Diet, Stress, and Survivorship
Your oncology team is happy with your progress and your status is stable. You may have even come to the point when you finally have the ability to resume some semblance of life without a chemo calendar or routine weekly labs!
One of the, seemingly, easiest ways to jump into a healthy routine that encourages healing and prevents recurrence is to do what healthcare professionals everywhere are recommending for the average American: eat well, exercise, manage stress and maintain some sort of meditative or spiritual practice. It’s a short list, but sometimes, quite a tall order. It’s your life! Make time for yourself, love yourself and treat yourself well – easy concepts to agree to but not always the simplest to put into action or even understand what they ‘look’ like in daily life.
Optimal health for a healthy survivor is equal parts physical, mental and spiritual. Here is a breakdown of what to incorporate into your new routine and why doing this is so important for you as a cancer survivor.
Your daily diet affects all aspects of your health. Real, clean, healthy food can actually help to prevent many diseases. If you are facing a complete diet makeover it can seem overwhelming to think about changing everything you’ve ever believed about food and the relationship you have with it. Or, if you already focus on eating healthy but wonder if there is something missing you can…
Gauge how you feel. Even healthy eaters may experience food sensitivities with an unbalanced, albeit healthy diet. Too much gluten or dairy? Consider modifying things to see how the changes affect you.
If sensitivity isn’t a problem don’t forget about variety, eat the rainbow in fresh vegetables and keep food as clean as possible (organic, non-gmo).
Don’t get overwhelmed. Take advantage of the great resources out there for recipes and healthy eating hacks.
Consult a professional to help guide and ease you into a better and balanced diet.
Numerous studies indicate that exercise greatly contributes to cancer prevention and the prevention of recurrence.
Peace promoting exercise has been studied specifically and is great for prevention. Exercises like yoga, tai chi and qi gong get you moving but in a gentle way. The nature of this type of exercise in general brings a meditative feeling to the process which benefits you mentally as well as physically.
Don't forget about cardio and weight bearing exercise; it not only helps prevent recurrence but combats memory and bone loss.
Personalize it - ask your doctor when and what type of regiment is best for you.
Engaging in a spiritual practice, no matter what your religious affiliation, has been studied at great length and reveals that some sort of routine spiritual observance can increase immunity, protect and heal the body and hence may be a factor in healthy survivorship.
Meditation is a great way to relax and center oneself. Doing so can even change internal body responses like blood pressure and symptoms experienced from stress.
Prayer can be a perfect way to practice gratitude by mindfully acknowledging the good things in life such as a supportive family, close bonds with friends or even your relationship with yourself.
When you tune in to whatever your “divinity” might be it enables you to relax, reflect, let go and heal.
Check out these resources below for more information: