Prior to launching Pretty Wellness, I rarely revealed to friends and family how much I really knew about health and wellness. Perhaps I didn’t want to sound too preachy. Or maybe I was afraid of sounding hypocritical, given my former Diet Dr. Pepper addiction (it was once my biggest vice). Regardless, years of nutrition electives in college and part-time jobs as an ACE certified aerobics instructor have given me hands-on access to the latest nutritional information. (Not to mention the countless evenings chugging light beer and reading girly fitness magazines.) While I knew that eating whole foods would contribute to a more healthy and active body, a part of me still felt invincible and wasn’t necessarily practicing what I knew. It took my second round of breast cancer to re-educate myself on fueling my body.
Though I had this information, being 20-something, I largely ignored it. As my career soared, making money gave me freedom to live on my own. So, I could eat when and what I wanted without a powerful figure (aka my mom) telling me I knew better. I thought I was living the high-life, dining out at fancy restaurants, ordering delivery for breakfast daily, and stocking my apartment with easy-to-grab boxed goods because I was “so busy.” While many of these choices were not aligned with “healthy eating,” I felt because I was young and relatively thin, I could discount it. Disease was not an issue (or so I thought). If I ever I creeped up in weight, I just counted calories without ever significantly changing my way of eating. I didn’t realize I felt like crap. I blamed my constant low energy and bloated stomach on work-related stress. I didn’t appreciate that even young me could have benefited significantly from nutrient dense foods.
Once I stopped counting calories and focused on clean eating, I felt and looked amazing. Unfortunately, it took cancer to motivate me to re-engage in a “more healthy” lifestyle. Looking back now, I wish someone had knocked me in the head years ago with this message. The vain me would’ve loved the glowing skin, extra sparkly hair, and slimmer hips that go along with healthy eating.
The less vain me also understands that living a plant-based lifestyle helps ward off disease, so it certainly couldn’t have hurt to start eating strategically earlier in my life. I’m not sure I could have prevented the cancer re-occurrence, but I would have at least felt (and looked) healthier. But for now I’m committed, focused, and feel great about all the positive changes. While I trust my doctors and the traditional treatment I’m receiving, who can argue about eating foods that have solid nutrient and enzyme content to help oxygenate my cells? Who can argue about drinking more water to perhaps help the toxins (both cancer and every day toxic chemicals) release themselves from my system?
So many people have asked me what I’m doing – here were my first immediate changes. In creating my clean eating diet plan, I read several books Anti Cancer by David Serven Schrieber, Eat for Life by Joel Furhman, MD and Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr for starters.) I also watched seminars/documentaries (“Forks Over Knives”, Dr. Silberstein’s “Fighting Cancer with Your Fork”) consulted naturopaths and researched health journals. I continue to communicate often with my doctors and integrated team, so they are aware and can comment on my choices.
Yes, I miss my precious DDP and big blocks of cheese, but I physically feel wonderful and mentally believe that I’m helping my body heal. Plus, it is an added bonus that it makes me look pretty, too.
My Top 5 List of Immediate Changes – Clean Eating
1. I significantly decreased my sugar intake (cancer supposedly feeds off of sugar)
- Rid all simple sugars, ranging from candy to pasta and white flour breads/snacks
- Substitutions –2 tbsps. of sunflower seed butter, sprouted breads, quinoa, homemade bread
2. I eliminated all processed foods – too many bad (genetically modified) ingredients/not many nutrients
- Literally, no more chips, bread, coffee creamers, most cereals
- Substitutions – dehydrated zucchini, dehydrated kale chips, steamed spiraled zucchini (aka zoodles,) sprouted breads (in freezer section), olives, avocados
3. I embraced plant-based nutrition (eat tons of vegetables at all meals)
- Big salads, smoothies, raw vegetables, wheat grass shots, green juices, occasionally use green juice powders when busy
- Use pumpkin seeds, sea salt, olives, hummus, apples, chickpeas and berries as garnishes
4. I eliminated dairy and animal* protein. Some studies (not everyone agrees) show that the following elements can increase breast cancer risk: both have added human growth like factors (hormones), both can cause inflammation, which has been studied to increase risk of diseases. *Note, after three years of being completely vegan, I have started to consume organic eggs. I consulted with my doctors and naturopath to assure I was getting all the nutrients needed to heal and thrive on my cancer medication.
- No cow’s milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meats or fish
- Substitutions – legumes, nut/seed butters, quinoa, oat milk, flax-seeds (Omega 3’s), cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, homemade hummus, kale and spinach
5. I drink a lot of water (regular water, not seltzer, crystal light, juice or Diet Dr. Pepper)
- Drink more than ½ my weight in ounces
- Fun drink substitutions: add green tea (not store bought) – actual tea leaves, drink coconut water, try Kombucha (bought at Health Food stores) – fizzy drink or make infused waters.
Here are some of my favorite tools to help take small steps toward clean-eating.
First books I read that highlight clean eating for disease prevention:
Useful clean eating tools – eat more fruits and veggies in smoothies, juices and salads:
What are your favorite plant-based, whole foods? Mine is our Kid-Approved Green Smoothie.
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This site chronicles my experiences including research, interviews, meetings, seminars and observations made knowing I have cancer. I am not a medical expert or health care professional. The lifestyle changes and decisions I have made are personal decisions analyzed often with family, friends as well as my own medical and natural team.
This post may contain affiliate links meaning I may receive a commission with no costs to you. I pro-actively try various products and then affiliate myself with these items that I already use and love.
Images courtesy of Vegan-raw-diet.com.