To Eat or Not to Eat? That is the Question.
We have all heard it. The well-meaning advice, especially right after our initial breast cancer diagnosis. "Don’t consume sugar", "stay away from soy", "eat more alkaline foods", "change the ph of your body", "avoid alcohol" and the list goes on. I remember being inundated with information about what to eat and what not to eat, until I was completely overwhelmed, and felt like if I ate anything at all, I was doomed. The ironic thing for me was that I was not an unhealthy eater before my cancer diagnosis; I ate a mostly vegetarian diet, was not a huge fan of sweets and rarely ate fast food. So when I was told to consider my diet, I was a bit conflicted.
It Came On FastI was originally diagnosed stage IIB in late 2012 and then metastatic (stage IV) in the spring of 2013. I have hormone receptor positive invasive ductal carcinoma, and have been on an aromatase inhibitor for the past 3.5 years. As many of my HR+ peers can attest, one of the first signs that estrogen is being depleted from your body is the weight gain. For me it was sudden and it happened fast. I gained 20lbs over the course of a just one year. My body also became very sensitive to how it would react to certain foods. I knew that I wanted to make a more concerted effort to fill my body with things that made me feel good. My energy and stamina become very important to me.
At first, I went 100% vegan for about 6 months, 2 months of those I was a strict raw vegan. Yes, I felt good, and lost a bunch of weight, BUT I missed the foods that I loved and that are a big part of my culture and who I am, such as seafood (my husband is a seafood broker). I was not happy depriving myself of these things while everyone around me was enjoying them. Plus being 100% vegan was hard work, at least for me. So I began my journey to find what worked for me, Lesley Kailani Glenn. Being conscious about eating healthy, but not compromising myself.
What I Eat NowWhat does my diet look like now….? You could probably say, that I am on the plant based, pescatarian, Mediterranean with an occasional piece of bacon diet. I do not eat any red meat or chicken, but that is my personal preference as those two things do not agree with my body. I also very rarely eat dairy, or egg yolks, but I will eat egg whites. I eat a ton of vegetables because I love them (ALL), and yet, I don’t care for fruit. If I had a choice between tofu and a brownie, I would pick the tofu. Sushi. YES! Ice Cream. Nah. Now that is not to say, that I don’t occasionally have cake and ice cream, I do.
I also have become aware how certain foods make me feel and because I thrive on trying to live as active as possible, filling myself with nutritious foods is high on my priority list. Plus, I believe that your body will tell you what you need as you eat more consciously, for example my body will tell me when it needs more vitamin C and I will actually crave oranges.
My favorite go to meal is stir fry, whether tofu scrambles or mixed veggies. I enjoy grains like brown rice and couscous and I love Asian food, so I often create my own versions of somen salads, miso soups, and hand rolled sushi. I have a deep archive of quick and easy salads that can be made ahead of time and eaten throughout the week, that are filling and good for you.
Here are a few healthy recipes for you to try that can be found on my blog:
I hope that my story has encouraged you to “find what feels good” for you, to eat nutritious but not having to compromise everything. Having cancer has already robbed us of so much; we don’t have to let eating be a burden too.
With much love and adventure,
Lesley Glenn is a metastatic stage IV thriver. Diagnosed in 2012, she has not let her cancer determine her life’s path. She is an avid hiker and backpacker, she travels with her husband and loves the arts. Lesley was a member of the first Living Beyond Breast Cancer Hear My Voice team in 2015, where she found her voice in cancer advocacy. She is the co-founder of the annual “Climb for a Cure” for MBC that is held every year in October in Southern California. You can follow her blog at www.livingauthenticallylesley.com