#231 Food as a Metabolic Therapy

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In this episode, we’ll discuss the importance of shifting your mentality around food from diet or a way to manage weight to one of understanding that food can act as a metabolic therapy. 

While many breast cancer survivors focus on losing weight as a way to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence, research shows that food can play a critical role in reducing inflammation, supporting immune function, and improving overall health. 

We all know that a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce inflammation and support the body's natural defenses.  

So why don’t we all adopt a healthy way of eating? 

I’ll share some insights on that to help you move forward with creating the change you want to see in your life. 

Every person's body is different, and their nutrition needs may vary based on their specific health history and cancer treatment. 

But thinking of food as a metabolic therapy rather than just a diet or a way to manage weight can help you let go of shame and pressure and refocus your mental energy on healing and feeling well. 

Referred to in this episode: 

90 Days of Wellness 

Better Than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 

Low Carb Denver 2023 



Read the full transcript below:

Laura Lummer  00:00

You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started.


Laura Lummer  00:32

Hello, hello, you are listening to Episode 231 of the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. And I am your host, Laura Lummer. And I am so excited to be here today because I'm busting at the seams with an experience that I had this past weekend, and I can't wait to share it with you because it's such good stuff. And before I do that, I want to remind you of something else, that's really good stuff that you can really use. And that is that there are a lot of free downloads on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com. And one of them that I think is really important is how to eat without fear and guilt after breast cancer. This is such a big topic and something that I coach women on all the time that I get questions about all the time. And I am not selling a diet, I'm not talking about a diet when I talk about how to eat without fear and guilt. I'm talking about looking at your thoughts about your relationship with food, one of the most important things for you to have an excellent relationship with in this life, food and clean water, right, we need those two things to live to survive. And we are so confused and have gotten so far away with understanding how to eat as human beings so far away from our natural, genetically predisposed way of eating as a human being that food has just become this vast field of confusion and anxiety, and especially after breast cancer, when a very common thought on all of our minds is what did i What did I do wrong? How do I change my diet? What if I eat something that gives me cancer again, and I promised you with those thoughts in your head, you are not going to have a good relationship with food. So in this free download in this guide, and not only give you some information about why we think the way we think about food, and what's going on with that, but also I'll give you some exercises, a little bit of self exploration for you to dig into, to explore your own thoughts about food and see how they may be creating feelings of fear and guilt and anxiety for you. Because I want you to be able to move past that. I want you to be able to move past those feelings, and to have a great and healthy relationship with food. And I think that one way to do that is to let go of the idea of food being a diet. Like you know, we have bought so much into this book and that book and this Netflix documentary and that Netflix documentary that we don't know how to eat without labeling it anymore. We have to call ourselves a vegan or a vegetarian or a carnivore. Or people who just eat a little bit of everything are now called flexitarians. We've got a friggin name for everything and every way that people eat. And so it's even more confusing because then we say, well, what's the right way to eat. And I have a friend who ate keto and she lost weight. And boom, there is another pitfall we think about food as a mechanism to manage your weight. And not that it isn't not that that is one element of a healthy diet or an unhealthy diet. But when we think about food only from that perspective, food as a vehicle to weight management, we are missing out. We are missing out on what food really does for us. And I think we're failing to adopt a critical mindset, a mindset that helps to relieve us with so much guilt, and a mindset that helps us to look at food from a different way without the shame without the judgment without not only the dietary labels, but the shame labels the I'm good, I'm bad. I cheated. I shouldn't have done that. I'm off the wagon, all that BS about everything we put into our mouths and the misconception that there's only one way to lose weight, that there's one diet that's got the biggest brightest health halo ever. And what do we genuinely think that is the untouchable vegan diet? Oh, the heavens open the angels saying I'm a vegan. You know, I'm a holier than thou way of eating. And that's just not true. It's not necessarily true for every human being One, there are many ways to lose weight. Yes. Can you lose weight on a ketogenic diet? Yes. Can you lose weight on a carnivore diet? Yes, a vegan diet? Yes, vegetarian diet, yes. There are many ways to lose weight. And so when we label a diet or think that's the only way to weight loss, we're again selling ourselves short. And we're packing on field and we're packing on judgment. Now, that's what I want to talk about here. Not diet, we're moving past diet, I'm not talking about diet, I want to talk about a different way to think about food. And I think of this often so as a certified health, nutrition and life coach. And as a passionate foodie and follower of nutrition science, and biological sciences. I love food. I think food is fascinating. I think the human body is fascinating. And I think that having an understanding of the way the human body interacts with food is mind blowing. You know, there are so many times we say in different areas of life, that a little bit of information can be dangerous. And when it comes to food and nutrition, I think that as a human race, that's where we're at. Because nutrition is really a baby science, we've really only been done to dig into nutrition and the understanding of how it impacts our body in the last just over 100 years. That is so new. And there are so many things we do not understand. For instance, fruits and vegetables. How many times do people tell you eat more fruits and vegetables? Why? Why? Because they're good for you? What do they have in them phytochemicals? What do phytochemicals do? We're not really sure we know some good stuff. But we're not sure why or how, or what other good stuff they might do. And then one of the biggest mistakes we make, and we do this with the human body, and we do this with food, is we isolate things. And it's so silly. You know, we isolate certain elements like we take tumeric and say, Oh, Curcumin is the active ingredient in Tumeric that has so many things. So let's extract curcumin and put it in a pill and tell everybody to take a gram of curcumin every day. I mean, we miss the beauty of the whole food. And we do that with our bodies too. I'm sure you have this experience as a breast cancer survivor, someone