We’ve all been there. You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you just want to find something to eat. With today’s busy lifestyles, it’s easy to prioritize convenience over nutrition when shopping for groceries. But when you realize that food quality plays a critical role in your overall health – particularly if you’re a cancer patient – or shopping for one – it only makes sense to plan ahead and shop accordingly.
Let me tell you that it CAN be done. I’m a 37-year Stage 4 cancer survivor and I learned the long, hard way how to fight and win the battle against cancer. I learned which foods promote health and which ones tear it down. I also learned how to cook – and to shop. I discovered that the healthiest, freshest foods are often found on the outer aisles of the grocery store. And even then, you need to know what you’re looking for.
As I wrote about in my book, I Used to Have Cancer, here are some tips for choosing healthy, cancer-fighting foods.
Toxic Foods to Avoid
Processed Foods: Avoid processed foods that contain additives such as MSG, trans fats (partially hydrogenated oils), chemical preservatives, and artificial sweeteners and. Always choose organic fruits and vegetables as non-organic fruits and vegetables often contain pesticide residues.
Sugar: Cancer thrives on sugar, so it is crucial that all forms of sugar be eliminated from your diet. This includes sugar in all its forms: white sugar, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, raw sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, molasses, maple sugar, honey, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, synthetic sugars, such as sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol, Nutrasweet, Equal, and alcohol.
Harmful Proteins: Limit animal proteins, specifically red meat. Instead, consume small portions of white meat chicken, turkey, and wild-caught white fish as a form of lean protein sources. Beans and legumes may also serve as plant-based protein sources.
Foods That Fight Cancer
Organically-grown Leafy Greens: A large amount of leafy greens, such as kale, collard greens, daikon greens, lettuce, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, and watercress, are recommended. The chlorophyll they provide helps to detoxify your body.
Cruciferous Vegetables: Consuming organic cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussels sprouts is a smart way to detox the body of heavy metals and synthetic estrogens.
Sea Vegetables: Kombu, wakame, nori, dulse, and arame are examples of sea vegetables that contain compounds which have been shown to suppress cancer cell growth and prevent metastasis.
Fermented Foods: Almost any vegetable can be fermented, a natural process that makes them high in probiotics. Probiotic-rich foods help to promote good digestive health and boost your body’s immunity. Try adding daily servings of organic miso soup, kimchi, and sauerkraut (I love Bubbi’s brand). When buying fermented vegetables, look for the words “raw, unpasteurized” on product labels.
Herbs: Add herbs like cilantro, garlic, and onions – which are natural chelators of heavy metals – as part of your daily diet.
Spices: Choose spices like turmeric and cinnamon that boast anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.
Beans and Legumes: Adzuki beans, chickpeas, and lentils are excellent plant-based protein sources with potential cancer-fighting capabilities.
Nuts and Seeds: Raw almonds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and other nuts provide essential vitamins and antioxidants.
Healthy Oils: All oils should be unrefined and GMO-free. For daily cooking, dark or light sesame oil is recommended. Safflower oil, olive oil, macadamia oil, and walnut oil are fine for occasional use.
This list is just a sample of the extensive list of suggested foods from Chapter 10 of my book, I Used to Have Cancer. The chapter, “Fight Like Your Life Depends Upon It” details the diet that helped me make a sharp turnaround in my deadly diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer.
Making conscious, informed choices when shopping at the supermarket can have a powerfully positive impact on your health if you’re dealing with cancer. By selecting non-GMO and organic options whenever possible and prioritizing cancer-fighting foods over less healthy ones, you can help strengthen your body’s natural defense systems and increase overall well-being.
A Word About Eating Out
There are times when eating out is unavoidable. Your best option will often be a restaurant that serves organic, locally grown or farm-to-table foods. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need for your special dietary requirements. Most of these types of restaurants will try to be sensitive to your needs. I felt so strongly about this that I made this a focus of my Wellness Foundation. Check out The Templeton List to find a restaurant near you that meets our strict standards.
Kris-Etherton PM, Hecker KD, Bonanome A, Coval SM, Binkoski AE, Hilpert KF, Griel AE, Etherton TD. Bioactive compounds in foods: their role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Am J Med. 2002 Dec 30;113 Suppl 9B:71S-88S. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(01)00995-0. PMID: 12566142.
Vanduchova A, Anzenbacher P, Anzenbacherova E. Isothiocyanate from Broccoli, Sulforaphane, and Its Properties. J Med Food. 2019 Feb;22(2):121-126. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2018.0024. Epub 2018 Oct 27. PMID: 30372361.
Borzì AM, Biondi A, Basile F, Luca S, Vicari ESD, Vacante M. Olive Oil Effects on Colorectal Cancer. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 23;11(1):32. doi: 10.3390/nu11010032. PMID: 30583613; PMCID: PMC6357067.
Ruan BF, Ge WW, Lin MX, Li QS. A Review of the Components of Seaweeds as Potential Candidates in Cancer Therapy. Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2018;18(3):354-366. doi: 10.2174/1871520617666171106130325. PMID: 29110623.
Zhang K, Dai H, Liang W, Zhang L, Deng Z. Fermented dairy foods intake and risk of cancer. Int J Cancer. 2019 May 1;144(9):2099-2108. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31959. Epub 2018 Dec 3. PMID: 30374967.
Jiang TA. Health Benefits of Culinary Herbs and Spices. J AOAC Int. 2019 Mar 1;102(2):395-411. doi: 10.5740/jaoacint.18-0418. Epub 2019 Jan 16. PMID: 30651162.
Muthyalaiah YS, Jonnalagadda B, John CM, Arockiasamy S. Impact of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) and its receptor (RAGE) on cancer metabolic signaling pathways and its progression. Glycoconj J. 2021 Dec;38(6):717-734. doi: 10.1007/s10719-021-10031-x. Epub 2022 Jan 22. PMID: 35064413.