Part #1 – Food is Medicine

October 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

Part #1 – Food is Medicine

Just over one year ago I had my final surgery for Breast Cancer and part of me feels like it was so long ago, but another part of me feels like it was just yesterday.   When I ask the question “Where did my cancer come from?”  many things come to mind.  Years of being exposed to cigarette smoke (in restaurants, at home, and many other public places).   Growing up behind a nursery that sprayed pesticides and herbicides and our well water was on their fence line.   We had no filter on our water system that could remove the chemicals that leached into our water.   The crazy amount of hair spray and perfume I used for years. The cause of my cancer could be a combination of all of these things and more, but what about when things really started to change in the food industry?  We started eating frozen dinners, pot pies, pizza pops, Kraft dinner and pre made lasagna.  Nobody asked what was in those products because it was so cool that they were pre made and easy to make.  I remember growing up in Port Kells and having a huge garden and chickens.  My dad would grow beans, squash, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and more.  We had fresh raspberries, blueberries, apples, plums, that we would just go out and pick off the branch.   I would go down to get my eggs for breakfast and say good morning to the chickens and grab a cucumber on the way back for our salad at dinner.  Things have changed!  I believe I was very fortunate to know where my food came from and I am not sure that many of the kids today have the same opportunities.  We live in a fast paced world where both parents are working, the kids are in many activities, traffic is crazy and stress is high.  Fast food and processed food seems like the best thing to do because it saves time…but is it the best choice and do we know what we are really eating?  If you watch the opening to the movie Forks Over Knives…the movie starts out by saying that this generation could be the first where the parents will outlive their children if we don’t start making changes.  I don’t know about you but that was an eye opener for me.  I might have never considered these things if I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer.

One of the many things I learned from being sick with Cancer is our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal themselves but we have to fuel them with healthy whole foods.    Many people don’t know that THE NUMBER ONE THING that feeds cancer is SUGAR and sugar seems to be in everything these days.   Most of the food that is produced now is not even food…it is a food like substance.   Even your “low fat” options at the grocery store are substituted with sugar.

All cells use sugar – aka glucose – for their primary fuel source, so sugar does indeed feed all cells. But if you’ve ever had a PET scan, you know that before you get your scan, you get to drink a lovely shake of radioactive glucose or get an injection of a similar concoction. Cancer cells are very greedy; they like to gobble up glucose much more quickly than non-cancerous cells, which is why the cancer cells light up on the screen during your scan.   A plant-based diet lowers your daily glycemic load so less insulin is produced in response to your blood sugar level. A diet chock full of veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, and fruits will not raise your blood sugar as much as a diet full of white stuff like white sugar, white rice, white bread, etc. Foods that grow out of the ground are naturally low in sugar and high in fiber. Fiber helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, resulting in the production of less insulin.  “Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy Cancer.”   Go to her site for more detailed information.  She was my inspiration when I was sick.

It is also a good idea to be mindful of the type of sugar you are using when you do use it. Agave is metabolized in your body like high fructose corn syrup and most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener.  Yet because of good marketing we are made to believe it is better for us.  Organic cane sugar is a better alternative, used in moderation.

I know some people say “healthy” food is expensive, but you can either pay the farmer now or pay the Doctor later.  Here are some tips from Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer Care.

Food on a budget:

  1. Make it yourself!  The more      someone else does the prep work for you, the more you pay.
  2. Eat seasonally. Right now, organic apples are plentiful and  regularly on sale. When there is a bountiful supply, prices fall. So for      the cooler months, seek out tree fruits such as pears and apples, citrus,      greens and root veggies. Save the strawberries and melons for next summer.
  3. Grow a garden (even a small one) and get your kids involved.   The more they participate in making the food the more they will eat it.   There are several things you can grow in the fall and winter months.
  4. Eat plant proteins.  A bean is marvelous thing: high fiber, protein, slowly digested carbohydrates, mineral-rich and inexpensive. Beans and rice are a staple worldwide for a reason.
  5. Keep it unprocessed. Purchasing staples and cooking from scratch will save you money. Cold breakfast cereals are far more expensive than oatmeal.   The same goes for canned tomatoes instead of pasta sauces. Consider making your own trail mixes instead of buying granola bars.
  6. Feed your Imagination. When cooking from basic food staples, it is easy to get stuck in a rut.   Dust off your library card and explore the amazing amount of cookbooks that our local libraries have to offer. Get inspired!
  7. Socialize the old-fashioned way. Dining can put a big dent in our pocketbooks and often leave us wondering about how healthful our choices are. Instead, invite friends for a potluck. Share your healthy intentions for the meal. Potlucks are entertaining without the fuss and you might even discover new recipes to add to your repertoire!
  8. Beware the “health premium”. When a food or nutrient is trendy, it shows up everywhere. Beware functional foods like omega 3 yogurts or acai berry granolas. You will often pay a “health premium” for such items.
  9. Buy in bulk when you can.   When your favorite, trusted brands are available in large format sizes, stock up. This approach also reduces packaging waste.   The key to savings is to only buy foods you can finish in  a reasonable amount of time.
  10. Don’t waste good food.   Who said we have to throw out broccoli stalks or fennel fronds?  Dice tough veggie parts and give an extra sauté to soften.   Keep veggie trimmings in a freezer bag for use in soup stocks.  Plan meals around what is in the fridge; freeze remnants that would otherwise get wasted, such as herbs and tomato paste, in ice cube trays

Being healthy is hard work but don’t leave your health up to your doctor.  You have the power (control) to be well and take care of yourself and your family.  YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! 

Look for Part two of “Food is Medicine” in December on the meat and Dairy industry.  Lisa Marie Bhattacharya – Holistic Nutritionist at Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer Care will be co blogging with me next month. 

Great Documentaries to watch

Food Matters –

Hungry for Change –

Forks over Knives –

Food Inc –

Crazy Sexy Cancer (Kris Carr) –

10 facts you should know about Monsanto –

Click on the below link to go to several amazing documentaries –

Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer care –

Organic Lives –

The Institute of Holistic Nutrition –  Open house on Sat Nov 3rd – check it out!  Free classes!

Entry filed under: Resources.

Post #2 The difference between an allergy and a food sensitivity Part #2 – Food is Medicine

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Anita  |  October 27, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Awesome read shannon!!! You are so amazing!!! Thanks for this excellent info too!! Xox A


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