The Healing Journal
Taking Control of Your Journey Through Cancer

Food for Life - Fit for Life

Its no wonder at all, given the many different beliefs and practices in medicine,  that health as simple as it really should be, is actually a complicated issue.  Eastern practices vs. Western; traditional vs. modern; herbs vs. drugs – we can complicate it even further by adding religious beliefs, lifestyle factors and genetics.  My disease is not your disease even though they may be called the same thing and be at the same stage.   And as I say in my book “The confusing and sometimes frustrating part is when it feels like every news broadcast issues yet another warning about a food that previously was supposed to be good for you.”  But no matter which health care practitioner you speak with, regardless of their teachings, will all tell you that to prevent cancer and to aid in your recovery from treatment, you should eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and low on fat & sugar, exercise regularly and live a healthy lifestyle. 

I always find that the truth is somewhere in the middle - perhaps this is the same thing.  Perhaps these commonalities in approach and belief are the cord that runs through it all.  The main, somewhat simplified factors to health.   Those things which we should all be doing every day to protect and honour this body we have. 

I’m saddened when I see on TV or in a magazine a “quick fix” approach to health, be it a pill or super powder or an exercise gimmick.  I’m saddened because I know that hundreds of thousands of people all over the world will jump to it and waste their money on something that a) may be dangerous for them, and b) may not work.   There are no shortcuts to good health.   Hard work, will power and determination are the keys but I promise you, they’re worth it!! 

In my book The Healing Journal:  Taking Control of Your Journey Through Cancer,  in the section called ‘Healing Strategies’, I discuss a number of different strategies for health and healing that have little or nothing to do with modern medicine, diet and exercise are two of them.  These are so crucial to our physical and mental wellbeing.    When we don’t eat properly we don’t give our bodies the nutrients they need to provide energy, ward of disease, heal and grow.  When we don’t exercise enough we don’t get enough oxygen, our muscles begin to break down, we feel more lethargic, and daily activities become more difficult.  Eating properly and exercising regularly aid in energy, stress management, sleep patterns, mood, weight control, organ health….I could go on.   

  I’m always in awe when I take a seed and plant it in rich soil, water it, give it sunshine and watch it         
  grow.   I love to see the plants grow and almost dance in the sun as the buds begin to open and
  beautiful blooms filled with colour present themselves to the world.  It really is a beautiful thing.   Healthy
  food and regular exercise have the same affect on our bodies – allowing them to be the best they can be,
  their beautiful selves.  Don’t water the flower and it will die.  Don’t nurture your body and disease will set
  in.  If you have genetic factors that predispose you to a certain disease then living a more healthy life will
  be an important factor in managing the risks. 

  So, I told you that the common threads are eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and living a healthy
  lifestyle.  I encourage you to read the information on my 'Life Balance' page of this website and actively
  work to bring that balance into your life.  That will be a huge first step in making the changes you need to
  accomplish optimum health – physical and mental as you learn how interrelated the factors of our lives
  are.   For those of you who are currently in treatment, those of us that are cancer survivors or anyone else who suffers from a chronic disease, in my opinion, this is not optional.  What is the goal?  To live, right?  In that case, what are you waiting for?  Whether you are currently in treatment, in remission or are completely cured the following steps apply to you:

Step 1:  Read to understand and absorb the 'Balanced Life Concept' and determine where and how you can/should make some important changes in your life, starting today!

Step 2:  CONSULT YOUR PRIMARY PHYSICIAN &/OR ONCOLOGIST.  It is imperative that you talk to your doctor about your health and your plans.

  • Talk to him or her about your diet.  Are there foods you should be eating or avoiding?   Between food allergies and food – drug interactions, one person’s super food may be another person’s poison.   
  • Talk to him or her about exercise.  Given your present condition, are there exercises you can do, should do or should avoid?  What amount and type of exercise is right for you? 
  • Talk to him or her about supplements.  There are so many types of vitamins and minerals and other supplements out there.  Quite frankly some don’t work at all and I’ve come to believe that you get what you pay for.  Talk to your doctor and get their opinion on which supplements are safe for you to take and which ones they recommend.   

Step 3:  Create a plan for healthy eating.  I hesitate to call it a diet plan because it’s not necessarily about weight loss and its not a short term challenge.  This is a food for life plan, one that will bring optimum health to your body within your likes, dislikes, restrictions and religious beliefs.   Basic premises:  eat lots of vegetables; choose foods that are rich in antioxidants, high fibre, low fat, low sugar.  Try new foods and recipes.  Make it fun!  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of  books written on healthy foods and recipes.  I’ve listed a number of my personal favourites below but a search on Chapters/Indigo or Amazon will give you many more options.

Step 4:  Create a plan for incorporating regular exercise into your life.  Depending on whether or not you are currently in treatment you will be cleared to do anything from a bare minimum (like leg stretches in bed) to the skies the limit.  A word of caution – listen to your body!!  Admittedly I am the worst one for this.  Now two years post bone-marrow transplant and I still tire very easily and ‘overdoing it’ comes far too quickly.  I want my whole life back so badly that I tend to challenge my body a bit too much and then I pay for it.  I am learning to listen to my body and as my doctor keeps telling me, “small, regular increments are more beneficial than doing too much and then doing nothing”.   So take your doctor’s advice, look at the types of exercise you like to do, take into account your limitations and then come up with your personal fit for life plan.  Again I’ve listed a number of helpful books below, and again this is a small sampling of what is available. 

Step 5:  Activate, Analyze & Revise as needed.  Put your plans into action and analyze every so often.  What’s working for you and what isn’t.  Make changes as needed and keep going.  This is about a healthy lifestyle not a temporary fix.  

Living your best life means among other things eating foods that give your body what it needs to restore, heal and protect.  It means giving your body exercise, bringing oxygen to your cells and building strength.  It means protecting the life we have as best as we can, for as long as we can.  Every day is a treasured gift.  Handle with care!

"Food & exercise nourish my body the way that love nourishes my soul.~ Lynda Peterson

Recommended Reading - Nutrition

Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal Revised and Updated:  The Best and Worst Choices to Treat Your Ailments Naturally
by Reader's Digest

**This is a new edition coming out in Dec. 2012  I have the 2006 edition and love it! 

Foods That Fight Cancer:  Preventing Cancer Through Diet
by Richard Beliveau

**This is one of my all time favourite books.  It is beautifully laid out with tons of information.

Cooking With Foods that Fight Cancer
by Richard Beliveau and Denis Gingras

American Cancer Society's Complete Guide To Nutrition for Cancer Survivors
by Abby S. Bloch PhD RD, Barbara Grant MS RD CSO LD, Kathryn K. Hamilton MA RD CDN CSO and Cynthia A. Thomson PhD RD

Crazy, Sexy Diet:  Eat Your Veggies, Ignite Your Spark, and Live Like You Mean It
by Kris Carr

Healthy Eating Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Friendship and Healthy Living
by American Cancer Society

Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes With The  38 Healthiest Ingredients
by The Editors of Whole Living Magazine

"With Organization Comes Empowerment"  ~ Lynda Peterson

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