Regular readers of bestfit will know that I write about the benefits of food for assisting with anything from a lack of libido or arthritis, to boosting your brain power or improving recovery post workout.
It would appear that I have a mentality and mindset best described as ‘determined’ or ‘stubborn’ when it comes to not being defeated. I can assure you cancer presented nothing different to me than a barrier or hurdle to overcome. I was determined to give my body the best chance of enduring the physical trauma it was about to undergo, and also to give it the best chance of the fastest recovery possible. I am also acutely aware that not everyone would be able to achieve this, but I think more people would achieve a faster recovery given a bit more information and encouragement by the correct people.
When I found out I needed the operation I calculated I had approximately six weeks to get myself as fit as possible for enduring the operation and minimising cardiac risk. I increased my rowing and cycling and by the time I had my pre-op my resting pulse was 38 and my BP was 116/62. As my anaesthetist described, “the stats of an elite athlete!”. I was satisfied I could have done no more.
When it came to planning my diet, I generally eat ‘clean’ most of the time anyway. Of course, I have treats and I enjoy myself with friends and family socially and I felt it was important to maintain that psychologically at this time. Some friends found it hard to be with me, they were unsure how to act, but I maintained a 90:10 or 80:20 ratio of clean eating and clean treats.
I set about planning a post-op menu for two reasons: knowing what shopping would need to be done and knowing I would be eating foods that would aid and not hinder my recovery. I concentrated on antiinflammatory, pain relieving, increased repair foods, for the full two-week menu. You can visit my blog, www.medicinalkitchen.wordpress.com, to find out more but here are a couple of examples of some of the kinds of things I was eating…
I have a mentality and mindset best described as ‘determined’ or ‘stubborn’ when it comes to not being defeated.
Salmon and goji berry omega curry
This recipe was an absolute godsend; it contains opium sourcing poppy seeds, which as I am sure you can gather from the name is the plant source from where a multitude of painkillers are derived. The presence of this in my diet meant that after the third day I took no prescription medication at all. The remainder are in my cupboard in case my injury prone rugby-playing brother needs any emergency medication!
1tbsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 8 garlic cloves, 3 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp turmeric, 150g tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, 2 green chillies, ½ tsp sukrin gold, salmon, 50g goji berries, 25g coriander and lemon juice.
Chicken and kale warm salad
Ease of preparation is definitely a consideration if you have been through an operation or you have an injury, you might want or be able to spend hours at a stove or slaving in the kitchen. Which is why this warm salad is both delicious and nutritious. It offers good fats for healing and phytochemicals and phytonutrients in the beetroot, which are shown to increase blood oxygenation. Plus, it also has an invaluable source of protein and BCAA’s in the chicken, which aids recovery. The kale is an excellent green veg to include. Dairy products post op can sometimes inhibit the kidney function that helps you hold onto vital water, but can also hinder removal of waste products from the body, therefore I stick to a plant-based almond milk dressing.
Chicken fillet cooked in garlic and fenugreek, kale, 2 beetroots, chopped walnuts, goat’s cheese and Alpro chive sauce.
“You’ll see I did some positive post-operative images to show people what is possible”
Anti-inflammatory and pain relief smoothie
If you don’t particularly feel like eating, you can sip away at this and still reap the benefits of the pain relief and the anti-inflammatory ingredients.
1/2 cup coconut flesh, 1 cup frozen cherries, 8 basil leaves, 1-2 cups coconut water and 1 tbsp hemp.
Pain relief protein porridge
I use @Geneticsupp vegan protein, but you could use any of your own substitutes. I throw all these ingredients into a slow cooker and leave for three or four hours, stirring occasionally. You can adjust the measurements to your own taste and needs.
3 x 25g scoops of amaranth flakes, 3 x 25g scoops of millet flakes, 3 x 25g scoops of quinoa, 1 x 25g scoop of blue poppy seeds, 2 tins reduced fat coconut milk, 1/4 to 1/2 cup stevia (taste dependent, I use 1/4 and add the zero syrup as I don’t like it too sweet!), 700ml to 1 litre of water (or use the empty coconut milk tin and use this measure twice), 3 dessert spoons of Steenbergs pumpkin spice mix, 1/2 cup raw cacao powder (Rainforest foods), 2 dessert spoons of butterscotch flavour zero syrup from The Protein works.