Dude. Can we talk about how much all of us are in each other's business about what we EAT?!
Then... add to that a cancer diagnosis and people REALLY want to know what you eat, what you don't eat, and why you do or don't eat something in particular. Whew! It's a lot.
At a recent party someone asked me, "Oh, are you vegan?" I said no.
Someone else said, "Are you gluten-free?" Again, I said no.
Then a third person wanted me to explain my diet.
I flippantly answered, "Actually, I'm Diet Queer.* I don't fit into any category."
*When I told this story to a friend of mine who identifies as genderqueer, they laughed HYSTERICALLY. When I asked them if I could use this term... would others find it offensive? They said, "Oh, absolutely... people will absolutely be offended by the term Diet Queer... but I think it's hilarious, describes what's going on perfectly, and you should totally use it." So... if I have offended you, that was not my intention and I'm sorry.
My definition - denoting or relating to a person who does not subscribe to conventional dietary distinctions but identifies with neither or a combination of vegetarian, vegan, Paelo, Pegan (Paleo-Vegan), whole-foods, clean, primal, raw, gluten-free, grain-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free, GAPS, anti-inflammatory, Blood-type, Budwig, Gerson, Macrobiotic, Ketogenic, Whole30 ...and I'm sure a new one was invented today that I haven't heard of yet.
So before writing this today on September 21, 2016, I Googled the terms "diet queer" & #dietqueer and nothing really came up. Fun! It looks like I may have coined this term!
So to satisfy everybody's curiosity, I will do my best to describe my diet. My Diet! I do not recommend what I eat or don't eat to anyone else because we're all such unique individuals. And this is my diet as of September 2016... it tends to change with the seasons and what I'm craving... but basically it's always organic and always whole-food. So here goes...
In the simplest of terms, it's usually easiest to say that I'm a tofu-free, sugar-free, chemical-free organic vegan that eats WHOLE foods and not highly-processed foods.
- I eat a ton of organic VEGETABLES... including lots found in the Cruciferous and Brassica categories: Arugula, Bok choi, Broccoli, Broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Collard greens, Daikon radish, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnips, Watercress (list citation).
- I eat lots of legumes like Adzuki beans, Black beans, Kidney beans, Pinto beans, Garbanzo beans, Lima beans, Mung beans, White beans, Lentils, miso (fermented soybeans), tempeh (fermented soybeans), and Apricot kernals.
- I like to add seaweed to soups, stews, and beans that I make and have seaweed salads as often as I can.
- I eat good fats/oils like coconut, cold-pressed olive, and avocado, and avoid rancid oils like vegetable, canola, soybean, cottonseed, and safflower.
- I eat non-white rice and other whole grains like wheat, millet, barley, buckwheat, and rye, including Ezekiel Sprouted products.
- I eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, and kefir.
- I eat a small variety of organic fruit like Granny Smith apples, avocados, grapefruit, kiwis, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates, watermelon, pears, peaches, and occasionally 1/2 a banana, 1/2 an orange, a slice of pineapple, a slice of mango, a couple of grapes, and such. I do my best to avoid high-sugar fruits. I try to eat 4 grapefruit each week to slow down the conversion of Estrone to 4-OHE1.
- Every morning I eat cucumbers or tomatoes or bell peppers in addition to a hot porridge of organic oatmeal, organic steel-cut oats, or organic rolled rye or barely or kamut or spelt flakes with 1 Tbsp each of hemp seeds, ground chia seeds, ground flax seeds, ground pumpkin seeds, ground sunflower seeds, and a handful of pecans, walnuts, almonds, or cashews mixed with a small serving of fruit.
- I eat 4-ish organic eggs each week.
- I eat 1 serving of organic grass-fed beef each week.
- I eat 1 serving of wild caught fish or non-farmed seafood each week.
- I eat 1-ish serving of organic pasture-raised chicken each month. I love eating organic pasture-raised chicken livers any chance I get!
- I like to make bone broth from organic grass-fed beef bones.
- I use an unsweetened blend of almond and coconut milks and consume lots of thick coconut milk/cream.
- I consume non-domestic dairy such as butter or cheeses from the EU (like Kerrygold) or New Zealand. (Here's why... news.berkeley.edu/2015/09/15/bovine-leukemia-virus-breast-cancer/).
- I like to have fresh vegetable juices and vegetable-based smoothies that don't have much fruit in them.
- I do not eat refined sugar and rarely consume raisins, dates, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and coconut sugar. Sometimes I use and eat Lily's Extra-Dark vegan stevia-sweetened chocolate and chips. I don't really have a sweet tooth.
- I do not eat processed, ready-to-eat foods except for Amy's Kitchen (and probably other brands like that).
- I do not eat tofu or soymilk (highly processed).
- I do not eat pork (lots of reasons), sushi (parasites), or enriched flour (added chemicals).
