Let’s pause here for some healthy perspective. I’m not suggesting that all myeloma patients never eat a piece of chocolate birthday cake or drink a glass of wine. That’s crazy! This list of foods and supplements to avoid is a basic guideline.
I’ve been receiving emails that sound like they’re from petulant children that don’t want to participate in Michelle Obama’s new, healthy school lunch program. How tragic that it’s in our children’s best interest to eat fruit and vegetables at lunch–and to restrict soda and sugary, processed juices. Must be a communist, left wing conspiracy!
That’s how some of you are acting; it’s understandable. Someone is suggesting you stop eating foods you adore at a stressful time.
Recently, as my father lay dying at home, one of the caregivers asked, “Ted, what would you like for breakfast?” Barely eating at that point, Dad’s response was, “Chocolate cake and ice cream!” I rushed in the room and yelled, “NO! That stuff isn’t good for you, Father!” I instructed the aid to “Get the stone-ground, organic oatmeal that he hates, toss some blueberries on it and since it’s a special occasion, add some soy milk; hold the sugar!”
Really? Of course not! I’m kidding! We served him cake and ice cream for breakfast. He gratefully ate most of it and smiled. At that point, about all he could still taste was sugar; a testament to the power of this wonderful yet insidious food that wasn’t even common in most American’s diet until the last hundred years or so.
Look, two things. first, consumed in moderation, an occasional soda–diet or regular–isn’t going to hurt you. The same goes for a fresh piece of rhubarb pie or even a now demonized chocolate chip cookie. But would cutting back really be so bad? Are you really going to try and argue that processed sugar and acrylamides are good for you?
Secondly, even if you aren’t currently a”healthy diet disciple,” I want you to think about something. Myeloma patients are living longer all the time. Should a bedridden, 88 year old myeloma patient that can’t keep weight-on, or someone recovering from a stem cell transplant who’s only joy is a chocolate milk shake, be denied that pleasure and those calories? Absolutely not!
But even at six years post-diagnosis, my crystal ball tells me I could live another five or six years; possibly even longer. That’s long enough to make it worth trying to modify my lifestyle in a reasonable way–to eat healthier and exercise regularly.
We can debate whether swallowing a bunch of curcumin capsules is going to help keep our myeloma under control is really going to make a measurable difference. But there should be no debate that eating well and keeping our bodies strong can improve our quality of life and even help us live longer; even if you’re a sugar junkie like me!
At the end of the series I’m going to share what I’ve done to improve my diet. Far from perfect–I’m not even trying, to check each and every “do and don’t” box from these lists–but it is working for me so far. I’m trying to improve my diet a little bit at a time, one day at a time.
Which brings me back to my list of foods and supplements that myeloma patients should consider avoiding. See! I’ve added the word “consider.” Happy? Let’s review:
4) Simple sugars
5) Processed meats
6) Too much alcohol
7) Otherwise healthy things not to take with Velcade
10) Concentrated antioxidant supplements
Before I continue with the most controversial one on the list, alcohol, I wanted to focus on a no-no that’s so bad for us I forgot to put-it-down: artificial sweeteners.
Some are worse that others. Sweet’N Low (saccharin) and NutraSweet ( aspartame) should be absolute no-no’s! I drink an occasional Diet Coke; I’ve cut-back from two or three cans a day to two or three cans a week. Sucralose (as in Splenda) isn’t much better.
Truvia may not be so bad but its new; the jury’s still out. For now, that’s my artificial sweetener of choice.
Do I really need to document this? Want proof? Type “artificial sweetener” into the query bars at the top of HelpWithCancer.org and/or MMB and plenty of corroboratory info will pop-up.
What I don’t want to hear is, “See! Told you diet soda isn’t good for you! I’m sticking with good, old fashioned Coke or Pepsi!” WRONG! Cutting all soda out of your diet–except as an concessional treat–is a great first step in eating healthier.
Tomorrow let’s take a closer look at number six on my list: alcohol.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat