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Luck with diet changes?

dearfoam's picture
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2011

Has anyone had specific luck with diet changes for the cancer patients? My dad enjoys a meaty southern diet but also loves fruits and vegetables. He loves coffee and sweet iced tea, as well as desserts. I have read about some really specific diets, but there are many and of course conflicting recommendations. I do want to cut down on the greasy stuff because we just don't eat that way at my house. He'd have me take him out everyday but I have to watch his $.

Dad's cancer is to be biopsied next week, but has spread throughout lungs (11 tumors) and brain (6). Doctors are hesitant to say if it is likely lung cancer, but know it is serious. Started WBR on Tuesday.

I want him to be happy no matter the situation, but don't want to take away the pleasure of eating sweets if it won't help.

Any experience you can share?

DrMary's picture
Posts: 522
Joined: Nov 2010

There are folks on the internet who claim you can cure cancer with their diet/supplement. While they seem sincere, their claims really don't hold up.

A good diet can support your health, and can also help your resistance to cancer. The change from a very crappy diet (no fruits, veggies, whole grains and lots of saturated fats) to a great diet will certainly help someone feel better, but I doubt it will change their cancer treatment outcome much.

By all means, help and encourage your father to eat better. However, you do need to balance the healthy diet idea with his happiness. A gradual shift might work better, and emphasizing the addition of fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than "cutting out" the meat and grease might be easier for him to take.

Sweets might not be the evil you think - high blood sugar might indeed favor the growth of cancer cells, but cutting out sweets is not the only way to avoid high blood sugar. Also, a lot of folks feel that coffee and tea are allies in the fight against cancer, so it might be better to try to lower the glycemic index of that sweet tea or coffee, rather than cut them out. Eating things that are high in fiber or protein at the same time with the sweets helps with this - whole wheat toast or an oatmeal muffin with the coffee/tea, for example, or making those desserts with extra soy or whey powder to increase the protein.

I cook a lot with olive oil: fried chicken and home fries (I use cold-pressed light oilv oil) are big in our house as a treat. They taste sinful, are full of calories but low in saturated fat; very satisfying and possibly sort of "healthy" - just don't eat them every day. You can also remove fat from some food with some planning - we make bbq beef and pulled pork fairly low-fat by slow-cooking the meat a day or so ahead and then cooling it so the fat floats to the top and solidifies for easy removal. Whole wheat buns and cole slaw made with homemade olive oil mayo. . . some good eatin' there.

Your father might also get interested in doing some of the cooking - I found that my son was much more interested in healthy food when he made it himself.

dearfoam's picture
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2011

I am inclined to think the gradual is the best way to go. Unfortunately, dad is not able to really do any of the cooking. His short term memory and coordination is getting a little tricky! He did pretty well today - did a lot of fresh foods and he enjoyed them. Of course hed eat bacon everyday if he could! :)

Barbara53's picture
Posts: 658
Joined: Aug 2009

Sad to say, but your father may not be able to enjoy life and eating for much longer, so I'd give him what he likes. My mother has always liked sweets, but nowadays she'd love to live on sugar. I think cancer loves sugar, and at this point I'm giving the monster what it wants, which seems to make things easier on Mom (late stage ovarian).

Good luck. It's a tough job.

LeeandShirley's picture
Posts: 122
Joined: Apr 2011

40 years ago, I lost my mother to breast cancer. She was terminal when she was dx'd. She was not told of the expected outcome. She struggled to eat right the 9 months that she survived. She was a coffee and cigarette and one small meal a day gal. The change in her diet did nothing. If you ever heard of Adelle Davis, she was a macrobiotic diet guru of the 60's and 70's. She died of breast cancer. Now my husband has been dx'd with stage 4 primary liver cancer. I let him eat anything he wants. I add some supplements and teas, but never say he can't have his favorite sticky buns. I would advise you to do whatever you think best, But, I don't believe diet cures cancers that are advanced. If they did we could get rid of surgery, chemo and radiation alltogether.

yv1214's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: Feb 2011

My mom is stage IV bc w/mets to the liver and she is refusing to eat certain things because other cancer patients tell her that its not healthy. I am so frustrated because I tell her all of the time each person is different with their taste so not to follow others. She of course fights me on this so again I'm the bad guy!!

dearfoam's picture
Posts: 82
Joined: Apr 2011

even if what she can tolerate or wants isn't healthy all the time, she still has to have food to get by. remind her that eating she finds yummy is ok! just keep moderation in mind for healthy and comfort and junk foods! I found a good tasting healthy juice thing and give that to my dad with his breakfast along with a vitamin, and then I don't feel guilty when he wants something totally unhealthy. :)

Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2012

Adelle Davis was not macrobiotic. She promoted many animal products and organ meats, chock full of phosphorus, of which she probably got an overload and couldn't detoxify. She died of bone cancer, not breast cancer, as I recall; and I recall because I was passionately into her writings when I was very young and she died shortly after I discovered her, at the age of 70. Not too young, but you'd expect someone with her savvy to go a lot longer. Still, it happens.
She did not eschew sugar, only recommended eating much less and avoiding highly refined products preferring honey and maple syrup. Always good advice.
Many people were helped by her, but IMO she promoted far too much animal food for most people to be able to handle and digest. That in itself is drastically against macrobiotic principles, which by and large discourage animal food except occasionally fish and eggs. I tried it and found I need some dairy for good health. Many naturopaths warn against embracing diets that are too different from what most of our ancestors ate (the goods foods, not the junk) because to some extent this is in our genes.

JennZieser's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2005

During the past seven years of cancer, my husband has slowly changed his eating habits. There are times we both resisted and times we were motivated. The stress I put myself under to eat "just the right thing" was often detrimental to our health...stress is worse than pizza. Now, we eat a plant based diet and keep it as simple as that. There are no lists of what not to eat and what to eat...we just eat a plant based diet. For us, this includes mostly veggies, fruit, whole grains and real fats (olive oil, coconut oil, butter). We don't drink any diet soda, but do drink iced tea and coffee. We limit sugar, but eat dairy and chicken a few times a week. I've known people who went totally vegan and did well. I've also known people who didn't change their diet and did ok. I know that a vegan diet is probably what is ideal (this coming from someone who ate paleo for a year), but chicken is ok when we need protein. Most of all we avoid stressing about our food. We order meatless pizza about once a week, but try to eat as unprocessed as possible. I don't worry about organic as much as some, but we live in Iowa and get a lot of local foods. We do avoid allergens such as peanuts, wheat and limit our dairy, but not so much lately. It might sound like we are strict with our eating, but we really aren't. It has evolved into this slowly and doesn't seem like a diet at all.

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