When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back, I struck back and took control of my health. My early stage cancer had not spread. So, instead of following the traditional one-size-fits-all protocol of chemotherapy and radiation, I decided to dedicate myself to nurturing my body and my health.
I stepped back and took a good look at my diet and lifestyle. What I thought had been a healthy diet, because I was a vegan, was surprisingly not as healthy as I had thought. Even though I was not consuming animal products, I was consuming quite a bit of processed foods that were lacking in the nutritional elements my body needed to fight off disease and repair. I learned that high fructose corn syrup and refined sugars and flours were not keeping my body healthy.
Since my cancer diagnosis was a kick in the butt for me. I used the opportunity to go cold turkey on processed junk foods. I eliminated all of the foods that I felt were making me sick and went back to nature.
I went on a raw food diet and consumed only raw organic foods. I spent hours in the kitchen each day preparing delicious, ultra-nutritious raw recipes. Consulting with raw food cookbooks, I created some amazingly healthy meals. The first week or so of eating this way was difficult. My body went into sudden detox mode. This caused me awful migraine headaches and fatigue. But, I was determined. And, you know what? After I came through on the other side, I felt great. I felt better than I had ever felt in my life.
I stuck with the raw food regime for several months. During this time, the migraines that plagued me for my whole life all but disappeared. The sinus congestion I had been dealing with since childhood vanished. The difficult menstrual cycle I had each month with severe cramping and PMS was gone too. Typically, I would have a week’s notice that my period was on its way. The mood, the little aches and pains, the headache. My new lifestyle incredibly eliminated all of this. It got to the point where I had absolutely no symptoms when I got my period. What was going on? I could not believe that the foods that I was eating before were causing me so much trouble. I never knew I could feel so good.
The problem was this lifestyle was exceedingly time consuming. When I started the raw food regime, I had been unemployed. I had the time to dedicate to fixing my daily meals. When it was time for me to go back to work, I was terrified that I would not be able to keep up with this lifestyle. And, sadly, I wasn’t. While I remained dedicated to a new, healthy lifestyle, I had to add cooked foods into my diet. I added back soy and a small amount of wheat to round things out. And, slowly, the migraines reared their head again. The menstrual symptoms came back with a bam. I still felt good, but not euphoric, yes euphoric, as I had on raw food alone.
It became clear that foods were the culprit of the issues that I had come to accept as “normal.” But what was it in the cooked foods causing me so much trouble? Some blood testing by my doctor revealed that I had strong sensitivities to soy, wheat, corn, apple, dairy and eggs. While I had completely eliminated the dairy and eggs from my diet when I made my total lifestyle change and hadn’t added them back, I had added quite a bit of soy and a bit of wheat back to my diet following the initial all raw period.
I was shocked at this revelation. I immediately eliminated these products from my diet again. And what do you know? The headaches vanished. And, I started to feel great again.
This brought on yet another revelation. I don’t have to eat all raw foods to feel good. A diet abundant in raw foods plus some cooked foods that consist of whole grains (but no gluten), veggies and occasional wild caught fish kept me feeling great with no symptoms. And, my cancer has not recurred to date.
When I was focused on only raw foods, I found some great restaurants in New York City. Living in the suburbs about 35 miles outside, I was limited as to how often I could indulge. Plus, one of the raw food restaurants that my husband and I came to love closed down leaving much more expensive options. Since, I couldn’t adopt the chef of this restaurant and have him come live with us and prepare all of my raw vegan meals, I had to come up with a workable solution to all of my food sensitivities.
Three years out, 40 pounds down and aware of the food offenders, I was armed with the knowledge I needed to keep my diet at the level it needed to be. The weight loss I experienced was not intentional either. It was a side effect of eating
the most healthy foods. I have a big appetite and I can tell you that I can have a huge plate of food and not gain weight. But, it has to be the right food. It took time and tweaking, but I feel really good about my diet now. I feel like I have come to an understanding with my body. And, I have come to realize that I don’t need those other foods that were not good for me.
Anybody can change their lives for optimal health. I will not say that it is not challenging, but I will say that it is worth it. It is worth it to feel as good as I do. It is worth it to feel confident that cancer will not rear its head again. It is worth it to eat the best and the healthiest foods around.