Like many women, I've always had a love-hate relationship with food. We love the taste and emotional balm of comfort foods like chocolate and mashed potatoes and fried chicken. But we hate the results of overindulging that are so apparent in the mirror and so magnified in our minds.
Only when a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma changed my life at the age of just 24 did I begin to view food as something more than a gift for my taste buds, a companion for loneliness or an initiator of guilt. Suddenly, food was a tool to help me fight my disease and nutrition was the fuel to keep me healthy.
According to Dr. Paul Reilly, a naturopathic oncologist at Salish Cancer Center and co-author of the book How to Treat and Prevent Cancer Through Natural Medicine, “Nutrition plays a powerful role in the body’s ability to both ward off disease and to recover when illness strikes. Proper eating also helps cancer patients better manage the side effects of medical treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and prescription drugs.”
For people like me, who discovered the importance of nutrition after a cancer diagnosis, my new relationship with food included such common-sense practices as eating more vegetables and fruits and decreasing my consumption of red meats and chemically-processed foods. Depending on the type of cancer someone has, nutritional advice may also include eliminating sugar from the diet or significantly increasing specific vitamins or minerals.
For people hoping to prevent the disease, here are some tips from Dr. Reilly’s book that can help:
Today, I am cancer-free and training for a marathon to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society! I still indulge occasionally in my favorite not-so-healthy treats, but my nutritional balance is weighted toward cancer-fighting foods that will help me enjoy a longer, happier, more active life.
For more information on the benefits of an integrated approach to cancer care-combining medical oncology with nutrition, naturopathy, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese Medicine – contact Salish Cancer Center.