The summer my Mum died was obviously the worst of my life, but there were a surprising amount of silver linings to that particularly black cloud. For a start, I have one of the best friends imaginable and she was there for every second of it – I’m not sure how I would have made it through each day without having her sofa to crash on. She knew I needed turn my mind to something positive and she supported me without question, which I will always be thankful for. With a few tears and a lot of laughs, she helped me come up with my Anti-Cancer Lifestyle Plan. It’s based on a lot of reading and research, a full list of which I’ll provide later. I don’t want to make this post too long by explaing why everything is in the plan, as one of the things I was desperate for that summer was just for someone to help me and tell me what to do and how to do it – this is that.
Fruit and Veg: 7-10 portions per day (1 portion = 80g)
Choose rainbow colours! Eat something purple/red/orange/yellow/green every day and include 1 portion of cruciferous vegetable (broccoli/kale/cauliflower) a day.
Fat: Cut down on saturated fats + overall fat intake should be no more than 20-25% of daily calories
Love the healthy fats! Avocado, oily fish, beans, lentils, linseeds, olive oil, nuts, seeds. Use cold pressed olive oil when cooking at medium temperatures, but not at high temps as it breaks down into saturated fat. Coconut oil’s a good choice for high temp cooking. Use flax/walnut oil in salads.
Fibre: Consume 25-40g per day
Eat a full range of fruit, veg and pulses for fibre. High fibre foods include: lentils/beans/oats/chickpeas/wholewheat spaghetti/apples/dried aprictos
Oily Fish: Consume at least 3 portions a week
Canned fish is fine as it retains all the omega 3 – except tuna. Don’t eat tuna more than once or twice a week max due to excess mercury. Best choices – mackerel, sardines, herring, pink trout, anchovies, salmon, bream. Try not to eat smoked fish very often (even though it’s amazingly yummy) as the process encourages carcinogens.
Beans/Pulses: Aim for a portion per day
Canned is okay but fresh is best whenever possible. Change the water 2/3 times when preparing dried beans as this can help avoid the flatulence factor!
Soya: Consume 1 serving of soya 5 times a week (except I eat it more than that due to my obsession with porridge…)
As well as soya milk, try tofu, soya yoghurt (aim for the ones with less added sugar), soya flakes in cereals and salads
Linseeds (flaxseed): 2 tbsps a day
This stuff is goooood on porridge. And on yoghurt… and as a thickener in soup… or sprinkled on salads… ooh it’s good with everything. Ideally grind the seeds at home yourself (use a coffee grinder), but if you’re lazy like me then the ground stuff is okay.
Meat/Dairy: This is the big debated one, so I can’t stress enough that you need to make up your own mind about it, but this is what I do
Avoid red meat 99% of the time, consume a minimum of other meats. Avoid dairy, except organic probiotic yoghurt with no added sugar.
Cut the fat and skin off of any meat consumed and don’t burn it; use baking/poaching techniques. Get calcium from leafy greens, sardines (with bones), salmon.
Spices: Embrace them all! Especially garlic and turmeric every day. Garlic is especially good raw and turmeric is best used by the body when combined with black pepper.
Sugar: Cut it out as much as possible!
Organic Food: Choose organic wherever possible to avoid pesticides and added hormones. Definitely choose organic if eating meat or dairy.
Bring overall cost of shopping down by substituting meat for beans/pulses, use less expensive (less popular = less farmed = less processed!) fish, plan ahead and batch cook.
Liquids: Drink 1.5 litres of filtered water a day, don’t wait to feel thirsty. Drink green tea if you want a hot drink – avoid other caffeinated drinks.
And just so you know: Also good to pack into your diet as often as possible are – ginger, onions, leeks, tomatoes, mushrooms, seaweed (yes, really – and not the fried stuff from the local Chinese), citrus fruits, berries, pomegranate juice, dark chocolate (unfortunately no more than 20g a day max), alfafa, parsley, homemade vegetable juices
Avoid: Alcohol/sugar/refined grains/coffee/excess tea/over the counter drugs (eating better should get rid of your annoying ailments anyway, but try to deal with them in a natural way instead of reaching for the tables. Taking them stops your liver from dealing effectively with other jobs as it has to focus on detoxifying the drugs)
Yep, exercise really is good for you, promise. The good news is that you don’t have to bust your butt in the gym every day to get the anti-cancer benefit from it – buuut… the more effort you put in, the more you get out of it. Aim for 30 minutes of getting your heart pumping a day, whether that’s walking/running/dancing/whatever takes your fancy.
and that Feel Good Factor…
Well this is the bit that’s really up to you, and I’m still working on mine, so I can’t be too much help unfortunately. But there’s a lot to be said for overall wellbeing – it’s not just some ridiculous hippy notion. My plan is to incorporate yoga into my life; try and achieve a sense of peace and balance, but that’s not the answer for everyone, so in the words of Sheryl Crow – if it makes you happy…