Cancer’s Sweet Tooth, And Mine

January 29, 2010 at 11:52 AM (Age, Diet, Energy, Family, Recovery, Treatment) (, , , , , , )

About six months after my heinous surgery for my first recurrence, Mr. Wonderful, needing to DO something about this, hit up for a box of Cancer Nutrition cookbooks. While I spent some time leafing through them when they first arrived, much to his chagrin I didn’t actually implement any of their eating plans, nor did I run out and buy the ingredients for the seven different varieties of kale-and-cauliflower soup. I eat veggies, but couldn’t stomach the thought of vegetarianism or macrobiotic whacko-ness…if these were effective cancer-beaters, wouldn’t we all be living on broccoli by now? Surely there would be a press release, and someone would be trying to make money on it.

My diet isn’t perfect, but we eat very well: lean poultry and fish, with the occasional hamburger or pork tenderloin;  plenty of unrefined carbs and whole grains, vegetables, etc. We don’t eat out often, maybe once a month, and when we do, it’s usually a salad for me (but I’m happy to pick fries from my kids’ plates – no calories if I didn’t order ’em!). I drink only occasionally, eat a healthy breakfast every day, get plenty of exercise, etc. etc.

But oh, the sweet tooth. Raised by a woman who didn’t see the need for dessert after dinner every night, when I reached the age of independence, I started supplying my habit, and haven’t looked back. Now that I have discovered how hard it is to control my weight through exercise alone (thank you, menopause), I do limit myself to the single afternoon diet Coke, and I’ve trained myself to like black coffee. I can go nearly all day without naughty snacks, yet once the kids are in bed, the trolling begins. What am I craving tonight? Four marshmallows (25 cal. ea.)? No, those didn’t do it. Handful of Cinnamon Oat Swirls (130 cal. per 1/2 cup)? Nope. Keep looking… Peppermint Joe-joe? Heavens, no, those are 75 cal. a piece! Maybe a chocolate truffle (60 cal.).  You see my issue.

Last week I read yet another (unconfirmed but footnoted with journals) article on the relationship between tumor growth and sugar. Upon further research, it appears the scientifically-reliable, journal-publishing, study-backed community is still unconvinced that cancer cells gain their evil powers from dietary sugar. But for some reason I felt as if I had crossed some threshhold, some point of maturity that gave me the strength to actually take this final stage of control of my diet. If I cut out refined sugars and carbs (table sugar and processed sweeteners, not honey or maple syrup; white bread and pasta, not whole-grain), maybe I’d give the Avastin a leg up and really knock those tumors down. What harm would there be? I’d still be eating carbs, fruit, veggies, etc., just more of a caveman diet. Not far from where I started, but without the useless sugar. Sure, go for it. You can always quit.

Seven days later, I’m shocked. Not only am I not feeling like I’m making any great sacrifice, I don’t even miss it. See you later, sugar. I started eating completely unsweetened cereal (used to eat Barbara’s Shredded Oats), and found myself, on Thursday morning, noticing the natural sweetness of a walnut. A walnut. I’m having a grapefruit with a drizzle of honey after dinner, and being satisfied, even full, and not looking for more. And some of you will argue that I didn’t have any to lose, which is false, but my (admittedly not bulky) layer of energy stores seems to be fading away FAST. Could it be this easy to keep my weight steady?

WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME THIS BEFORE??? (I’m looking at you, Ed and Mom.)

[I’ll keep you posted on further developments, including the results of my upcoming 2/11 CT scan.]

P.S. Ed, sorry about the cookbook thing. And not doing this in 2008.

P. P.S. Mom, I’m just kidding – I know you’ve been telling me this for years. Would you stop being right all the damn time?

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  1. Ruthann said,

    I am impressed, as I am a sugar nut myself. I like walnuts, I really do, but also like that white stuff far too much. I am going to give it another go, we will see how I do. In the meantime, I hope to find good news posted here after your 2/11 scan. Until then, I will continue reading along your journey and being thankful for you, the one who said I may have a .0001 resemblance to Jennifer Garner. You rock my friend!

    All the best

  2. mom said,

    Yup. Works for me, too.

  3. Ann said,

    Well, being a cancer chick, I can’t relate to the idea of sugar causing cancer.

    I have never had a sweet tooth and am the mom you hate who refuses to eat cake at birthday parties. Cake was never my thing – now offer me some beef jerky and I’m so there. Especially if it’s Obertos Peppered. My cravings right now are for grapefruit, which I peel and eat like an orange – unsweetened. My complaint is too much sugar in everything – it’s really hard to avoid if sugar isn’t your thing.

    I do think that once you get used to something it’s hard to stop, but once you do stop you find it’s not so awful. Maybe someday I’ll stop my salt habit. But, not unless I get high blood pressure. 🙂

  4. Emily said,

    Way to go!! So satisfying to find ways to reclaim your body through diet, exercise, etc. after all the BS that cancer puts us through. Menopause-related weight issues are a BITCH; so glad this plan is working for you.

    Keep up the amazing work!

  5. mynameisnotcancergirl said,

    I’m debating this…it’s not the sugar so much as the simple carbs (I am not domesticated enough to bake my own bread). But, let’s face it, if it’s one more thing that I can help do to keep these crappy little buggers at bay, I’m willing to try it.

    I need to read more…and know more about what is recommended (for example, you mention honey and maple syrup, but what about agave?). I’m good at the veggies thing (been a vegetarian for 28+ years), and when we eat home, I am all over the whole grains. Since the cancer feeds on estrogen, I just cut out almost all soy (veggie burgers and tofu, but not soybean oil…that crap is in everything) without much difficulty. But, with most dinners coming in, and too many lunches out, I’m pretty bad about it when I’m not cooking. Even when eating out, if I order a salad, I usually will eat the accompanying bread and I know that restaurant dressings are loaded with sugar….

    Anyway, rambling. Gotta check out the article. I guess there’s no time like the present to grow-up and stop whining about the sugar, huh?!?

  6. tori said,

    Remember when we were ALL doing the Zone/Atkins thing back at DTAS? I remember it being so hard the first week and then the cravings totally going away…and actually losing weight! I lost all of the billy weight doing no carbs – and then went on vacation to Ireland where one meal with my cousin Clodagh had, I kid you not, “five types of spuds!”. That was all it took! It might be time to revisit it again though. I’m working out every day to no avail and the sight of my belly flab under my sweater and I was leaning back reading stories to the kids tonight made me want to vomit. I’ll let you know how it works.

  7. How To Grow A Tumor « The Carcinista said,

    […] – in the mall, in a commercial, in line at the supermarket? Since I started this little anti-white-poisons kick a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been hearing a lot more about food as anti-cancer medication than […]

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