The holidays are here! Winter is soon to arrive according to the calendar, though in many places the weather has already delivered the cold and snow associated with this season. I appreciate the changes in weather as change is so much a part of life. We grow, change jobs or live in a new apartment or home, find new friends, associations with colleagues grow and change, favorite stores or restaurants become reasons to explore our environments and so many other ways that change is part of living life.

But some changes are not chosen they are given to us without our choosing. I am writing this email to discuss a change given to me that is a journey I walk with many of you who are my clients.

What is it about cancer that causes fear, makes life seem not only short but sadly short? Or if you suffer with a chronic illness, how do you reduce the “suffering” and get back to enjoying all that life has to offer? I have been blessed with an 18 year journey free of cancer! That initial diagnosis was of an aggressive and deadly cancer. My journey is known by many and it included learning to find and use specific foods that make cancer difficult to thrive. Aggressive in my body was changed to living a thriving life and learning even more about the wonders of foods, cooking by pursuing a master’s degree, pass a national board exam and become a Certified Nutrition Specialist ®. It is in sharing this knowledge with many of you, my clients, and many more who read my blog or FaceBook page that is the gift of being challenged by a diagnosis, taking the journey to learn even more as a benefit to you.

I have been surprised by a recent diagnosis of metastatic cancer. Has my nutrition approach failed? NO, not at all! But as my doctor noticed it has changed an aggressive, deadly cancer to something slower disease that is highly treatable. While a medical team will help me manage this diagnosis, I am already giving my body the best support of foods-as-medicine that many of you as clients are being taught to use to improve your health. Depending on fresh foods to strengthen and support immune function is the foundation of physical support for the body no matter what your diagnosis or treatment plan from your doctor.

Miracles and hope for any cancer diagnosis require eating foods that feed the health of your cells and strengthen immune defenses in the body. It also requires giving up foods that promote and feed illness. Regardless of your diagnosis limiting your health, there is a lot the body can do when given nutritional tools that strengthen immune defenses, repair damaged cells and build up this desired goal for a long and healthy life.

I am a big believer in eating all the colors of vegetables as possible. I am a fan of fresh fruit, but limit your intake to 1-3 pieces per day due to sugar content. Cancer and chronic illness loves to have you eat sugar and any processed food with added sugars. Please don’t misunderstand this statement; the body needs the unique nutritional phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, minerals and cancer fighting properties unique to fruit. The problem is that we would rather grab a piece of fruit when hungry than a carrot. Rather than eating a ready made fruit salad high in sugar, make yourself a green salad with colorful vegetables and add a protein to sustain your energy.

It is this category called vegetables that hold the fighting power needed by the body to defeat illness. So if you have been raised to ignore vegetables or assume that all leafy greens taste terrible due to being fed a mush of cooked spinach or other leafy green, then find someone to teach you how to make simple, easy meals based on vegetables and leafy greens. However, the only way to enjoy getting back into the kitchen is you have to buy those vegetables at the grocery store to have them in your refrigerator ready to use. But, ready to use means taking the time to wash all your vegetables the same day you bring them home. Once washed, your refrigerator contains “ready to eat” produce. Snacking can now include reaching for a vegetable just as you would a fruit. Cooking is easier too, no more washing a vegetable every time you cook; just find the veggie you want to use and you can begin any recipe with none of the washing as prep time.

My favorite “Easy Stir Fry” is to take ANY 5-6 vegetables, chop all veggies, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt to a frying pan, heat at a medium temperature (to avoid any smoking of the oil). Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, green pepper and a leafy green like kale or collard greens. Or mix it up with other options like chopped sweet potato, zucchini, yellow or red beet, a leaf of collard greens or kale, and so much more. The cooking secret is adding the onion first, then the hard veggies which includes the stem of a leafy green (carrot, beet, potato, until just softened, then the softer veggies (celery, peppers, squash, etc.), and last is the leafy green. Once the greens are tender the stir fry is done! Always delicious and always easy. Total chopping and cooking time is 15-20 minutes.

The holiday season is a time of special foods. It is also a time to keep yourself nourished. Let yourself enjoy simple food that is all about the vegetables. And if cooking is scary, ask for the gift of cooking classes or even a service like Blue Apron that gives you recipes with the foods provided as easy to prep and cook. I hope this gets you started using your kitchen more.

Merry Christmas! May you enjoy all the gifts that matter: family, friends and the best of whole, fresh foods to keep you enjoying many more celebrations as you life a healthy life regardless of your diagnosis.

Contact me in January if you want to begin changing your health to hope!