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I know the ketogenic way of eating has helped many people. I’ve seen friends lose all kinds of weight on the diet and the results for weight control and improved health are impressive.
But here’s why I struggle as a cancer survivor who did treatment, juicing, more treatment, more juicing/plant based diet for 18 months, has been clear four years, but whose weight has crept up way too high.
I’ve read with great interest the success many people have found doing the ketogenic diet. It has gained lots of credibility as a way to help prevent cancer, as well as help people already fighting cancer. Based on my previous success with low carb eating (like, over nine years previous) I started doing Keto a few weeks ago and here are my observations for *me* as a colon cancer and cancer treatment survivor.
- I can’t handle the heavy greasy fatty foods like I could years ago when I did low carb. Fried mozzarella sticks and pork rinds were GREAT back then. Now? No way – right through my battered digestive system.
- On the juicing and raw foods plan, the following keto-approved foods were NOT allowed while I was striving to heal my liver and my body through the cancer/recovery from cancer treatment crisis:
- Dairy (including eggs).
- Artificial sweeteners.
- Inflammatory oils and foods fried in them.
- The following foods WERE allowed during the healing crisis plant-based eating plan in a 80/20 ideal ratio, but are not allowed on the ketogenic way of eating (WOE). The plant-based was 80 percent raw foods, and 20 percent cooked foods:
- Whole grains in limited amounts (breads such as Ezekiel sprouted bread, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa).
- The same healthy fats as Keto – avocado, olive oil, almond oil, walnut oil, coconut oil.
- Limited natural sugar. One teaspoon of honey daily.
- Herbal teas.
- Potatoes, both white and sweet.
- NO artificial sweeteners!
- I lost about 30 pounds without trying to lose anything except the cancer; on a raw foods eating plan your body gets to where it wants to be in order to be healthy. I ate when hungry and was very satisfied. My oncologist looked at me when I arrived after three months for our final decision about treatment and said, “I hear that you’ve been losing weight; that’s not good.” He was very serious. He had no understanding that I was 30 pounds overweight (again) at the time of the return of the cancer, and that I lost 30 pounds by eating well and juicing – my body was in the healing mode even with a tumor shutting down my left kidney. Physicians are simply not trained in nutrition as a mechanism for healing.
- My digestive system is missing 8 inches of colon and has been through a lot. In spite of this missing portion of my innards my body still handled the raw foods/juicing just fine. The slowing action of the cooked foods such as Ezekiel bread, oatmeal and rice helped my body function better (stopped the freight train coming through my colon) and I felt good eating those foods.
- At one time I was juicing five pounds of organic carrots and six apples daily (about 48 ounces of juice), and 32 ounces of greens/green drink. I do not do that much carrot juice now (it is sugar, but fine in my personal experience when following the strict cancer crisis diet protocol because you eliminate all other sugar). Green drink makes sense – no sugars. Carrot juice I still do on occasion, sort of a maintenance amount, but I try not to be eating other sugars on a day when I use the carrot juice.
This is a dilemma for me. Some things about both of these very valid eating strategies are complete opposites. And neither option includes chocolate lava cake.
So what’s a cancer and treatment survivor to do when she’s in menopause, happy to be alive, but not able to lose weight easily?
I’m still not sure I’ve got the right answer for my body yet. Or perhaps I do, but I don’t want to acknowledge that I still need to be very careful and disciplined. Disciplined eating is hard!
Here is what I’m striving for as I sort this all out.
- Avoid sugar. Use limited natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup, or all natural stevia as a substitute. No artificial sweeteners!
- Caffeine: I’m debating whether I should cut coffee out entirely, again, like I did for eighteen months on the plant-based healing plan. I enjoy the routine with my husband, but I also know caffeine is a drain on our adrenal glands.
- Dairy: I will enjoy in very limited amounts. I do use creamer in my morning coffee now. I still like ricotta with a drop of stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and topped with whipped cream from the old low carb plan I followed years ago. There are far worse things I can eat now that my body is no longer fighting cancer, but, should also be used very sparingly. Completely a splurge.
