I struggle when folks ask me to describe my diet. “A ketogenic, relatively low protein, mostly-raw, mostly-vegan, organic, whole foods way of eating” doesn’t really dance off the tongue. And while I can list everything I don’t eat (sugar, fruit, dairy, grains, legumes, mammals, poultry…), describing what I do eat gives a more accurate sense of my diet (leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, omega-3-rich seeds and nuts, plant-based fats).
This distinction became especially clear during our visit to the states.
In the US, food that fits my diet is so easy to come by. We’ve visited a Whole Foods in every state we’ve been through and I feel like I’m at an amusement park. So many vegan, keto-friendly snacks with organic ingredients! Pre-made vegan cheese! Crackers made from organic flax seeds! Plant-based cauliflower pizza crust!
Somewhere along the way I became so excited by the many many options of things that I “could” eat because they fit the labeling constraints of my diet, that I put less emphasis on the things I “should” eat because they are healing for my body. Sure, I was able to make an entire vegan pizza with 17 grams of net carbs – but it had nowhere near the nutrition of a bowl of cruciferous vegetables smothered in raw garlic, sauerkraut and flaxseed oil.
Ultimately, I don’t think much damage was done. I gained about two pounds over the course of our month in the states but even this was reassuring. In his book Beating Cancer with Nutrition, Dr. Patrick Quillin claims that 40% of cancer deaths are caused by malnutrition, not the cancer itself. It’s nice to know that much of my my recent weight loss can probably be attributed to my cleaned up diet and not a result of this wasting disease. That is, I’m still in control.
It’s been fun cheating with keto, vegan, organic junk food but I’m eager to get back to my giant bowls of organic veggies and home-fermented probiotics. What I’ve learned is that the best description of my – and any – anti-cancer diet is only eating things that are going to actively improve my health. (That one pizza indulgence actively improved my mental health but there’s no need to finish off the brick of vegan cheese.)
Even so, I’m taking half a suitcase of those flax seed crackers back to Hong Kong.