After you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer or cancer in general , you’re understandably concerned about prognosis and treatment. But don’t overlook your diet. Find out why from chef Rebecca Katz…
Your diet should be part of your breast cancer treatment plan.
What you eat during cancer treatment is crucial to your recovery, says Rebecca Katz, self-described “culinary translator.” She’s executive chef emeritus for the Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s Food as Medicine professional nutrition training program in Washington, D.C., and founder and director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal in Bolinas, Calif.
“Studies show that diet and lifestyle changes—can help inhibit malignant growth, mitigate treatment toxicity, improve quality of life, and provide a survivor’s edge. For example, it’s important for breast cancer patients to keep their insulin levels under control. It’s also well known that decreasing inflammation can help reduce cancer growth, boost treatment efficacy, and diminish side effects. “We’re learning that what you eat can have an impact ,” says Katz, who has a master’s in health and nutrition education, “but most people couldn’t tell you how to take two anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric or ginger and incoroporate them into their diets.”
When her father was diagnosed with cancer, Katz didn’t know either.
“I was a trained chef but had no idea how to feed my dad and keep him nourished through radiation treatments,” she says.
Now she does, and she has shared that knowledge in several cookbooks, including The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen (Ten Speed Press). The book offers practical advice on diet and nutrition after a cancer diagnosis.
In this exclusive interview, Katz reveals how people living with cancer, including breast cancer, can cook and live better.
How did you start writing about cancer and food?
I wrote my first book, One Bite at a Time (Celestial Arts, 2004), five years after my father was diagnosed with throat cancer. The radiation treatments made swallowing nearly impossible. I felt utterly helpless. Forget that I was a professionaly trained chef. What did I know about feeding someone with cancer?
At the time, no one was talking about the connection between diet and cancer. I wanted to share my knowledge and help others.
What was your father’s diet at the time?
He loved food, especially desserts, but he didn’t like what refer to as “hippy gruel,” or anything associated with health-food stores like tofu.