I hope you're enjoying your summer. I love this time of year! The longer days and warmer temperatures make me feel so alive. Typically I spend July and August on the coast of New Hampshire. This year, however, is different. As many of you know, I've stepped back from my practice to spearhead my mother's treatment and care for my parents. My Mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March; my father with Amyloidosis in 2015. Neither can be cured but I'm confident that healthy eating, exercise, a positive attitude and daily gratitude will slow the progression of their diseases and allow them to maintain their quality of life for years to come. So far things are working ...
For the past three months, I have shopped, cooked and prepared their food, kept them active, introduced mindfulness, and encouraged writing in a gratitude journal. Throughout this period Mom has endured grueling chemo treatments with few side effects - slight fatigue and hair loss her only complaints. Dad was given double thumbs up last month from his heart specialist. For the first time since his diagnosis, tests showed no progression of his disease. What changed? Mostly their diet as they've always been active, positive and grateful. Gone is all, okay most, added sugar, processed foods, red meat and dining out. All meals and snacks are whole, real food consisting mostly of plants - fruits, veggies, whole intact grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, complemented by wild fish and seafood, eggs, some pastured-raised organic poultry and organic dairy. Despite their illnesses, they are amazed at just how good they feel since changing what they're eating. Converts finally, after all my years of preaching (and begging.)
All joking aside, this clearly is a difficult and painful time in our lives. I was blindsided by their diagnoses and prognosis. I wasn't ready to address their mortality. But, as daunting and scary as their health issues are, there is a silver lining. I am spending countless hours with them - caring for them and simply "being" with them. What a gift this time is. I am so grateful to be able to focus on their well-being - to give them back a small fraction of the love and care they have given me for half a century. We laugh. We cry. We reminisce. We comfort. We share stories and appreciate each other more than ever. We're even planning future travel together, as in years past, refusing to allow cancer or heart disease to rob us of living. In such a strange way, we have found beauty in sickness. There's a lesson here and so as the old adage goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. We're making it by the gallons, trust me; just not drinking it. Lemonade, like most sweetened beverages, isn't good for us despite being considered a healthy alternative to soda. Which brings me to the substance of this newsletter - seemingly healthy foods that just aren't! If you're trying to lose weight, reverse a chronic condition, or simply improve your diet in hopes of aging better, avoid the following foods. They're not doing your heart, arteries or waistline any favors. They also wreak havoc on your mood, energy, hunger and cravings.