Confessions of a Yoyo-ing Health Food Convert

28 Feb

February 28, 2012

(Note: A dear friend said he found the following blog entry “more than a little obsessive.”  My initial reaction was embarrassment.  I immediately wanted to delete the post.  However, I’m going to leave this up here  because it’s real.  For those fighting cancer who are educated and somewhat health-conscious, there is a tendency to get obsessive about the foods we put in our body.  It’s one thing  we do have control over and, as research shows, it definitely can make a difference.  So the upshot is, obsessive or not, I feel this is an important blog and I’m keeping it.)

Let me assure you that I’ve always been a fan of healthy eating (aside from when I was a child and didn’t know better – eating Lebanon baloney on white bread for lunch every day, along with a Tastycake for dessert.)  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that eating “foods” that have very little actual food left in them (but tons of additives) are not really good for you. I may not have been as healthy as some of the slim vegetarian yoga aficionados we see trotting around in Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but I certainly knew how to cook a good healthy meal with real food, brown rice, veggies, etc.  However, I do confess that I became much more lax the last decade or so.

Like many people who have busy lives, taking the time to prepare healthy food was not always among the top contenders on my to-do list.   I began eating out more, and more and more often, I am quite embarrassed to say, I would resort to fast food figuring that anything was better than nothing and at least  I’d have some protein or carbs to keep me going energy-wise.  (I hasten to add that I now know that I was deluding myself big-time with that theory.)

Having a cancer scare quickly makes one take stock of delusional thinking like that.  I got myself back on board quickly!  I knew I needed to be more vegetarian.  While vegetarians may not necessarily agree that the vegetarian lifestyle can include the words “more” or “less,” for me it made sense to aspire to the lifestyle without having to be a complete and total purist.

I consider myself fairly well educated in general, and specifically with regard to nutritional issues, I am probably more well-read than most.  However there’s nothing like the big C word to make one read a bit more voraciously on the topic. I quickly learned that there were foods that were not only generally healthy, but specifically important in the fight against cancer.  I strove to incorporate as many of them as possible.

Living in a vegetarian household for which I have agreed to prepare a fairly large percentage of the dinners has helped me to eat quite well for several days of the week. Consider, for instance, my diet today:

  • For breakfast:  Smoothie – almond milk, homemade hormone-free yogurt, kale, half an organic banana, and a teaspoon of organic peanut butter.
  • For lunch: Sesame tofu stir fry with local cabbage, organic onions, organic carrots, and daikon, seasoned with lots of cancer-fighting turmeric, some garlic, and a couple dashes of tamari.  Brown rice cooked in organic vegetable broth.
  • For dinner:  Red lentils cooked in organic vegetable broth and seasoned with turmeric and coriander.  Salad with organic baby greens, shredded cabbage, local organic micro-greens, shredded organic carrots, diced daikon, cucumbers, zucchini, and local organic watercress.  Dressed with olive oil and organic lemon seasoned with tarragon and marjoram.
  • For snacks: One small square of dark chocolate, off-the-charts in anti-oxidants.  A gluten-free peanut butter cookie.

Not bad, right?  I confess, even I was impressed with today’s feast.

Now let me confess to you yesterday’s diet:

  • Small smoothie (See above.)
  • 2 chicken tenders (prepared by Carversville General Store.)
  • One bottle Snapple Peach Tea.
  • Mug of blackberry tea.
  • Brown rice with dribble of chicken drippings.
  • Blanched broccoli.
  • 3 slices of whole grain bread with butter.
  • Purified water.
  • Homemade unsweetened iced tea.
  • 2 large helpings of salad (See above, but without the daikon, carrot, or watercress.)
  • 2 1/2 pieces of iced carrot cake (with only a modest amount of carrot observed in it.)
  • Fairly good-sized bowl of microwave popcorn (with very little butter in it.)
  • Bowl of homemade (by friend’s son Adam) soup with chicken, carrots, rice, and seasoned with sesame oil.

Well, on second thought, that may not be too horrifying, but I confess to feeling no small amount of guilt about the cake and the Snapple.  (I did enjoy both though.  I did, I did.)  Plus, although I don’t have a problem with butter specifically, this was not organic butter and so it no doubt contained the hormones that are very uncool for someone with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer issues to ingest.   The chicken may have had been raised in an unhealthy corporate farm as well.

And while one day like yesterday is not a huge deal, I am chagrined to confess that it followed a week of some indulgence.  I was out of town for 3 days last week. Those of you who travel can attest that it is much harder to eat healthfully when one is on the road.

In the car ride to the destination, I did eat a couple of delicious locally grown apples (from Solebury Orchards) and snack on things like organic nachos, nuts, and rice thins.  And for the first lunch from the small buffet at corporate headquarters I had egg salad on half a piece of whole grain bread with lettuce, spring water, and fresh fruit salad.  But that night at a wonderful and very fine Italian restaurant I did allow myself one piece of bruschetta, two fried risotto balls, a salad, and half of a large plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  (Oh was it ever good.  It was really, really good.)  And the next day I had, among other things, the rest of the spaghetti, the dessert I’d taken home (the best and lightest cheesecake I’ve ever, ever had), and, on the road, some local candied pecans.

