What could be wrong with trying to eat healthy? Eating a healthy diet will go a long way to improve quality and quantity of life, right?
Yes, it certainly will. However, sometimes when people try to eat super well, they end eating the same things, day after day because they feel compelled to get in all their daily anti-cancer foods. Don’t get me wrong, I am a super healthy eater, and encourage my family and clients to take an active role in choosing nutrient-dense foods. But when you just can’t stomach one more smoothie, salad, soup or stew; when you open the refrigerator and NOTHING interests you, you have food fatigue.
Some uber-healthy eaters develop an eating disorder referred to as orthorexia, an obsession with eating healthy foods and avoiding ‘unhealthy’ foods. While that might not seem like something to be worried about, in extremes it causes people to eliminate entire food groups from their diets and makes them over-analyze everything in their food. People with orthorexia are often afraid to eat in restaurants for fear of unhealthy ingredients and preparation, or avoid social engagements and thus often become depressed and lonely.
But short of becoming orthorexia, food fatigue can create a loss of desire to eat. While calorie restriction has anticancer benefits, the body needs sufficient nutrients to fortify the immune system and support the body against cancer. Coupled with an already rigid diet, being too bored by our food choices to eat will limit the range and extent of nutrients ingested. We are constantly bombarded with ‘eat this and not that’.
Beyond the obvious–eat organic and avoid GMOs, processed, fast and fried foods whenever possible; don’t stress about every little thing that goes into your mouth. Apart from food allergies, sensitivities or intolerances, entire food groups need not be eliminated—unless by choice. (Junk food is not a food group, just in case this gave you a license to grab some fries–at least not often). And even if one chooses to eliminate certain foods, it is still not a good idea to eat the same foods day in and day out. Eating a balanced but varied diet will serve us better in the long-run.There is often a there is a fine line between eating healthy and becoming either bored with dining or being boring to dine with.
Do you suffer from Food Fatigue? Pick up a cookbook, browse a cooking magazine or dig into a pizza!
Whoa, before you think I have lost my mind, pizza can be super healthy and a delicious way to pack in a significant amount of nutrients.
I had dinner in the city with a good friend, Tami Boehmer. We went to Gustorganics in New York City and I had a delicious chickpea crust pizza with garlicky kale, herbed tofu feta and creamy basil pesto. I was hooked. I have since then replicated that meal at home and expanded my toppings (and okay, I tend to go heavy on the toppings, but Gustorganics had just the right amount). You can put most anything on a pizza. Pestos and sprouts are an easy way to add flavor and pack in a lot of vegetables. Grow your own sprouts and herbs, make your own pestos or visit your local farmer’s market. Oh the places you can go with really healthy foods.
For the pizza: (serves one or two)
- Mix ½ cup garbanzo bean/ chickpea flour with ¼ cup filtered water, ½ tsp olive oil, dash of salt and herbs, if using (¼ tsp dried or ½ tsp fresh). For a thinner crust, add a bit more water
- Spread mixture in oval, round or rectangular shape on parchment paper—crust should be about ¼” thick
- Bake at 375 degrees about 20 minutes until just browning on the edges. Carefully peel from paper and flip
- Spread sauce and/or pesto onto crust
- Add additional toppings and return to the oven for 5 minutes
- Serve with sprouts (microgreens) of choice for sprinkling on top
- Add fresh or dried herbs to the crust mixture—I like oregano or rosemary in mine
- 1 Tbs ground or partially ground flax seed may be added to the crust
- When using salt, consider Celtic sea, Pink Himalayan or Redmonds Real Salt
- When choosing olive oil, look for organic, extra virgin, and skip the supermarket brands.
- Utilize the power of food-synergy. When certain foods are combined, the nutritional benefits are phenomenal
Topping choices are endless. Consider tomatoes, tomato sauce, pestos, thick cashew cream, olives, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, kale, broccoli, roasted or grilled eggplant, organic cheese (vegan or dairy, or nutritional yeast), fresh herbs and sprouts (basil sprouts are excellent if you can find them—they can be added with the toppings and they add a huge boost of flavor)
Serve with salad or sprouts such as broccoli, kale, watercress, alfalfa or whatever you can find or grow. Sprouts are loaded with valuable health-boosting, anti-cancer phytochemicals in highly concentrated forms, so a little goes a long way.
Here are some of the variations I tried:
Kalamata olives, sundried tomato pesto, basil pesto, chopped kale (you may want to use chopped kale sautéed with olive oil and garlic), with watercress sprouts
Some people eat to live and some live to eat; I say eat good food that makes you happy. Deprivation is never a good thing and will not nourish the soul, just don’t forget the sprouts!
For more recipes: Cancer Fighting Farm-Stand Recipes
Some of my favorite anti-cancer toppings:
Tomatoes are a powerful anti-cancer fruit, particularly due the synergistic effects of lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, phenols and other nutrients and antioxidants in the tomato working together to offer cancer protection
Basil has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It contains flavonoids that help shield cell structures from radiation and oxidative damage. Both fresh basil and basil oil have strong antibacterial capabilities, so by adding the herb or oil to your salad, you can help ensure your vegetables are safe to eat.
Eggplant is rich in dietary fiber, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and contains powerful cancer fighting antioxidants such as chlorogenic acid, which fights free radicals and helps protect cells from mutating into cancer cells, and nasuin, which helps cut off the blood supply to cancer cells.
Rosemary is a powerful anti-cancer herb. The two key ingredients in Rosemary-caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid-are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which help protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. Rich in carnosol, Rosemary has been found to detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. It’s widely known that an imbalance of estrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. Rosemary stimulates liver enzymes which inactivate estrogen hormones. Rosemary, along with thyme, oregano, basil and mint promote apoptosis in cancer cells and reduce their speed by blocking the enzymes they need to invade neighboring tissues. Rosemary can inhibit the formation of HCAS, the carcinogenic compounds that form when you cook protein, by 75% (so use chopped rosemary in your marinade if you choose to grill proteins)
Watercress is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids including lutein, calcium as well as trace amounts of omega-3’s. Watercress also contains a high amount of PEITC (phenylethylisothiocyanate) which has been shown to protect DNA from damage. Studies show that a regular intake of watercress has been associated with protection against colon cancer
Red cabbage not only contains isothiocyanates but also contains anthocyanins, a class of flavonids that provides as many as 36 different varieties of anticancer chemicals. Cabbage also contains a significant amount of glutamine, an amino acid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Red Cabbage boosts the immune system’s ability to produce more antibodies. Red cabbage contains large quantities of sulfur and other minerals that work as cleansing agents for the digestive system. Raw red cabbage cleans the bowels, thus helping to prevent indigestion and constipation.
Artichokes contain three amazing anticancer properties (polyphenols, antioxidants such as vitamin C and flavonoids) that protect the body against free radicals, encourage apoptosis (cell death) and cell proliferation, which means they can which means they can slow down, stop, or even completely reverse the effects of cancer.
Crucifers (kale, broccoli, broccoli rabe, watercress, arugula, etc) have numerous anti-cancer, detoxifying benefits that help prevent toxic buildup and DNA damage. Crucifers promote healthy estrogen metabolism.
~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer strategist, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and well-being. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health, and Breast Cancer Answers, is a contributor to The Truth About Cancer, and has written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, Surviving Beautifully, Body Local and more; she writes the Options for Life column for the Natural Healing-Natural Wellness Magazine. Elyn hosts the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys. http://elynjacobs.com/about/
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