Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You are what you eat

Posted by Maggie

I mentioned that one aspect of what I'm doing to fight the cancer is diet. For those who are interested, I'm following a diet called the ketogenic cancer diet.

I've always been a believer in paying attention to what you eat. "Garbage in, garbage out," doesn't just apply to data. It makes sense that if you put junk food in your body, your health will not be as optimal as if you don't.

In the early '70s I was a strict vegetarian. My daughter's hyperactivity was controlled better by removing meat, sugar and preservatives from our diet than any drug that could be given her. We remained on that diet for many years, and while we did not consume refined sugar, we did use honey and lots of fruit. We also ate dairy products, and eggs.  Looking back, if I had it to do again, I'd cut back on those.

As time passed, the children in the house grew up and made their own choices, which included adding meat back into their diets. I eventually began eating fish and chicken but never touched red meat again.

For years I was misdiagnosed with regard to stomach problems, until just a few years ago when I found I had celiac disease (inability to tolerate any form of wheat or gluten) and an intolerance to dairy products, particularly casein. I've gotten that under control, and while it's not an easy diet to maintain, it
is worth it to feel healthy.

Then came the cancer. One thing I read was that people who have had long-untreated celiac disease have a higher probability of developing certain cancers. It is frustrating to think I could have missed this, with a proper diagnosis earlier, but that's water under the bridge now.

My current diet eliminates all grains, not just wheat. The theory of the diet is that cancer cells feed only on sugar and carbohydrates. If those are not present in the body, the cells have no food and begin to die. In one of the many studies done on this diet, a patient had significant (80%) tumor reduction size in 6 weeks. Of course, if you go off the diet, you feed the cells and it can grow right back, so there has to be other treatment, such as radiation and chemo.

I started the diet on January 2. I did not start radiation and chemo until January 23. On January 25 I felt my toes and was able to move them. My radiologist doctor was amazed, but did not expect much further. He certainly did not expect to see me walk, which he saw yesterday. (Okay, just a few feet, and with the walker, but hey, I am getting around!)   I doubt he spent 20 minutes studying diet in medical school, so I did not expect him to agree with my thought that it's the diet that's begun the shrinking of the tumor. But I believe it's true.

So what do I eat? My main goal each day is to consume zero sugar and zero carbs. The diet allows a few, but I find a goal of zero keeps me on track. I eat eggs, avocados, good fats --tumors can't feed on fat--chicken, fish, and unstarchy green vegetables. Nut and seed flours replace grains, and I use a minimal amount of them.  Sound boring? It is not. Everything is freshly prepared, as no mixes or pre-prepared foods are trustworthy. Flavors are great, I eat small amounts every 2-3 hours and am rarely hungry. So far I have lost only about 10 lbs. and most of that was in the hospital.  Not losing weight at this stage is critical as I have no reserves. It's kind of nice having people tell me to eat!

Some months ago, my daughter Amy, who also cannot eat wheat, gluten, or dairy, and I began working on a web site that will offer a variety of allergy-free diet plans and lots of recipes. Her diet and mine were similar when we began this, and her two daughters have the same intolerances we have plus others. We've had fun testing new recipes and making improvements during the two weeks she's been visiting to help me transition into my treatment.

We planned to launch the site this winter. Now we've delayed it to build a section for recipes for the cancer diet. We plan to take the site live within a couple months. I'll post a link when it goes up, for those of you who might be interested.

Meanwhile, on the art front, we set up a new painting space for me yesterday. I have too many doctor appointments today, but tomorrow I hope to paint and then post a blog with my setup and painting to share with you.


  1. Maggie, you are amazing, that's all I can say...

  2. Maggie, cancer is no test for you, you are plugging away and I fully expect to see you walking with no problem by June. Can't wait to see your new web site as my grandson has allergies to dairy, eggs, and nuts of all kinds. We've been through the gluten free stuff too which makes it really difficult for a little guy to get all the nutrients he needs. Keep up the great work - looking forward to your art posts too!

  3. Thanks for sharing this Maggie.Valuable information.

  4. Maggie, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I recently had a close artist friend go through treatment for non hogkins lymphoma, thankfully successfully, and I think positive thoughts and energy helps a lot. So, I'm sending mine to you.

  5. I am so proud of you and your fighting spirit ... though I would expect nothing less. This was a very interesting post, and I enjoyed hearing about some of the diet issues. It does make so much sense. I look forward to hearing more and then the launch of the web site. My daughter has been going through hell because of hives, and excema, and is on medicine (has been for a couple of years) and they have moved her to a level of dosage and type that they must check her kidneys very often. She has been taken off various of the items you mention above. I want her to read your blog and she might see some things to discuss with her doctor... or research herself. Thanks Maggie. I'll keep you and family in my thoughts and prayers!

  6. Such an interesting and informative post Maggie and good for you for posting it, it will surely help others. My family cannot have gluten or casein either, we are not Celiac's but do have Gluten sensitive genes and what a difference it has made in all of our lives to exclude it from our diets. I look forward to your website when you and your daughter get it up as I am always wanting to learn more about this very important and health. I do think that food is at the culprit of all diseases...and I'm impressed with your willingness to make the necessary changes in your life to get rid of the cancer. I believe you will be successful...wishing you all the best, I include you in my daily prayers, and am glad to read that you are having some improvements, and no doubt the diet is huge in this area...absolutely!! You just keep on going have lots to do and you will do it!! :) Linda Ellis