By Ann Ogden Gaffney
Founder, Cook for Your Life
In my line of work, I often meet people who before their cancer diagnosis did everything right. They ate a plant-based or vegan diet, they juiced, they stopped smoking, they cut back on their drinking and yet still they ended up in the chemo suite. The ultimate betrayal. It’s tempting under these circumstances to say ‘What the hell!’ and throw yourself into a large bag of donuts. Don’t.
I was a card-carrying vegetarian for over a dozen years before my first cancer diagnosis. I’ve been there. I know how getting this news feels. I’m here to tell you that you’ve nothing to blame yourself for, nor to congratulate yourself for either. There is no culinary silver bullet to stop cancer in its tracks. However you ate, you did nothing wrong. Life is just life, and it can be hard to accept the reality that no matter how much we try to control what happens to us, there is no controlling it, we have to let go.
So if it doesn’t work, what’s the point in eating healthily after a cancer diagnosis? It depends on what you mean by ‘doesn’t work’. At the end of the day, a healthy, plant-based flexitarian diet may not prevent cancer but it can certainly reduce the risk for many of the common ones, and also of heart disease, diabetes and many other nasty diseases which you don’t want. Not to mention the fact that healthy food makes your body feel better – unhealthy foods tend to be high in sugar and fat, which can cause your energy to fluctuate, and leave you feeling sluggish. Simply put, healthy eating improves overall health and helps to keep us strong during treatment and in survivorship, so don’t give up. Bear in mind that at Cook for Your Life our mantra for healthy eating is not about dull food and deprivation, it is about eating well, eating wisely and above all eating for enjoyment. The recipes we’ve chosen will show you what healthy eating looks like, and how delicious and how easy it can be. Enjoy!