Sunday, March 23, 2014

Deifying Food

[Cross post from Shoshana: Leukemia blog.]

Our journey with food continues to evolve along with Shoshana's recovery. When cancer cells were running rampant throughout her bone marrow and blood stream we did everything in our non-medical power to help her body heal itself, avoiding foods and toxins that would only make recovery more difficult. I even refused to allow her to be fed Pedialyte during recovery from a bout of diarrhea because I didn't trust the brand. Instead, we fed her a dilute orange juice concoction thanks to the dietitian on her case. For the year that she had a feeding tube we made her a homemade "formula" with whole, organic foods rather than using the whey protein and sugar (2nd ingredient!) formula provided by the hospital which caused her heart rate to slowly but steadily increase to the point which the physical therapist did not feel comfortable playing games with her and also cause severe, caustic diarrhea.

Throughout these last 18 months we have done the best we could with the resources we had. Now that things are a little calmer we have more time to contemplate our long-term lifestyle plan. One of the things that has been tumbling through my mind is "why us?" and "why her?" Many of my family members have already had experience with some form of cancer. I, myself, also dealt with a case of "pre-cancerous cells" in my thyroid which threw my body chemistry off so badly I nearly had to drop out of nursing school. For that reason, we had already implemented many of the major "anti-cancer" lifestyle changes such as removing all toxic cleaners and self care products from our home, eating a wide variety of organic vegetables, and growing as much of our own produce as possible. To have our first family case of childhood cancer is frustrating on so many levels, especially since we already have a relatively "clean" lifestyle.

Which gets me thinking: how much more can and should we do from here on out? It would be lovely to have an easy answer of "if only this then that" but life is not that straightforward. Apparently, leukemia is one of the few cancers that has virtually no links with diet. Other than pockets of incidence around nuclear disasters and heavy metals in the soil, it touches every continent, every people group, every culture, every neighborhood virtually equally. Even the Amish people have nearly the exact same amount of risk as the general U.S. population. (CITATION)

Recently I came across an article called "Food Is Not Your God" which summed up my thoughts on the whole foods movement very well. "I’ve sensed something very disturbing in the Whole Foods World…it’s something that has bothered me to my very core and I’m speaking out against it. FOOD IS NOT OUR SAVIOR."

How easy it would be to say that if we only consume these things in this proportion, we will live long, healthy lives. But the world doesn't work that way. According to the Bible, "Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay (Rom. 8:20-21, NLT)." Working so diligently to learn about the links between diet and cancer began to focus my thoughts away from God to me. "If it were true that eating whole foods would keep you healthy and free from tragedy, then a drug addict would never carry a baby to full term…and a one-Coke-per day elderly man wouldn’t live until the ripe old age of 95. Food cannot save you – Jesus can save you (Food Is Not Your God)." 

The conflicting information in the whole food movement is what first started to get my attention. Grains are bad, grains are good, butter is bad, butter is okay as long as you know the cows it came from, all red meat is bad, take two tablespoons asparagus puree morning and night, etc. etc. ad nauseum. We even came across a website that preached raw goats milk as both a preventative a cancer cure. Never mind that Shoshana grew up on goats milk from our backyard!

Clearly, when we eat well with whole foods, lots of vegetables, responsibly grown meats, we feel better. We are generally healthier. But we are not always entirely healthy. Food is not the answer to all our troubles. Jesus is.

Much like the author of the blog I linked earlier, I will continue to learn how to live and eat responsibly for the glory of God but I need to refocus so to give Him all the credit for our good lives, not the food we eat. There are a few principles that we will continue to live by such as avoiding known toxins, eating organically when possible, making the majority of our food at home, and balancing meat and vegetable protein sources. 

Thank you for continuing to walk through this journey with us. It is not over but we are finally getting to the point where we sometimes forget her appointments!

Just for fun, I'd like to share a delicious recipe I found earlier. I made plenty for leftovers as well as the freezer. In general it's hard for me to find yummy freezer meals that aren't full of meat and I want to be prepared for this baby coming up. If my previous pregnancies are any kind of a predictor, we only have about six more weeks until we get to meet little Judah!

Leek Asparagus and Herb SoupI like my soup with a little more texture so I did not puree the potatoes along with everything else so it was a rich and creamy stock with small potato chunks. I also spiced it a little more with some cumin and turmeric. Even the girls loved it!

Irish Cream and Chocolate Silk PieAnd for something on the other end of the health spectrum and in recognition of the recent St. Patrick's day, this recipe is from Wanna Be A Country Cleaver created by a friend from high school. I haven't made it yet but I sure plan to!

P.S. edited above post to reflect completed draft.