Nutrition as Cancer Therapy Before, During After Therapy

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Rule #1- “All of these rules are subtly trying to get you to be more conscious of nutrition. It’s far too easy these days to consume more than you think…

Newly diagnosed cancer patients always wonder how to maximize their nutrition. Interestingly, of all of the therapies I have studied and written about since my diagnosis in 1994, nutrition for the cancer patient has been the most difficult for two reasons.

Ed.Note- according to the best selling author Michael Ruhlman we should talk about “nutritious” foods, not foods that are “healthy.” Regardless, the cancer patient/survivors food manifesto is Michael’s book “Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America.”

Reason #1 is that nutrition is rarely studied in a rigorous way. The disagreement among nutritionists demonstrated in the first article below is a good example of this lack of research on the subject. Reason #2 is that research about nutrition is often biased.

Most importantly, I, we- cancer patients and survivors are human. None of us can follow a strict set of dietary rules for years. At least I can’t. The articles linked below offer general rules and guidelines. When I look back on my own cancer survival since ’94, I have followed general nutritional guidelines myself. Especially as the rules have changed. When I was first diagnosed I read that coffee was bad for you so I stopped drinking coffee. Now coffee (3-4 cups a day) is good for you.

I love hummus so I can fill the fridge with this nutritious food. But quinoa? Not so much. I eat this superfood only when my wife finds a recipe that can mix quinoa with other foods to disguise this dry, bland grain.  And as for alcohol, don’t kid yourself. Regular people rate the wine as being unhealthy because they know that moderation is a difficult goal. I know few people who can stick to one glass a day.

The point of all this is that done right, nutrition should be one of the easiest and most enjoyable therapies for cancer patients and survivors to include in their regimen.

Please scroll down the page and ask a question or leave a comment.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Articles:

Is Sushi ‘Healthy’? What About Granola? Where Americans and Nutritionists Disagree

“We surveyed Americans and a panel of nutrition experts about which foods they thought were good or bad for you….

Is popcorn good for you? What about pizza, orange juice or sushi? Or frozen yogurt, pork chops or quinoa?

Which foods are healthy? In principle, it’s a simple enough question, and a person who wishes to eat more healthily should reasonably expect to know which foods to choose at the supermarket and which to avoid.

Unfortunately, the answer is anything but simple…

Of the 52 common foods that we asked experts and the public to rate, none had a wider gap than granola bars. More than 70 percent of ordinary Americans we surveyed described it as healthy, but less than a third of nutritional experts did. A similar gap existed for granola, which less than half of nutritionists we surveyed described as healthy…

Foods considered healthier by experts than by the public
Percent describing a food as “healthy” Nutritionists Public Difference
Quinoa 89% 58%
Tofu 85% 57%
Sushi 75% 49%
Hummus 90% 66%
Wine 70% 52%
Shrimp 85% 69%


Simple Rules for Healthy Eating

  1. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods.
  2.  Eat lightly processed foods less often.
  3. Eat heavily processed foods even less often.
  4.  Eat as much home-cooked food as possible, which should be prepared according to Rule 1
  5.  Use salt and fats, including butter and oil, as needed in food preparation.
  6. When you do eat out, try to eat at restaurants that follow the same rules.
  7.  Drink mostly water, but some alcohol, coffee and other beverages are fine.
  8. Eat with other people, especially people you care about, as often as possible.

I’ve avoided treating any food like the devil. Many nutrition experts do, and it may turn out they’re right, but at this point, I think the jury is still out. I’ve therefore tried not to tell you to avoid anything completely. My experience tells me that total abstinence rarely works, although anecdotes exist to support that practice. I think you’ll find that many other diets and recommendations work under these rules. These are much more flexible and, I hope, reasonable than what some might prescribe.

All of these rules are subtly trying to get you to be more conscious of what you’re eating. It’s far too easy these days to consume more than you think you are or more than you really need, especially when eating out. I’ve found that it’s impossible to tell any one person how much they should be eating…”

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America (Kindle Edition)

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