Each person that reads this will probably disagree with some aspect of my choices. "There's too much fruit and sugar!" say the people on a Ketogenic diet. "There's too many animal products!" say the people eating vegetarian, vegan, or raw. "There's too many grains and legumes!" say the people on a Paleo diet. "There's gluten and you need to soak your grains!!!" say the people on a variety of anti-inflammatory diets. "There's too many nightshades!" say the people on other various diets. Whew... let's just all eat in peace! Okay?!
I rarely (if ever) sit down to a meal feeling deprived. I love eating and I love the good food I eat. I'm a picky eater not because "cheating" will make me feel sick, but because I do my best to make sure I'm ingesting high quality food. I'd be an omnivore if everything placed in front of me was the highest quality! If you're feeling deprived, there may be an unhealthy relationship with food going on. (Emotional Eating vs. Mindful Eating)
It's best to make food ahead of time so that when you're HUNGRY, there's something good to eat. If I enter the kitchen needing to eat something NOW, I usually grab an apple with some nuts or cheese, spread avocado on sprouted toast sprinkled with sesame seeds, or a carrot or celery with a nut butter (almond, cashew, walnut, etc.). Each time I eat I think about making sure there is enough fat and protein to balance the carbohydrates.
For those of you just getting started on finding the right diet for you, I'd recommend checking out the Environmental Working Group's list of the Dirty Dozen (foods you should always buy organic because of chemical contamination... which includes pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other toxins) and The Clean Fifteen (foods you don't necessarily have to buy organic based on lack of chemical contamination).
If I'm invited to dinner...
Since my husband is vegetarian (he'll occasionally eat eggs and he avoids all seafood) and I'm Diet Queer, we do our best to avoid big meal gatherings so as not to cause a fuss. Ultimately, I prefer to bring my own food. But if the hosts insist, I tell them about Josh's dietary restrictions and suggest they make something without processed foods (like high fructose corn syrup, partially-hydrogenated oils, food coloring, MSG, flavorings, etc.) and think something along the lines of Mexican or Asian or Mediterranean and vegan.
I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I'll be exposed to small amounts of refined sugar, enriched flour, and some nasty chemicals I would never bring into my house. I'm careful about reading menus online before going out. If I can't, I'll eat vegetables... even at the greasiest, middle-of-nowhere diner I can usually order a vegan salad with oil and vinegar and know that my meal before and after this one will balance everything out. Keeping my life as low stress as possible also means not freaking out about things like this... after getting a mastectomy, everything else in comparison is pretty minor, right? #perspective
I know you do. Bring them on! Like quinoa... I don't usually eat it... I don't think my body digests it well so I avoid it. I've done the 96-food IgG panel twice and abide by some of it but not all of it. For 2 years I was gluten-free and dairy-free... for months on end I've been gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free. I think all of us should find a basic whole-foods diet that makes us feel good and then tweak it.
I've cooked lots of creative foods and know my way around all sorts of cravings. As I said before, I don't really have a sweet tooth, so that helps... but am I looking forward to a decadent slice of cheesecake when I live in Europe??? ...you betcha!
Update: June 2017
Since moving to Germany in January 2017, I started doing the Budwig protocol of using low-fat/fat-free quark (or low-fat/fat-free cottage cheese) mixed with flaxseed oil to create a new molecule that aids in the process of cancer cell death. And then in June 2017 I went on a week-long retreat for people after a diagnosis of cancer at Puissentut in France with a focus on Macrobiotics and soy protein. The people who say to "Eat the Dairy!" and the people who says "Eat the Soy!" both have valid points. Which makes the decision of fine-tuning exactly what to eat feel more confusing. Ultimately, eating organic, unprocessed, whole-foods is the foundation and figuring out the details is the after-thought... but the devil is in the details... ha!
I know that my organic, whole-foods diet before the breast cancer diagnosis 2 years ago had NOTHING to do with cancer developing in my body. There can be a lot of shame for those of us given a diagnosis of cancer when we hear people say that following a specific diet can prevent cancer... it can't. Maybe some diets can reduce the risk of cancer developing, but there are far too many factors that play into the development of cancer even when your diet is absolutely pristine (like negative loop-thinking, exposure to heavy metals, suppressing emotions, endocrine-disrupting chemicals in drinking water, poor coping skills for stress, susceptibility to carcinogens in the environment, not expressing inner creativity, a malfunctioning immune system, allowing self-hatred, a high toxic load in the body, and more).
So take care with your words and especially with your words about food... both are meant to nourish us and give us life... not to give us another case of the "shoulds."
Colleen Flowers was given the diagnosis of aggressive Stage 2 breast cancer on June 1, 2015 at the age of 35. She's trained as a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner and does her best to walk the talk. Please explore this site for resources, information, and ideas you may not have been presented with before now. If you like what you see, then subscribe to her newsletter and consider talking with her. Want to stop making decisions based on running away from fear and death, and base them on walking toward love and life? Book a Consult and Buy a Package for individualized coaching support.