Ah, nutrition. Everyone hears that word and has some type of reaction: frustration, excitement, resentment, discouraged, obsessed, passionate. Me? I have felt all of the above. Regardless of how we feel about it, we can’t escape it. We have to eat food and drink fluids in order to remain alive. Even though it can be a difficult topic, I want to talk about it today and share my experience with it.
Most of my life, I have treated food like a very unhealthy relationship. I ate so much of it when I was angry, upset, or stressed. Then, I pushed it away like the plague when I realized I wasn’t fitting into any of my clothes. A few months later, I would find myself right back to where I started. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It has always been a struggle for me.
One day when I was in the emergency room during treatment last year, I started bawling my eyes out. When Wes asked me what was wrong, I did what I feared the most: I let him see all of the damage and emotional scarring that had built up over the last 15-20 years about my battle with food. I was completely broken and vulnerable right in front of him. I told him I hated having this battle in my head with food. I knew I couldn’t win this battle alone. And do you know what he said to me as he held me close?
“I want to start praying for you and with you about this and walk this with you.”
I looked up at him with a stuffy nose and swollen eyes and thought, “What a man! Gosh, I love him.”
And then I thought to myself,
“Why haven’t I been doing that all along?”
I was filled with guilt, shame, and defeat so I didn’t want to let anyone else in. The embarrassment of my battle was too great to ask for help and I just couldn’t allow myself to let others in.
I thought I was too far gone. Too damaged. Too many walls up.
But I had hit a breaking point. And today, the healing would begin.
I needed to involve God.
I needed to involve my loved ones.
I needed to admit it and seek help.
We began to pursue food with a different mentality together and there was a shift in the way I looked at nutrition. Once I was able to admit my need, ask for help, and open up my heart and mind, real change began to occur.
It has been, is, and will continue to be a journey with ups and downs, but my hope is that we can see food and fluids not as an “enemy” or “source of comfort”, but as fuel for our bodies.
Our bodies were given to us by God to take care of and provide the nutrients and nourishment we need so we can thrive here another day! I am so thankful for God’s guidance and grace, the support of friends and family, and for incredible dieticians and researchers to help lead the way! I just want to encourage you if you battle with this, that it can be overcome! This doesn’t have to be a lifelong battle.
You can start today!
We can do this together!
And I am here to help you in any way that I can!
I also have a Dietitian that I meet with every time I go back to MD Anderson who helps me even more! She has so graciously written a short article and provided links and resources that will be readily available from this point forward on the Resources tab of the website for cancer information, nutrition, and recipes! I hope you feel encouraged, informed, and stocked with resources after reading what she wrote below.
Nutrition “Pearls of Wisdom” for Patients and Caregivers
By Debra Ruzensky, RD
Over the years of practice with cancer patients and families and my own personal experiences caring for my husband, I have learned (and continue to learn) how nutrition plays a big role during and after treatment. Once diagnosed, patients and family members often search the internet for information about nutrition and other related topics. There is a lot of information on the web providing accurate, evidenced based nutrition advice, but also information that is used to market products like supplements and cancer diet books. How can you decipher what’s what?
The old adage still holds true… “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you are on a web site selling a product claiming to “cure” cancer, chances are there is no good research to back it. Testimonials from “patients,” celebrities, etc. are not the same as clinical trials. If there are claims of studies related to the product, there should be a way to see the actual study. Often, this is not possible because studies were not done.
Some sites will claim that a reputable cancer center is using their product and it’s not true. Buyer beware! If you are undergoing treatment and considering using an over the counter product, following a special diet, or an alternative type of treatment, discuss this with your medical team (including a registered dietitian) first. Many supplements interfere with treatment or can cause side effects such as blood thinning.
Certain diets commonly marketed to cancer patients restrict important nutrients necessary for treatment tolerance, healing and recovery. Reputable sites will end in .edu, .gov, or .org instead of .com. Research claims will be supported by links to the study. There is not usually a marketing push to buy a product on these sites.
For reputable and accurate information about nutrition and cancer, these sites are a good place to start:
- American Institute for Cancer Research (http://www.aicr.org)
- National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)
- American Cancer Society (cancer.org)
Also, check out the cancer center websites such as https://www.MDAnderson.org (MD Anderson Cancer Center), https://www.mskcc.org (Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), http://www.dana-farber.org/ (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), or https://www.seattlecca.org/ (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance).
Debra Ruzensky, RD is a Senior Clinical Dietitian at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. She has worked with cancer patients and families for 20 years. She has also been a caregiver for her husband, Bob, when he was going through treatment for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and knows firsthand the challenges patients and caregivers face during and after treatment. She is happy to report he is doing very well and in complete remission!
Thank you, Debra, for sharing this valuable guidance and resources!
God bless you all!
Is nutrition a topic that you struggle talking about? Needing encouragement, guidance, or prayer? Please reach out and I will do everything I can to send over resources, pray with you, or point you in the right direction to find answers to questions that you may have!
For additional recipes, you can check out my Pinterest page by clicking here.