No-one said it would be easy, but really, does it have to be quite so hard?
If you’re a cancer patient relying on standard, run-of-the-mill information about nutrition and cancer, then chances are that you fall somewhere on a spectrum that goes from bewildered and confused, to frustrated and even defeated.
It’s not easy, is it?
A growing number of health professionals are finding that it’s leaving some patients very distressed. You can see why. It can be tough, in the first place, even to summon up the courage to ask a member of your oncology team about the role of nutrition in supporting treatment and recovery.
Fear of losing support
So when you do ask, and you’re given the standard ‘be sure to get enough calories from a healthy, balanced diet’ line, it can be hard to summon up the will to pursue or even research an alternative to the traditional food pyramid. Especially if you feel you won’t get the support of the people looking after you – whether professionals or family.
Nope, easy it isn’t. And the fact that it can be so hard for some people means that if they think it will work, there’s a chance they’ll go ahead and adopt a low-carb or ketogenic approach anyway, all on their own, with little practical support from a qualified, knowledgeable health professional familiar with these regimes.
This is not ideal – and certainly not something we would recommend – but you can see how it might happen, because when solid evidence for a certain dietary approach is out there (and it is), there’s a good chance people will find it and give that approach a go.
A book with answers
That’s one reason why we decided to write the book. We recognise that there are people out there who ARE doing it on their own, and we wanted to write a practical book that, step by step, answers all the questions we found ourselves asking when we were first diagnosed and, later, when we went through cancer treatment (plus it provides tasty recipes!) and decided to support our treatment by choosing approaches that were not mainstream.
Clinical trials into the effectiveness of a low-carb/ketogenic approach in the management and treatment of certain illnesses should have been carried out decades ago, but until they are (and we’re optimistic they will be), people wanting to try it need all the help they can get. We believe our book can and will help people.
Bust those myths
But like patients themselves, doctors can be confused or misinformed about the approach to food we talk about in this book. Nutrition and cancer is an area of research crowded with facts and figures, some of which appear to contradict each other. It’s no wonder so many of us can fall behind or get confused about what’s what. And it’s fair to say that the ketogenic diet in particular can be hard to get your head round. ‘Is it really okay to eat that much fat’? is perhaps the most common question, but people also worry they’re going to miss out on nutrients, when in fact our approach is to pack as many nutrients as possible into every recipe.
Others mistakenly think keto is a low-calorie diet, but it isn’t. Sure, there are some who take longer than others to get their calorie intake on the right track, but that’s usually simply because they are taking time to adjust to the diet. But most people don’t have a problem finding the calories they need.
So, we know what it isn’t, but what IS it, actually…….this ketogenic diet ‘thing’?
Keto: not a new idea
As we’ve explained elsewhere on this site and in the book, it’s really a metabolic therapy – it switches your body from burning one kind of fuel for its energy, to another. Certain sections of the medical world have known about it for decades too. As British dietician Sue Wood says: ‘Keto is not new …it’s just a returning therapy with a fresh slant.’
Wood, who works at the Matthew’s Friends Clinics in the UK, which treats epilepsy patients, says: ‘‘The ketogenic diet has been in clinical use for almost 100 years…… it’s just that scientists and clinicians are currently taking a fresh look at what it may offer to long-term neurological conditions and also to cancer management. Could the ‘old dog’ be capable of new tricks beyond epilepsy management? Current research is working towards finding some answers to this’.
So, it’s not a new idea; but it’s fair to say that it’s still a bit unfamiliar to some, including many in the medical profession. It’s natural for humans – patients, doctors, families – to resist change, so if you’re going to make a change that many see as pretty big, it’s best to arm yourself with all the knowledge and support you can get. And just remember; like anything unfamiliar, it’s understandable that people might dismiss it simply because they haven’t heard of it. Or because they haven’t seen or read the evidence for themselves.
But once you start reading that evidence, and perhaps giving the diet a go, we believe you can be in no doubt that this is an approach that works, at least for those it suits.
So if you’re looking for information about nutrition and cancer that isn’t the standard, run-of-the mill variety, don’t get discouraged. Get reading (and cooking) instead.