My cancer diet caveat:
I’m not telling you what to eat. I’m talking about what I eat. If you feel like you need to tell me what I eat is wrong, knock yourself out. But know that I don’t care, particularly if you’re not my doctor.
Before I knew I had brain cancer, I spent A LOT of time with my local gastroenterologist. I was medically tested for ALL the food sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies. I have none.
For years, I tried elimination diets hoping to find out what I was doing to cause so much harm to my GI tract. And all the answers were always, “Girl, nothing. It’s not your diet.”
In hindsight, having my brain cancer diagnosis, I’m like, if my diet gave me this rare brain tumor? Well, it wouldn’t be a rare tumor would it? And people all over the Midwest would be breaking out in tumors in their mid-thirties.
Despite what the world would have me believe, my dietary choices were not the cause of my problems.
I mean, the GI distress was very real. But I was not lacking self control. I would have gladly given up anything to feel better–sugar, gluten, dairy, meat. And for different phases of my great dietary experiment, I did.
The problem was that the problem wasn’t food. In all the giving up* though, I accepted that whatever illness I had was not going away simply because I swore off eating food I liked.
That’s not to say I didn’t learn something in all that time. In fact I learned to listen to my gut, literally and figuratively.
Some foods are harder for me to digest and require more energy to process, so I avoid them. I don’t cut them out 100% because 1.) I’m both too laid back and too tired for that, 2.) chemo means craving foods that you only see once (if you know, you know), and 3.) disability and socioeconomic status mean not being hungry gets top priority.
And when I’m taking chemo, I am all about getting through the day without an emesis bag.
Anyway, this post is for two audiences. First, my fellow cancer patients and poors. Your diet doesn’t define you, and it’s healthy to eat what you like. Diet culture is the poison.
Second, internet randos with all the answers. It’s okay for other people to eat differently than you. Let it go. And if you just have to give unsolicited advice, don’t be surprised when we get pissed off.
*The freaking irony of not giving up on giving up. It burns!
I’ve been listening to a podcast called “Maintenance Phase,” and it’s excellent. They talk a lot about fatness, and about bad science and medical practice having to do with weight/diet. It makes me think and I like that.
Even before the RA diagnosis, I was thinking about food virtually all the time. My endocrinologist told me to follow a keto diet, which I did for several years. It wasn’t that difficult for me, which was a surprise. After RA and seeing my cholesterol numbers rise and rise and rise, I moved toward an anti-inflammatory diet, which is about as opposite from keto as you can get without being vegan. My cholesterol almost immediately dropped to normal levels and I’m not struggling with the lack of dairy nearly as much as expected.
But at this point I’m thinking it’s probably nothing to do with my diet. I’m still going to try to eat as well as I can most of the time, but I’m also going to have a cheeseburger once a week. And I’m not going to eat only grass-fed, organic, blah, blah, blah. Regular stuff is expensive enough.
Emily, I was/am a follower of your art YouTubes and after not seeing anything for awhile, I decided to do some research that brought me here to your blog. I am delighted you are finding solutions for your health and I just wanted you to know you are missed on the Zentangle arena. It’s too bad that eating gets such a bad rap and that we have to do it so often… I’ve been wrestling with guilt and shame for weight gain for a couple of years, but recently have decided (at 79) it’s a terrible way to live and I will do what I can, when I can, but am not going to create a struggle for myself anymore. I’m not likely to ever be skinny again, and looking into a rear view mirror is dangerous when you are trying to move forward. Anyhow, hope this message finds you improving.
Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I will be making videos again soon-ish.