Detox January and Cancer Nutrition

I was delighted when Nicola, the G-free Mom invited me to join her D-tox January.  Eating (much) more in the way of fruits and veggies is very powerful for preventing cancer and keeping our bodies healthy.

Her mission touches my heart on a variety of levels.  I do teach cancer nutrition classes, and have for the past 6 or so years.  I also had my own cancer scare almost two years ago which was both humbling and terrifying. At the end of the day, most of us have people who we love who have been touched by cancer one way or another.  So rather than sharing a recipe, I wanted to do something slightly different share my recommendations and favorite websites for people with cancer, people post-cancer, or just plain people who like good, tasty food. 😎

Here are my favorite tips for people undergoing cancer or wanting to avoid it.  Please note that people with different kinds of cancers do have different needs, but these are overall themes:

  1. Enjoy a variety of fruits, veggies, grains, beans, and nuts daily.
  2. Eat unprocessed foods (whole foods) as often as possible.
  3. Try for a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables.
  4. Cut back or eliminate sugar.  Instead, use a small amount of fruit juice, stevia, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc.
  5. Buy organic produce as often as possible, especially for the “dirty dozen” (for more info, see
  6. Eliminate or limit animal fats, like butter, cream, lard, and red meat, especially ones from animals that are conventionally raised. (Research this is particularly important for people with cancer, especially breast cancer).
  7. Shift to healthier cooking oils, like olive or grapeseed oil and some nut oils, too.
  8. Relax when you eat and ENJOY your food.
  9. Don’t hesitate to lean on your friends and family.  Many people want to help because it makes them feel useful, so let them know what you need!
  10. Add fish high in omega 3s into your diet twice weekly.
  11. Eat with the seasons.  Seasonal fruits and veggies are tastier, healthier, and usually even cost less.
  12. Pack small healthy snacks and keep them with you.
  13. Stay hydrated!
  14. If you decide to indulge, keep guilt to a minimum.  You actually don’t get extra points back for beating yourself up.


World’s Healthiest Foods Great information on healthy foods and preparation

American Institute for Cancer Research You can sign up for weekly recipes

Caring for Cancer

Cancer project

Cancer RD/Diana Dyer

Cancer dietitian

Good links for largely plant based meals:

Meatless Monday:

Dr. Weil

The magazine for vegan family recipes

Two vegan online cookbooks

Free downloadable books

Eating Vegan

Fat Free Vegan blog

Nutrition MD

Run by a vegetarian advocacy group

Cancer cookbooks:

Rebecca Katz’s

  • One Bite at a Time
  • The Cancer Fighting Kitchen

David Servan-Schreiber

  • Anticancer, A New Way of Life

Julia B. Greer

  • The Anti-Cancer Cookbook

About Cheryl Harris

Life played a funny trick on me. I've studied nutrition for years, and much to my surprise, found out that I could manage many of my health issues via diet. I've been GF for years, and I've got a bunch of allergies and sensitivities. But it definitely doesn't keep me from cooking, baking and enjoying my food. Thanks for stopping by.
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12 Responses to Detox January and Cancer Nutrition

  1. I enjoyed reading your post, you can never be reminded to eat healthy too many time, esp after the holidays. Thanks for all the great links!


  2. Cheryl-This looks like a recipe for good health. You’ve compiled some great resources.

  3. Cheryl. This is phenomenal!!!! I wish I had had this summery and these great links 2 years ago. Am going to send to my local Cancer Care center for them to link to as a resource. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!

    Nicola x0

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  5. Heather says:

    What a great list! I’d love to print it and tape it inside my pantry as a reminder. We’re already doing so many of the things on the list, but we can always do more. Thanks for the resources.

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  7. Christine M. says:

    This is generally good advice, though I do take issue with a couple of points.

    1) Fruit juice and agave nectar are undesirable sources of sugar unless you’re diabetic. Their sugar content is primarily fructose, which is a hepatotoxin.

    2) A large (300k+ participants) recent study shows no association between animal fat consumption and breast cancer risk. Other research is also calling into question the “common wisdom” that saturated fat contributes to heart disease.

  8. Nicola,
    thanks for inviting me and thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for your comments, thoughts and links!
    I suggested cutting back or eliminating sugars and only having small amounts. The common comment I get is that not only are people going through a super rough time, but they’re asked to eliminate their very favorite foods which have been a life long source of comfort. A “small amount of fruit juice” is totally appropriate, and hepatotoxicity is not an issue unless there are fairly large amount of agave (or honey, or fruit). In cancer, like in diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels stable is ideal to minimize production of insulin, which causes cells to grown and divide. I posted on agave here.
    I qualified the info on animal fats and breast cancer because I agree with you that for most people, unprocesssed animal saturated fats may not be a problem. However, most of the research to date DOES link breast cancer with fat consumption, and one study alone (even a big one!) isn’t enough to change overall recommendations. As the study authors write:
    “We conclude by emphasizing that this EPIC study was unable to consistently identify intake of meat, eggs, or dairy products as significant risk factors for breast cancer; nevertheless, the difficulties discussed above all militate toward a null result, so the lack of consistent association of consumption of animal products with breast cancer risk should be interpreted cautiously”. I’d rather give overly cautious advice based on trends since the ’70s we’ve seen than stick with one new study.
    I would imagine that in the next few years, saturated fats will no longer be seen as the villain and, like you, do assume that processed, conventionally grown meats will end up being the main culprit.

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  10. Ricki says:

    Great advice–thanks so much for this concise summary and these guidelines. I’m wondering what your stance is on coconut oil (I should remember from your recipes, but my mind is too foggy these days!). As a sat fat, it’s often categorized with animal fats, but as you know, other research says it’s healthy. You probably also know that I use it all the time! Your thoughts?

  11. Jeanette says:

    I just came across your site and am so excited to have found you. I have a similar interest in healthy eating as a means of preventing diseases, including cancer, as well cooking for people who are undergoing cancer treatment. Looking forward to following your blog.

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