My Outlook on Food Post-Cancer

How’s your week going everyone? Scott and I and the kids have headed out of town for a summer vacation and I’m just settling into relaxation mode! We’re looking forward to some beach time, exploring new restaurants and coffee shops, maybe taking in a ball game and just doing the “chill” thing!

Considering we might go to a ball game which is synonymous with KETTLE CORN, this post’s timing might be a little ironic ha! But…maybe it’s not the worst because we’re all about keeping it real and honest. Right?!?

In the last couple of months, I’ve had a number of you ask what food changes we’ve made in our household since the whole cancer thing. If there’s anyone reading this that is new, I went through breast cancer in 2015…you can read about it here or I also shared a bit of my story on video here. I also wrote about some of the changes our family has experienced through the process…but hadn’t talked about how and if our views on food had changed.

Not surprisingly, an illness can make a person want to make big changes. Interestingly, many of the foods that I banned from the kitchen right away didn’t really stick. Others were more of a slow evolution and because of the slow morph, it just feels like a new normal.  Before I go further, I would be so incredibly re-miss if I said that we don’t indulge. Life is life and we do the best we can. We enjoy food and many of our social interactions take place around a dinner table!

Upon getting my cancer diagnosis, I immediately started looking at food differently and almost obsessively. I wondered if I had inadvertently allowed cancer into my life. I worried hugely about that and then about my family and what they had been eating. Had I completely dropped the ball on something so important? When I look back at those first few weeks and months, there is a realization that I was struggling to be in control of something (when everything else felt super out of control) and food seemed a good place to position that control.

Sugar was the first and most obvious change. On the recommendation of a naturopath, we cut out all sugar. In any form. Honey, maple syrup…it was all “poison”. It was drastic. Bottom line, it was hard. Really hard. And that total ban just didn’t feel sustainable. Over time, that early on boycott relaxed and I gained more of an understanding of what sugars are truly “evil”  (aka refined sugar) and what kind of sweeteners were my best choices..and choices I could feel some peace about. I opt to bake using honey/maple syrup/dates/applesauce as often as possible. I know there’s so much controversy over this, but it seems do-able to use as little refined sugar as possible, but still live life. Guys, you can’t say no to a Fuzzy Peach…right?!?

Meats, poultry and fish. Considering that my cancer was hormonally related (estrogen fed), I was really concerned about the hormone/steroid component in these proteins. The change to being extremely careful and vigilant about where I purchased meats, poultry and fish and how they are raised/what they are fed is one that I have never looked back on. Again, I know the views are wide on this, but I feel like being diligent is the best I can do for my family. And gives me a measure of peace.

Canned goods. My pantry used to be stocked to the brim with them. I don’t think I made an actual decision to be wary of them, but I do think that making a change to eat healthier organically led to less canned items. There are still staples…canned tomatoes, etc but it’s just kinda an interesting evolution to note. Eating as fresh as possible means just that. Less preserved food is the result.

Carbs. Ohhh this is the tricky one! We’re all taught that bread is the evil one ha!  What I have learned through some nutritional guidance is that we need carbs. It’s our energy source! It’s choosing good carbs versus the not so good ones. Beans, grains, legumes, nuts are all items that are now used freely in our home….interesting because all my life I viewed them as BAD. The lens has had to be shifted on the carb front.

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest, looking for new recipes..ones that are based on cooking/baking with whole foods. Scott has been known to say that if it tastes good, it’s not good for you! Ha! I’m going to disagree…and I hope if you actually asked him to answer honestly, he might just agree. The recipes are plentiful. We eat a ton of “bowl” type meals where there’s a mixture of a carb, veggies and proteins. The sauces/dressings I make are comprised of more healthful fats, fresh herbs etc. We eat lots of fresh salsas and hummus!

I started purchasing the bulk of my groceries from Spud. There were a number of things that led me to start doing this: The concept of Spud is that they work to carry local, sustainable and organic products. It’s an online service and they deliver right to your doorstep. Kind of a game changer for me on so many levels…this isn’t an ad but worth me sharing. Meal planning not only saves so much time and angst but I purchase what I need…not a bunch of impulse buys. I’m able to read all of the ingredients on labels online, see where the groceries are coming from and just be more educated about what I’m putting on the table!

So…all this to say. I am no expert. This is merely me sharing what changes we have made. I guess the easiest and simplest way to encapsulate our mantra is: If God created it, we’ll eat it! We do the best we can. We also enjoy food and the time spent sharing it with family and friends…and if that means that I eat a cookie I am working to feel less guilt and more acceptance that I’m human.  The goal is not to be a skinny girl (that will happen in heaven!) but to be strong and healthy. Realistic.

Have any of you made huge food changes in your life? I’d love to hear what works for you and why you made the change!

If you’ve made it to here, thank YOU for reading! It means a great deal to me:) The chance to have conversation about these things is such a great way of learning more from each other! Which is why I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Wishing you all a super sunny weekend! Laurel xo