Perhaps you’re thinking, Cindy, this is not such a big deal. You are allowed to eat real food that doesn’t look like it was prepared at an ashram.  The problem is: once you’ve had a cancer scare, you tend to be a bit more nervous about what you do and don’t eat.  I have several friends who’ve had breast cancer who were/are MUCH more disciplined about their food intake. One dear friend was so afraid to put anything non-organic or unhealthy in her mouth that she was literally afraid to eat for a couple months.  Another ate a strictly macrobiotic meal the whole time she was getting treatments – even taking containers of the “good stuff” with her to parties and social gatherings.  Another friend is able to refrain from putting a single piece of cheese in her mouth.  Her boyfriend confirms that she does not veer from healthy eating.  Ever.  Sadly, I don’t seem capable (yet) of such discipline.

Here is the test to see whether I’ve gone too far off-balance.  A couple days ago I finally received in the mail some pH strips with which to test the alkaline/acid balance of my body.  For those who don’t know, disease of any kind has a much harder time getting a foothold in an alkaline environment.  Sadly, most Americans are way on the acidic side.  I was eager to see how my body was doing.

I returned from my trip on Thursday night.  The next morning I found the mail carrier had delivered my package of pH strips while I was gone. I eagerly opened it and went to take a pee so I could test it out.  The result?  I was one step below the target alkaline range.   In other words, I was acidic, but on the lowest end of the acidic scale. I was pleased.  After a couple days of indulgence, I was close to the alkaline zone.  I could get back on track, I was sure.

The next day, I had the same exact reading.  Okay, so taking my supplements and getting back on track for one day was not going to be enough.  I tried to make up for it by eating lots of salads that day, even though I was out and about and not at home. I began the day with a smoothie and by the time I finally had time for lunch, I was ravenous.  So in addition to a salad, I had another Peach Snapple, some baked potato crisps, a bit of tunafish, and two gluten-free peanut butter cookies.  For dinner I had a Caesar salad (light on dressing, no added cheese) with wonderful grilled chicken.   I was only halfway good. And the accumulation of all of the past days’ dietary digressions led to a more seriously acidic reading this morn.

Let me add here that part of the reason for my added anxiety about my diet is that about two months ago I had asked a professional intuitive/channel whom I know if I was “doing enough” to stay cancer-free.   What she was told was that I was on the right track but that I needed to focus on staying alkalinized. (I knew the importance of alkalinization from my research as well.)

This is why I’m sharing with you the monotony of my dietary dealings.  I want you to learn from me!   If you want to be healthy, stay alkalinized and eat healthy!  Lots and lots and lots of greens, lots of veggies, lots of salads and raw foods. You can do it!  And hopefully, in another month or two, I will be more consistently on track and a living, breathing, beautifully energetic and radiant model of glowing health.

Thanks for listening.  Be well, friends!

PS  In the afternoon on the 29th and in the morning  on March 2, I made it into the “green zone!”   The green colors on the color scale of the pH strips indicate one is in  the alkaline zone.  The optimal  zone is 6.75 to 7.5.  I was there twice! YAYYYYY!!!!

PS2  (Added March 3, 2012)  Rather than write a separate entry, I decided  to add a postscript to this blog.  If anyone thought I didn’t misbehave too badly diet-wise (above), let me assure you, I really really really did last night and this morn.   There will be no dispute about how far off my healthy eating plan I fell.

Let me confess.  I began the morning well – leftover brown rice with spinach and almonds plus red lentils, followed shortly thereafter by one organic egg (from the chickens who live on my property) with red onion, goat cheese and herbs.  I also made a big pot of vegetable soup, but only ate about a cup of it.   All well and good, right?

Well about 3 hours later I remembered the Breyers chocolate ice cream my housemate  had in the freezer.  I indulged in not one, but TWO bowls of it.  (Oh my, it was good.)

Four hours later I am ravenous.  Of course.  I’ve waited way too long for my next good meal.  And  when that happens, look out.

I was craving something salty and crunchy and I had nothing.   So I went to the grocery store and debated between several options before getting a bag of Herr’s popcorn, which my companion and I began eating as  we walked through the store. Then the subject of (yes, I am in confession mode, I have to tell you) McDonald’s came up.  And we ended up going and I had a $1.00 double cheeseburger, a small fries, AND an apple pie.  The only thing I DIDN’T do wrong  was have a small cup of unsweetened iced tea.

Oh, it’s not over, friends.  This morning I got up early and decided to join my parents on their weekly Saturday breakfast out.  They chose Perkins.  Perkins does not have too many healthy options.  I looked over the menu and the only thing that was calling to me was… pancakes.  Ay yay yay, Cindy.  White flour is soooo not good for me.  It makes me bloat.   Syrup is sooo not good for me.  (Or for fighting cancer.   Simple sugars like syrup actually feed cancers.)  (I did have a side of fresh fruit cup.)

