. I grew up in a food oriented family, traveling and always trying new dishes, tastes and flavors. I’m curious about the source of my food, about its history, about the techniques and preparation. I like markets, people with passion and the art of eating well. I love plates, silverware and all the accoutrements of dining. I cook, I eat, I entertain.
I simply love everything about food.
Cancer didn’t change this, but it refined my interests. During one round of chemo, I totally lost the ability to eat. It felt as if a vital life force had left my body.
And I realized that I had a new paradigm: Dealing with cancer and cancer treatment, every bite had to be focused on nutrition. I had to get the maximum amount of nutition possible into my body.
I’d never thought along these lines before. Nor had I ever questioned what I ate, or where it had come from. I ate what interested me, what made me curious or perhaps what was trending.
This foodie was in for a total food re-education.
My cancer is theoretically incurable; hopefully manageable. So I became VERY motivated to take charge of my health.
Studies have shown that our health and our genetic expression is impacted by our food choices, among other things. Dean Ornish, MD actually showed that lifestyle choices across four variables—food, exercise, stress management and social support—impact the up and down regulation of over 500 genetic variables!
Over 500 genetic variables!
So in addition to my foodie tendencies, I also became a student of food.
Traveling, my diet isn’t perfect, but I make the best choices I can. I look for vegetables and fresh fish. I go vegetarian whenever possible. Thai is often a good road food choice for me.
“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” —Julia Child
In spite of Julia’s admonition regarding cream, I stay away from dairy. (Except for a bit of cheese. Life without cheese, I decided during my vegan phase, just isn’t worth living!)
What is Healthy Eating?
This will vary a bit for each of us. We’re all different and have different physiolgies, food memories and preferences, but basically you want to strive for a low glycemic, vegetable rich diet.
In short, eat real food!
Eat seasonally and locally. Locally grown food will retain more of its nutrients since it doesn’t travel as far. This will vary with the food type. Potatoes, for example, are pretty robust. Vegetables with higher respiration rates such as mushrooms and asparagus lose their nutrients more quickly.
If you eat meat, buy grass fed. The flavor is a bit different and may take some adjustment, but its Omega 6 to Omega 3 balance is much healthier than that of mass raised livestock.
If you buy anything packaged, read the label. Look for sugar; it’s high glycemic and added to the majority of prepared foods. Get the gratuitous sugar out of your diet; you’ll actually have more energy!
If you think change is too daunting, don’t despair.
Try just one new food, flavor or idea a week. If you like it keep it. If you don’t move on. You’ll be surprised at how many new foods (think vegetables and grains) you’d be happy to have in your diet!
New Foodie Galleries are in the works, so check back. There’s so much more to come!
I hope you enjoy these pictures, and even more, I hope you choose to learn more about your own culinary choices and the health of the food we all consume.
Foodie Books and Films
To be enjoyed with a side of good food and perhaps a glass of wine!
FORKS OVER KNIVES examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called “diseases of affluence” that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed; by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods.
What The Fork Are You Eating?
When your groceries are labeled “low-fat,” “sugar-free,” and even “natural” and “antibiotic-free,” it’s easy to assume that you’re making healthy choices. Yet even some of those seemingly wholesome offerings contain chemical preservatives, pesticides, and artificial flavors and coloring that negatively affect your health. In What the Fork Are You Eating?, a practical guide written by certified chef and nutritionist Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN, we learn exactly what the most offensive ingredients in our food are and how we can remove (or at least minimize) them in our diets. Sacks gives us an aisle-by-aisle rundown of how to shop for healthier items and create simple, nutritious, and delicious meals, including fifty original recipes.
This is simply the number one book I recommend to everyone about the scientific rational for healthy living. It was my bible of healthy living as I sought to re-make my life in the face of cancer. The combination of science based fact with a riveting personal story is unbeatable and inspirational.
David Servan-Schreiber was a rising neuroscientist with his own brain imaging laboratory when, in the middle of an equipment test, he discovered a tumor the size of a walnut in his own brain. Forced to confront what medicine knows about cancer, and all that we still do not know, Servan-Schreiber marshaled his will to live and set out to understand the complex inner workings of the body’s natural cancer-fighting capabilities. He soon found himself on a decades-long journey from disease and relapse into scientific exploration and, finally, a new view of health.
The revolutionary, New York Times bestselling guide to the powerful lifestyle changes that fight and prevent cancer—an integrative approach based on the latest scientific research
“A common-sense blueprint for healthy living.” —Chicago Tribune
“Resonating with cancer support communities and recommended nationwide.” —Los Angeles Times
“Life affirming . . . filled with practical advice.” —The Seattle Times
And for a bit of fun:
Other Foodie Posts:
Ana Pacheco and Jambo Cafe Kick Off Restaurant Week in Santa Fe
Warming Up to Restaurant Week In Santa Fe
The Irish Food Movement in the Beara Peninsula
Culinary Travel Karma
Travel Lessons: Oysters and Whatnot
Like this post? Pin it!
Love to eat? Like to cook? I hear you! Check out Cooking with MasterClass.
Learn from stars like Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, Alice Waters and more.
Can’t decide? Get a MasterClass All-Access Pass and take as many classes as you like!
What is #CancerRoadTrip and how did it come to be? Read this post to get the backstory!