Sunday 30 November 2008

Re-thinking the whole food thing

Back in September I walked into a Chinese herbalist centre hoping to get some acupuncture for some back pain I'd been experiencing, and walked out with a series of acupuncture/massage sessions and a bunch of detox herbs and pills. Not quite what I'd been after. I knew my head wasn't where it should be (this was around the time of Ben's surgery) but I went along with it, let myself get caught up in the tide of seemingly random actions on my part.

The herbalist basically said my liver, digestion, circulation, immune system and "ladyworks" weren't working as they should be. So I started a detox - no alcohol, limited caffeine (1, not my usual 2 coffees a day), no sweets, crisps, chips, roast nuts (!), citrus fruit/juices, deep fried foods, and a limit of red meat/dairy 3-4 times a week. I also took loads of pills and bitter herbal teas that stunk the flat out. I started it ok, but then our trip to Portugal put a dent in my resolve. It was silly to expect to do a detox on holiday, so I put it on hold, and really focused when we got back. It was 4 weeks of serious detoxing in October!

It was kind of funny - both Ben and I were on pill regimes (very different ones, mind you!) but it made me feel like we were doing something in his treatment together, which was nice.

I lasted 4 weeks, not the full 5 I'd paid for (hey, I have a week in reserve, whenever I want it). And I really noticed the difference - in my skin, my period, and my liver (unfortunately the only way I know my liver has detoxed is when I drink loads without my body objecting to the alcohol - nice). And I was generally a lot calmer, less agitated, less prone to stress. It was great.

Once I was off the detox of course I had to sample everything I'd been denying myself (and I mean, EVERYTHING!) but after I got over the deprivation reaction, I went back to fairly normal, healthy eating.

I have since started reading a book called 'Everything you need to know to help you beat cancer' by Chris Woollams. Ben had bought it and started reading it, and we're now both somewhere in the middle of it. The author's daughter had a brain tumour, and he did loads of research into what causes cancer. In the book he has managed to pull a large number of information sources together in an easy-to-read format. It's an excellent book, and a must-read for anyone with cancer, but also anyone who wants to lower their chances of getting cancer.

I'm mentioning this book in relation to my detox, because basically, the book advocates eating in a manner that more or less matches what I did on my detox. I feel that it's no coincidence that I did a 'random' detox and then started reading this book.

I know, and most people know, that eating healthier means a healthier body, but when you're forced to *really* think about it, *really* think about the levels of toxins in your body, and how they can create conditions for cancer... and when you have a boyfriend who is battling the damn thing... well, it makes you stop in your tracks and wonder what the hell you're doing.

(Don't get me wrong: I'm by no means saying that Ben caused his own cancer through a poor diet - especially because in the last year or so his diet has been formidably healthy - but a less than healthy diet and over-indulgence in booze in earlier years *may* have contributed to his current situation, among a whole host of other factors.)

So, I've started to really think about what we're putting in our bodies. Mainly food and drink, but also toiletries. I am now paying more attention to ingredients on packaging. I am working my way up to a different approach to food. I'm even considering giving up coffee, which is going to be difficult... my morning latte has been such a constant in my life for so long!

And I really need to lose weight. The last two years or so has seen me put on a LOT of weight, and I am now the heaviest I've ever been in my life. This is very unhealthy, especially for a person with such a small frame. Being overweight massively increases my chances of getting cancer, and dying earlier. Not good.

So... healthy eating. Organic food. No prepared foods. Limited dairy. Less red meat, more oily fish. Several smaller meals a day. No caffeine or aspartame. Limited sugars, and natural ones wherever possible. Supplements (which ones? I haven't worked that out yet, there are so many to choose from!) Green tea. No added salt (arghh, but I'm Greek!). Filtered water. Limited or no (?!) alcohol. Multiple servings of vegetables and fruit every day. And so on and so forth.

It's not like we've been eating in an unhealthy manner, it's just that we can (and should) take it to the next level if we're to put up a decent fight against this disease that's intruded so rudely into our lives. And we will. We intend to beat the fucker.


Sarah said...

too true Mim. Been eating much better since dealing with Riley's food intolerance's. Can recommend getting a copy of Sue Dengate's book "Fed Up" too to help with a low chemical diet and a list of nasty additives and colours to avoid. Useful when reading labels in the supermarker.

Mimi said...

Thanks for the tip, BritBabe :)