Susan Landmann has been on a low-fat, largely organic diet since her treatment for TNBC, which was diagnosed in August 2009. She has been conscientious about her diet, and here’s photographic proof of her seriousness of purpose: a refrigerator brimming with beautiful healthy goodies. Yum. But Susan is sick of it. She is about one carrot stick away from chucking the whole thing. And you know what, if you are too severe with yourself—if you do not allow yourself a treat once in a while—chances are good your diet will not last.
First, let’s be clear on the definition of diet. A true, healthy diet refers to the way you plan to eat for the rest of your life. It is not a short-term thing until you reach some goal–lose weight, get three years beyond TNBC. It is forever. A cancer-beating diet should be low in fat, high in veggies and fruits, with lots of nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
But most people cannot sustain this without a break every now and then—some fat, some sweets. As long as you do not go overboard, some goodies occasionally can actually help you stay on track.
But here is what I have noticed recently. I seriously fell off my diet for a month or two—the lure of French fries, cookies, and red meat just got to me and, after five years of being a hard-core healthy eater, I returned to some bad habits. You know what else returned? The headaches that used to bother me. The pain in my head is pretty immediate and clear proof from my body that it preferred the healthy fare. It is true that eating well has long-term benefits for our health, but it also has some great short-term benefits in how we feel. I have more energy, a better attitude, and fewer headaches when I choose not to chew the fat.
Still, severity is never a good thing. Eating healthy can mean some treats every now and then. Moderation is such a reasonable concept.
And another thing: Susan’s refrigerator is a lot cleaner than mine.