And ya know what?  I notice my physical energy is low today.  When I eat healthy food, my energy is usually pretty good.  But I can officially vouch for the fact that junk food, fast food, carbs and sugars will deplete your energy!  Guilt is one thing (and yes, of course I feel it), but low energy is another.  Perhaps I will eventually remember that when I eat this kind of thing  the feel good part is only temporary!  Then I crash energy-wise.

I  obviously can’t do anything about the crap I put into my body the last  twelve hours or so.  But what I can do is eat lots of soup and salad today.  I will also drink lots of water and take extra drops of my detoxifier.   (Pure Body.  Go to http://ToYourHealth.MyTouchstoneEssentials.com)  I also need to  take a long walk and get some extra  exercise and fresh air.

Back on track.  That’s all I can do – get back on track and resolve to go longer before falling off the wagon next time.  I know myself well enough that I won’t be able to be a total purist any time soon, if ever.  But I can go for longer periods before any indulgences….

Please disregard my lapses, dear body.  I want what’s best for you.  I will try to consider your needs more diligently next time!

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6 Responses to “Confessions of a Yoyo-ing Health Food Convert”

  1. Christine O. July 9, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    This is so interesting to me! I googled healthy diet for DCIS and your blog came up. (I have DCIS) I’ve been trying to eat healthy. For a couple weeks I went cold turkey on most things and became vegan. Then I backed off a bit and just ate mostly like a vegetarian. (I eat fish sometimes, and have cream in my one cup of coffee). I try to eat salad each day and smoothies (I do almond milk, spinach, frozen blueberries, organic banana and sometimes strawberry). Also I juice veggies. I think thats probably the most important thing (yet the one I find hardest to accomplish). Anyways thought i’d drop a hello and will check in to read your blog again:)

    • cindygreb July 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Hey Christine! I’m so glad you’ve changed your diet! I’m impressed you were able to go cold turkey. (Our smoothies are almost exactly alike, btw, although I try to use kale or collard greens instead of spinach, when I can.) How are you doing otherwise? May all go well for you.

  2. Christine O. July 10, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    I juiced kale this morning with a bit of romaine and apples….it tasted bad. I can’t remember my original green juice “recipe” as I used to like it! Im not doing great mentally…tomorrow is my post op. after my 3rd surgery. (wide excision). My incision has been bleeding yesterday and today (after removing the steri strips) so that has been stressful. I haven’t read all of your posts–do you have breast cancer or did you have a scare that turned out ok?

    • cindygreb July 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Oh Christine, I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time of it. It’s hard to stay upbeat when you get a cancer diagnosis, isn’t it? I found that giving myself lots and lots of time to process was helpful. And reaching out to friends (including girlfriends who had gone through it) helped.
      When you say 3rd surgery, do you mean 3rd biopsy? Do you mean lumpectomy?
      My story in a nutshell: I had a DCIS diagnosis and had a lumpectomy last August. I did not follow up with Aromacin or radiation therapy. I’ve been pretty much following as natural a course as possible – diet and supplements and therapy, etc. I had a 6 mo. follow-up mammo which revealed the possibility of something, which turned out to be benign.
      I went through a lot of fear this past year, but I feel I’ve come through the other side. I currently “feel healed.” Before I was so worried I would develop a more aggressive cancer. But finally I worked through my fears and I am “declaring myself healed.” That’s where I am at the moment.
      I assume from your first comment that you also had a DCIS diagnosis? How long ago was that?
      Thinking of you and sending healing thoughts your way!!!

  3. Christine O. July 11, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    I had a mammogram/ultrasound…then a biopsy (2 different kinds on same day. I was black and blue), then a wide excision while awake, diagnosed with DCIS, then another wide excision- put to sleep and 12 days ago another wide excision while put to sleep….yesterday and today i am bleeding (this never happened before) from the bottom part of the incision. My post op is tomorrow. Its been hard. Between surgeries/recovery and my post op. I usually feel ok (as in not worrying so much) but today and yesterday it has sunk in (probably with the bleeding) that tomorrows appt. may be another disappointment. I need wisdom to know what to do. (they’ve mentioned radiation to me as well as mastectomy) I have a blog if you want to check it out (its not terribly upbeat or interesting looking but its my thoughts as of late).http://irishdaybyday.blogspot.ca/

    • cindygreb July 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

      Christine, that is a LOT!!!!!
      Here is my best advice. I got it from a girlfriend who had a higher stage cancer than me. She said, “Cancer almost always grows really slowly. Therefore you have time to make decisions! There is no rush! You’re allowed to take time to figure out what’s right for you.”
      When she told me that, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was the BEST advice.
      I ended up going to the shore for a day or two of “retreat.” And I did get clear on what to do. (This was early on. Later, regarding my treatment, I just listened to my inner voice. I kept doing research, of course, but the final authority was my own intuition and preference.)

      Take care, my dear. Can you let me know what happens at your post-op appointment? You are welcome to write to me at my email address, if you’d like. I can give you my phone number there also.
      Email: cindygreb@gmail.com

      Bless you. Be gentle with yourself.

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