As a young breast cancer survivor, I often wonder about my diet: what I eat, what I don’t eat, and what I think I really should eat. Is my diet helping me stay healthy? What about superfoods — are they even real? To help demystify food post diagnosis, I sat down with Julie Lanford, a specialist in oncology nutrition. You can watch our entire conversation here, but here are some of Lanford’s quick Do’s and Don’t’s to keep on hand.
DO eat more fruits and vegetables
We know that nationally, few of us are getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. Surprisingly, according to Lanford, cancer patients and survivors are no different. If nothing else, Lanford says, making this change is key. “Keep track of how many fruits and vegetables you eat and make sure you’re having them at your meals…Find the ones you like and include more of those.”
DON’T get nutrition advice from celebs
The advice tends to be all over the place, and we know that nutrition is something personal and individual.
DO drink water most of the time
Recharge and replenish with plain water first. Drinking sweetened or artificially sweetened beverages is okay once in a while, but try to make water your primary source of hydration.
DON’T eliminate entire food groups
If you’re looking at diets to try, Lanford says the elimination of an entire food group is a red flag to watch out for — it often will not reflect a healthy diet. (The exception is of course if you have a known or suspected allergy.)
DO learn to cook something new
Experiment with different recipes — have fun and be adventurous with food. Lanford has a wide selection of great, healthy recipes for cancer survivors on her site.
It’s also important to remember that there will be times, like during chemotherapy or other treatments, when it’s okay to reach for the chips or cookies, if that’s all you’re able to eat at that time. Give yourself permission, and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. As Lanford says, “The purpose of healthy eating is to nourish our bodies so we can enjoy life.” Not, in other words, so we can obsess further about food.