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One thing that struck us as really strange was that the shop within the oncology department predominantly sold sweets, crisps, sugary drinks, coffee and processed food. The only thing we ever bought from there was water. And don't get me started on the hospital catering when you have to be an in-patient. It seems very strange that most articles and research suggest that eating a diet full of rainbow food in a way that our grandparents and great grandparents used to eat is better than fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate and fast processed food yet the hospital food is full of everything we apparently shouldn't be eating. When we asked for advice within the NHS we were just told eat a healthy balanced diet and that there wasn't enough evidence for cutting out sugar.
As with all the research and reading we did - we decided early on that we didn't need nor have time to wait for the results of 1000 clinical studies, not for something like diet that was within our control to choose and change.
Cancer Research UK says:
"Eating and drinking a balanced diet can help your body to:
- cope with treatment side effects
- handle the best dose of certain treatments to treat your cancer
- recover and heal faster
- fight off infections
- feel stronger, healthier and have more energy
So, eating and drinking well can help you to cope better and recover faster. This could improve your chance of survival.
A balanced diet, with plenty of calories, also helps your immune system to work well. A healthy immune system can help you to fight off infections and kill cancer cells"
You can read the rest of their information here.
There’s a big divide between patients and doctors who believe that what you eat is directly linked to your health and those that think it’s farcical and won't be discouraged to eat sugar.
I'm not here to sway you either way. I'm here to tell Stu's story and the path he took with nutrition. I'm not trained in nutrition, nor am I a chef, in fact our daily meals became tricky for us to navigate because I used to be the queen of pasta or pastry and each meal that was made and not enjoyed was hard for our marriage.
Prior to Stu getting ill we spent a lot of the first 8 months of our relationship cooking for each other but once we started researching and reading, we felt huge pressure to eat the right things to stay alive longer.
After we read some books about diet, nutrition and starving cancer cells we radically changed our diets to make it into an anti cancer diet. We changed to a rainbow diet and cut out sugar, dairy and complex carbs - though occasionally we did have pasta. Also, where we could we only ate organic because some studies have shown that organic fruit and vegetables have less contaminants and increased levels of some vitamins and minerals.
All vegetables, fruit and salad was washed with Vegi wash and fruit too which is a natural way to remove soil, chemicals, waxes and micro-organisms. You can buy it from here or find it on Amazon.
We consulted with Patrice Surley and a nutritionist called Holly at CHHP and the recommendation was:
1. To follow a low glycaemic index diet for stable blood glucose levels.
2. To follow a healthy balanced diet which includes adequate protein, fruits and vegetables with the aim of maintaining body composition.
3. To choose foods which are enjoyed (hence the occasional pasta but we kept strict about sugar and dairy).
Here are some articles and websites that we found useful:
Healthline - cancer and diet
Cancer Active - the rainbow diet
The Rainbow Diet
Cook for your life
The Ivy Brain Tumour Centre
Healthline - Immune boosting food
Juicing was a huge part of Stu's anti-cancer diet. So much so that we have a separate page for it here.
At the beginning we weren't encouraged to use diet as a tool against cancer - but the more experts we worked with from around the world the more advice we were given about diet and how important it is. Perhaps changing your diet isn't for everyone but for us we decided it was. Did it make a difference? I don't think any of us know the definitive answer but we know Stu outlived his prognosis by 7 months. Did it cause stress in our marriage? Absolutely. Did I think after Stu died maybe we didn't need to be so strict? Sure I thought about it. But then I also thought about how the doctors gave him up to 3 months as the prognosis and he made it to 10 months post diagnosis. Diet as well as all the other steps were important parts of our plan. To think that we had KFC on our wedding night and the amount of "treats" I took into hospital that first weekend but luckily Stu wasn't into junk food! You don't know what you don't know so judging anyones diet choices isn't wise.
There's lots of accounts to follow on Instagram for lots more dietary knowledge. You can find some of here and I'll be adding more.
Need help with the cooking? I sure did, I never thought of myself as a bad cook before but I was stuck for ideas constantly especially when you are juggling so much.
We used a meal subscription service called Green Chef, it seemed to be the healthiest one we could find and in settings you can choose dietary preferences like keto, high protein, flexitarian, low carb, vegetarian and vegan. The meals I've cooked have been delicious and simple to make with all the ingredients in the pack. You can find all the information here for Green Chef. I have a code that gives you up to £75 off - you can access it here. Please note that link also gives me £20 off my next box so don't feel you have to use it, you may find other deals online. I highly recommend Green Chef but haven't been paid to advertise it.
I've recently discovered this absolute gem of a company called Macromeals. On those nights where the day has been particularly tricky and the thought of preparing a fresh meal is too much this is where this company steps in - the meals are delicious and the portions are generous. You can design your own meals or simply tell them what you do and don’t like and leave them to take care of the rest. Every subscription is different based on your preferences and all meals can be frozen. The company is based locally to us in The Cotswolds but they deliver UK wide. The best thing for me is that the ingredients used are all organic! You can create your meal plan on their website and the team behind this company are so willing to help with any questions which is great. Meal subscription prices work out to £5.70 per meal. I'm literally tapping my head over here wishing I had found these guys before and saved time, stress and worry about what I was cooking for Stu. Their website is here.
USEFUL INSTAGRAM LINKS