- If I want healthy carbs in my life then I need to exercise. I’ve found I like having carbs in the morning. For me this includes Ezekiel bread, oatmeal, etc.
- I need to exercise! This is a challenge for me. Keto says “no exercise required to lose weight, but ideally good to do”. Cancer survivors are encouraged to exercise 30 minutes per day. I like walking, pilates and swimming. I’m not a gym rat and am not motivated by high intensity interval training (HIIT) or cross-fit. They stress me out! I’ve read articles that grueling workouts done long term are actually NOT good for the body. But I need to do better at moving in some way every day!
- Veggies, especially greens, should be unlimited.
- Fruits should be enjoyed in moderation, although I love a lot of pineapple for it’s anti-cancer properties and the benefits for my lungs. So clearly pineapples are abundant in good properties, but they also are not low carb!
- Essential oils have a place in my personal wellness-after-cancer plan. Young Living essential oils have helped support some of the emotional, physical, and environmental factors that influence my health now as a cancer and cancer treatment survivor. Menopause? I’ve found support from Progessence Plus, Clary Sage and Lady Sclareol (aMAZing). Achy body? I’ve found support from Frankincense, Copaiba, Aroma Seiz and more. Stress and anxiety? Support from Lavender, Cedarwood, Valor and Joy. I am eternally grateful for the addition of Young Living essential oils and supplements, savvy mineral make-up and products that are free of harsh chemicals and toxins. This step is a no-brainer for my personal wellness goals and I am excited to be learning more every day and to be able to share with other survivors!
Here is a video showing Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez talking about the ketogenic diet and his thoughts about whether it can cure cancer.
I’m basically back to realizing that the plant-based protocol is what worked for me, and is what still makes sense to maintain my health after cancer. In researching this topic for this post, I came across an article by Chris Beat Cancer and it has helped me solidify my thoughts for my personal goals. Check it out here. Here is the text that caught my attention:
There are thousands of people out there who have healed cancer naturally. I meet natural survivors constantly and even share their stories on this site. Most natural cancer healing protocols involve a radical change of diet and lifestyle that includes overdosing on nutrition with juicing, lots of raw plant food, little to no animal food, supplements, and herbal cleanses along with detox protocols like coffee enemas, etc. Those are all time-tested methods validated by a large body of long-term survivors.
I know a lot of long-term natural survivors, but I don’t know of any long-term survivors who have used a ketogenic diet to heal.
I’ve seen studies where rats on a ketogenic diet lived a little longer, then died… but no long-term human survivors.
And I’ve seen patients try the ketogenic diet and it fail them.
So those are my big hang ups.
I don’t care how good the science sounds. Survivors trump scientific theories. And until we have a substantial list of long-term survivors, I cannot in good conscience support ketogenic diet as a viable option for healing cancer.
In summary, I’m not comfortable going full low carb (keto) as a cancer survivor, and completely raw foods and juicing is incredibly rigorous, but I’ve got to incorporate that strategy more in my life and get back to those solid, proven basics. It’s what worked for me.
I think at this time in my journey “balance” is the word of the day, and “portion control”, and gentle, consistent exercise. This is a challenge for me and writing it down here in a post has given me some clarification and motivation and quite honestly admonishment for being lazy. I can use the excuse, “I’ve been through a horrendous cancer experience and I can do what I want,” or I can use the motivation, “I’ve been through a horrendous cancer experience and God has allowed me to be here. I need to make the most of this and continue to grow as a person to be what God wants me to be using proven cancer fighting and healing strategies that work!”
My experience is unique and clearly many people have found wonderful results from the ketogenic diet for health and weight loss support. Personally I am choosing to get back to the plant-base that helped me heal from a time of great crisis through cancer in my life.
How about you? Are you a cancer patient or cancer survivor? What are your thoughts on food and nutrition and how it affects our bodies? I’d love to hear your comments! #goingtomakemorecarrotjuicenow
P.S.: As always, none of my personal comments are intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Only your savvy doctor can do that kind of stuff!