As I await the latest banana bread incarnation to emerge from my oven, willing it to taste good despite the addition of protein powder and the subtraction of sugar, it feels like I'm just beginning the food journey that has seen me try out shit like this over the past year and still hold out hope.
A wiser woman would say, "give it up - if you're gonna eat it, eat the good stuff", but I honestly don't see the "good stuff" as good anymore. I'm pretty close to realizing that I need to eat good stuff regularly, so I have to CSI some reasonable facsimiles wherever I can. Yes, it means I make some craptastic recipes sometimes, but the great big try continues.
One year ago I was recovering from my first chemo cocktail and diving into every book I could find on the link between cancer and nutrition. A few good ones below:
Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips
Crazy Sexy Diet
Fit for Life
The China Study
A Cancer Battle Plan
Juice Yourself Slim
Detox 4 Women
What to Eat if you Have Cancer
The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast Cancer
None of these books alone blew me away. I'm not the kind of gal who reads something and has an immediate and profound change of heart. I'm pretty measured in my beliefs and like to think about shit before I commit. And even then, I like the occasional guilt-free out. But I had to shift my mind to something proactive while I was waiting for the drugs o' death to do their work, so my mind was open back then and I was ready to imagine a new existence that would see me move beyond my 40s.
Since ingesting all the good and bad from those books and countless websites, discussion forums, videos and lectures, I feel closer to understanding how disease takes over any body and how to manage and ultimately curb that process.
Simply put, it's about eating your vegetables. And lots of 'em. But in that simple statement lives a crapload of work I've had to do around eating meat, dairy, sugar and white flour. I've cut out most of that stuff, but I do eat fish, some chicken and the odd piece of bacon and slice of cheese. I also eat a square of dark chocolate (a single square, mind) every freakin' day. Yes, I will die if I don't. It's in my contract.
And I feel not a shred of guilt about it when I do.
I have this ideal state of eating in my mind, based on all the research I've done, with these main points:
Veggie juice, water and green tea until noon
Raw until dinner (salads, nuts & seeds, olives, hummus)
Grains, protein & veg at dinner (heavy on the brown rice, beans & quinoa, lite on the potatoes)
High fiber in the evenings (fruit, muesli)
With this ideal state, I play the field a lot. But 95% of the time I stick to the first and last points (juice and muesli), which makes me feel better about the stuff in between.
I don't want to obsess. But I do want to continue to make progress. I ask for stuff at restaurants now (no cheese) plan my holidays differently, and think a bit more carefully about what I eat at parties, but I don't deny myself. If someone bakes a gigantic loaf of bread and gives me a knife and butter, I'll eat it and love every minute of it, but I don't do it every day.
We all know this is one big experiment and no one will know how it all turns out until I kick off and donate my bod to science. But in the meantime, I haven't had a cold in 9 months, my weight has reached the sweet spot where I don't have to think twice about calories or fat intake anymore and most days I have the energy of jackrabbit.
I'm definitely not done, though. There's the ongoing sugar addiction, there's the continuing challenge of getting enough iron, and there's that odd-smelling banana bread that has five minutes left in the oven.