Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Attack Of The Food Police

I gained a pound yesterday. This morning I weighed 126. I'll take it. I wish I'd taken a picture of the scale, but you'll just have to take my word for it. So far so good.

One issue with my eating habits that I forgot to mention in my last post is that, since I had cavities filled last October, my bite has not felt right. I went back to get it fixed once, but it's still uncomfortable to chew anything hard or chewy on my left side. I have an appointment for a cleaning next month, so I'm hoping they can fix the problem permanently then.

I am a huge bread lover. I normally have bread with every meal. And not the stuff that comes pre-sliced in a plastic bag, either. Only chewy artesian bread with a hard crust is good enough for me. Whole Foods has completely spoiled me for bread. Their organic French Boule is my go-to bread. Baked right there in the store. And the fact that we have one right behind our house makes it easy for me to keep this standard.

But lately, I haven't been eating bread a lot of times when I normally would, just because it's too hard to chew. That's been another factor in my desire to eat, and my weight loss, I think. Even things like the thin tortilla chips I like so much at Wahoos Fish Taco because they have little or no salt on them can be uncomfortable to chew, which makes going there less fun for me. I discussed my dental issue with my nutritionist, and she agreed that I need to get that problem resolved to be able to stay at my goal weight long term. Anything that decreases my desire to eat is a bad thing. But I don't want to go back to the dentist just for that. I just don't like going there. So that can wait until April.

But none of that is what I wanted to talk about today. I should have known the kind of reaction I might get from my last post. There were many "helpful suggestions." None of which were actually helpful. In fact, many of them came off to me as rather bossy.

In the comments of the Facebook share of my last post, people started telling me I shouldn't drink the Carnation Breakfast Essentials my nutritionist recommended because they have too much sugar in them, or they're too processed. Links were posted on my timeline about why I shouldn't drink the protein shakes that helped me gain my weight back a year ago. Not to mention the cheap ice cream I was adding to the protein shakes.

Frankly, I found many of these comments infuriating, as well-intentioned as they may have been. There was an entire thread of comments that I found it necessary to delete, because I felt I was being talked down to in the comments of my own post, on my own timeline. NEVER eat this. NEVER drink that. BAD for cancer. Bad, bad, BAD! This in spite of what my nutritionist, whom I trust, had just told me.

For a while, I debated one person in that comments thread that I eventually deleted. The point I made was simple. My PSA number right now speaks for itself. If those little bottles of enriched chocolate liquid were really that bad for my cancer, I said, my PSA number would not be the lowest it's ever been right now, .06. I've been drinking them for a year, and my number keeps going down. So to me, that argument holds no water at all.

Another part of the debate was over sugar. But the same answer applies. If the amount of sugar I'm consuming was really feeding my cancer as much as some say, my PSA would not be .06 for a Stage 4 prostate cancer patient who still has his prostate.

And by the way, I can't very well avoid sugar when I'm going into the ice cream business, can I? I can avoid cheap candy and soft drinks, and other sources of high fructose corn syrup, but ice cream is non-negotiable.

But before long, I grew tired of debating, and deleted the thread. I understand that most of these comments are meant to help, but I didn't find them helpful at all. Neither are the suggestions that I should just stuff myself all the time. Anyone who thinks I could actually do that hasn't been paying attention.

There were many supportive comments, however, and I'm grateful to all of you for your support. And there was one hilarious one from my friend Dan Cole. He said, and I quote:

I make a smoothie out of dandelions and baby goats milk yogurt that I harvest from my back yard. And then I throw in a mixture of kale, corn stalks and free range marmoset meat. Mix it all up. Mmmmmm. And then I dump it straight in the toilet and go get a nice craft beer with a cheeseburger.

I hate the food police.

If there's anything I can't stand, it's a cancer blogger who's funnier than I am. Just kidding. Dan's comment made my day. After I'd deleted the thread I found most offensive, plus another comment or two that were along the same lines, I added this comment. It's not nearly as funny as Dan's. In fact, you can probably sense my anger in it.

I have deleted some comments that I think are inappropriate. Like my friend Dan Cole, I hate the food police. I also really have a problem with people who think they know more than the medical professionals who treat me because they've read some articles on the internet. I appreciate your concern, but I won't be told what to eat or what not to eat by friends in Facebook comments. I'm sorry, but I'll listen to my doctor and my nutritionist before I'll listen to you.

Maybe that was harsh, but it's how I feel. Please understand that this program I'm on is temporary. This is not a lifestyle change. When I had this problem a year ago, once my weight had stabilized at my normal weight of around 130 pounds, I stopped drinking the protein shakes for lunch. I don't really want lunch if I've had a good breakfast. Once I'm back to 130, and I'm back on the four month version of the Lupron shot, I should be able to go back to eating the same way I did before. Which is very healthy, by the way.

One key principle in getting a cancer patient to eat who doesn't have much of an appetite is to find calorie-rich food and drink that the patient will actually consume. Foods that he or she likes, and that are appetizing to the patient. One would think this would be obvious. I'll go hungry before I'll drink a smoothie made calorie rich with avocado or peanut butter. Not to mention free range marmoset meat. But a chocolate milk shake, that I can be talked into. At noon, I'm not hungry for a sandwich if I've eaten a big breakfast at 9:00 AM. But I can drink something liquid that has lots of calories. The protein shake is the best solution for me.

I'm not eating to cure my cancer. I'm eating to try to gain weight. That seems to have gotten lost with some.

Like it or not, the Carnation Breakfast Essentials are here to stay. It's the perfect easy, convenient thing I can have first thing in the morning when I take my pills, or need something in my stomach, but don't feel like eating. When I don't have time to cook for myself or prepare a snack, but need some calories, the combination of a bottle of Carnation Breakfast Essentials and a Clif bar (chocolate brownie, of course) makes a good, quick and convenient calorie boost.

Cancer patients get bombarded by information about what we should and shouldn't eat, special diets that are supposed to be good for cancer, what supplements we should take, and on and on. It's exhausting, and I'm not convinced that any of it has any real impact on my cancer. What has an impact is the medication I'm on, conventional and alternative. What has an impact is exercise and maintaining a good BMI. That's what my team tells me, and it's also what the results tell me. As I said earlier, the results speak for themselves.

Yes, we should all eat healthy diets, and avoid fast food and processed food wherever possible. My wife and I are big proponents of that philosophy. But in a case like mine, finding high-calorie foods that are appetizing to me when I don't have much of an appetite, and don't require me to prepare something for myself when I don't have the time or am too tired is the only real standard that matters.

Please don't think that I don't appreciate your concern. Of course I do. But I expect my friends to respect my choices as much as I expect that of my medical team. More, really. I say this with all love and gratitude, but when I write a post like the last one or this one, I'm not asking for your advice. As with all of my posts, I'm just telling my own story.

I did some yard work today, and my stomach's growling a bit. It's early for dinner, so I think I'll have a Clif bar to tide me over. I just hope the Food Police don't show up with a warrant for my arrest. #waroncancer

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