When to Relax About Your Cancer Diet


When I started my doctor’s alternative treatment program four years ago, I was prescribed a diet, supplements and detox routines. I did everything to the best of my ability. I didn’t cheat on my diet once in the first three months of my program. Before that, I hadn’t eaten sugar for a year, and I’d already been juicing and eating organic, so in all, about 18 months went by before I cheated.

Forbidden Fruits?

The first cheat on an anti-cancer diet feels forbidden. Whether it’s eating something at a restaurant that arrives with an unexpected topping of cream sauce or binging on a pint of organic ice cream, it does not feel good.

I remember wondering if my first cheat – a restaurant dessert of milk pudding – would derail all of my progress.

It didn’t. A few cheats, after a long period of compliance, cannot derail a diet and supplement program.

It’s frequent or daily cheats, built up over time, that can derail the program. Returning to a “normal” American lifestyle of fast food, barbecued ribs and Skittles is a recipe for eventual disaster.

But I struggled to adjust after I got well. I wondered what I could eat, and how often, whether I could relax a little.

When to Relax

I recently talked with a great health coach about this, who reassured me that after four years, it’s okay to relax a little. It’s okay to eat a slice of pizza with friends, enjoy a piece of cake at a birthday party, or drink a glass of wine at a celebration. The key is that these things aren’t daily habits — they’re occasional. My daily habits remain organic foods, clean water, and great supplements.

I am even looking to dial down the supplements, slowly and methodically, with my doctor’s help. My diet has been relaxed already, so I now eat more things. I’m edging my way toward a maintenance program.

But it’s also important not to feel guilt — and I struggle with this. Sometimes, when I eat too much dark chocolate, I worry. I wonder if I should counterbalance it with more dandelion greens or beet juice or supplements.

The worry itself is probably more damaging than the sugar at this point. I need to take a deep breath, continue to eat my organic, balanced anti-cancer diet, and occasionally give myself permission to enjoy food as part of enjoying life.

Giving Thanks and Giving Up Guilt

I’m trying a new habit this week: I’m giving thanks for all of my food. Even the food I don’t think I should be eating. The vast majority of my food is healthy and on-plan, so if I have a brownie I will just accept it and move on. I’ll see how this goes.

My main diet, the diet that is the core of my program, is a mostly vegetarian, Mediterranean-style one. I’m finally reading the great book The Blue Zones, and my diet is not far off from those diets. I feel I am on the right track in eating well and giving my body what it needs to support itself and stay healthy.

If I’m not perfect, then I’m human, and I don’t want to feel bad about that anymore.


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