Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moving towards a plant-based diet

If you have been reading about the food-cancer connection, you may have seen recommendations for shifting to a plant-based diet. I'm new to the topic, so have been trying to determine how well this is backed up by science.

My first contact with this in recent days was reading about Bill Clinton's recent weight-loss using The China Study by Colin Campbell. I started to learn more when I found Meg Wolff's posts on the Huffington Post. People who believe in changing to a plant-based diet can cite all sorts of anecdotal evidence of it working to reverse cardiovascular disease and fight many cancers. Yet there are still doctors who do not support the drastic changes this approach represents for most people, who instead just want us to "eat healthier" and manage our weight.

So how do we decide what works best for us? At this point, I've decided to start making gradual changes and continue to research and talk to my health care providers. I'm increasing the quantity and variety of vegetables I eat and cutting back on animal protein. I try to satisfy my sweet tooth with fruit. I will still consume dairy (I'm allergic to nuts so don't tell me to drink almond milk) but in smaller amounts; I make my own yogurt and love cheese, but I will make sure to monitor my portions and opt for lower fat versions whenever possible. I will continue to eat flax seed, but limit my intake to a couple of tablespoons a day. I still have my morning latte, but drink nothing but tea or water for the rest of the day. I am increasing the beans and legumes I consume and opting for whole grains over processed white flour. I am cutting back on my alcohol intake. And, I am getting more exercise.

But in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that after Bunny's soccer practice tonight, we stopped for takeout poutine. Yes we did. Because sometimes you need to share something ridiculous with a couple of goofy boys.


  1. Have you read In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan. The two points I take away from this book is 'eat food, not much, mostly plants' and 'eat food, not food like substances'. A food like substance is something like Gogurt or processed American cheese slices. Eat things your grandmother would recognize not something that has been processed until the end of its life.

    I try to eat more veggies as well. Farmer's market and CSA are my sources. Organic if I can. Salad every night as well.

    Nothing wrong with poutine once in a while....

  2. I am starting to think about how I want to make changes in my diet after chemo ends. I have started eating more fruits and vegetables. Right now dairy turns me off. I think making gradual changes is best. I agree, you have to enjoy those moments with the boys, otherwise what's the point?

  3. Not yet - although I have had passages read to me by an enthusiastic friend. Next on the to read list!

    All good things you're doing, Caroline. I also refer to my handy list of which fruit and veg you really need to eat as organic (grapes, potatoes, bell peppers for example) and which are less important (avocados, onions, mangoes).

    I hate American cheese slices! Never got that at all.

    Thanks for the all clear on the poutine - couldn't do it more often than that! The boys even lost their desire half way through theirs. :-)

  4. Nancy - I hear you about dairy during chemo. For me the secret was frequent little portions of fruit, veg and whole grains throughout the day. I didn't like eating at meal time so I had to find a way to get the food in at other times. So crackers were helpful, along with blueberries and grapes.

    And oatmeal for breakfast!!!

    Have great days!

  5. I am feeling quite good about myself this morning as I made porridge oats (the real thick ones that take 12 minutes to cook) with ground flax seed and dried cranberries...yumm. Dried apricots would be a good addition.

  6. Yay for mush! Remember the mornings when Mom would forget to put salt in the mush? Yuck! Now when Jon makes mush I always ride him about whether or not he remembered to add the salt. :-) He lies but I can always tell.

  7. The only thing worse was when she double salted it..ick!

  8. ICK!!!!!! Too true. You can always add it later but you can't take it away.