who has been thrown into the world of medicine and clinicians. It's very specialized and becoming more and more specialized. cardiologists works with the heart, and nephrologist works with the kidneys, and on and on. But the human body doesn't work in isolation. The human body is beautifully integrated in everything we do, affects everything else in the body. So I think about this all the time, I think, How can I support my clients in understanding how to nourish their bodies, how to have a beautiful relationship with food, how to take food into their bodies, without fear without guilt without shame, but with joy, with joy, with confidence with feeling good about it with having the results they want to get from food, and without living with a diet mentality or a fear mentality. Because food is so important as a medical intervention, as a therapy as a therapy to metabolic disease as a therapy to heart disease as a therapy to so many things, including medical intervention to cancer. So how do you talk about this? How do you talk about this without convincing someone they've got to be on a diet or without making someone feel like they're on the wrong diet? And I will tell you, I attended this last weekend, the low carb conference, the low carb Denver 2023 conference, and I'm not going to talk about low carb. This is not about getting rid of flour and sugar and processed food, although I hope you do. But I'm not going to talk about that. Because I wish they hadn't even called the conference, the low carb conference, because it was so much about metabolism. And that's what I'm going to talk about here. I want to help you. My My hope is that by the end of the show, you have a little bit of a paradigm shift when it comes to thinking about food, and that we move away from a little bit at least a little bit of it away from food as a diet into food as a metabolic therapy. Because when we're talking about managing cancer, healing from cancer, supporting ourselves through cancer, supporting our body's ability to heal, and using food as a part of that overall treatment, we've got standard of care, we've got medications, we've got different therapies, we've got drug therapies, we have food and exercise relationships and emotional therapy. If so please don't think I'm suggesting that the only approach to this is food, that food is a cure all that food is an important part of understanding how to influence our metabolism to work in the best way, the optimal way, the way we want our metabolism to work. So first of all, what is metabolism? When you hear about that, I think probably what comes to mind, and what's a really common thing to come to mind is do you have a fast metabolism or slow metabolism, because if you have a fast metabolism, you can eat more stuff. And if you have a slow metabolism, you get fat just by looking at food, right. And we limit even metabolism to these silos of weight gain and weight loss. When metabolism is and I'm going to give you the definition from the National Cancer Institute, metabolism is the chemical changes that take place in a cell or an organism. These changes make energy and the materials cells and organisms need to grow, reproduce and stay healthy. That's metabolism. Metabolism is all the chemical reactions that are happening in our body are the exchange of everything inside of a cell. They're the way that our mitochondria work and produce energy. And each cell is like this amazing, beautiful, complex universe. And when they're not working right, when they're influenced by different things that we put in our body, along with other stuff. Remember, I'm not isolating just to food, but I am just talking about mostly food here today, ourselves are influenced by many things, and when they are influenced improperly, by the food we put into our body, because we're not eating food that was meant to be consumed by human body, we're eating food that has been manufactured. And that has a lot of things in it that we don't even have the right enzymes to process, we start creating malfunctions, we start putting a really big burden, a toxic burden on our body. And so when I talk about, as I've talked about a lot recently, and I've received a lot of questions and emails and Facebook, comments and messages about the ketogenic diet. So I began studying with Naisha winters, the author of the metabolic approach to cancer last November, and I am in her train advocate program. What that is about is about looking at all of the things that we do to support the terrain of our body. What does the terrain mean? It means all the cells, all the things, it doesn't mean, curing cancer, it means supporting your body's ability to be healthy. And as a part of that program, I began working with an oncology nutritionist, and I adopted a ketogenic diet. I hesitate to even say that, because now you're gonna think, Oh, she wants to be on a ketogenic diet or why keto and I can't eat that much fat, please, let's move past diet for just a sec. The reason I decided to adopt this way of eating was not because of a diet, and it was not to lose weight. It was because the way that a ketogenic way of eating a well structured, well supervised ketogenic nutrition plan, the way it affects my metabolism. And so, as I said before, there are many, many ways if I just want to lose weight, if you just want to lose weight, you can do that in many, many different ways. But if you want to affect your metabolism in a specific way, then there are many studies and lots of clinical evidence behind two things. plant based diet, and a ketogenic diet. And the way that I, I would call a plant focused ketogenic diet, because I eat a lot of plants. And I believe wholeheartedly in eating a lot of plants. I think that's very important. But the important thing about this is it is not because of weight loss, even though I have lost weight, and many people who adopt this way of eating lose weight. It is because even though you can lose weight through many different avenues, they don't all affect your metabolism in the way that a ketogenic diet affects your metabolism. So I want to share a few highlights about the importance of eating in a specific way to have a positive impact on the metabolism. And what that means for us as cancer survivors and something that stood out to me many things that stood out to me through this This conference. And I encourage you, if it's in your budget, go to low carb usa.org and buy a virtual ticket, you could still buy a virtual ticket, I'm not making any money off this. I'm not affiliated with them. But I think that the information and the presenters in that conference, we're just fascinating. And I'm going to share with you some of the things I thought were particularly important that I think we should all be aware of not just as cancer survivors, but as souls living in human bodies, we should be aware of these things. And then I'll leave it up to you. If you feel like doing more research or listening to some of the speakers, I'll put the link to that conference, if you want to watch it, or you want to listen to it in the show notes for this episode, the breast cancer recovery coach.com. Forward slash 131 is where you will find those. So one, I want to as I'm listening, so there were so many speakers that spoke to me, but this podcast isn't long enough to talk to you about all of them. That spoke to me. I mean, you know, that resonated with me. And the very first one was Dr. Brett shirt. Now most of the presenters that are in this conference, our medical doctors, and if not, they're people that have a lot of credentials working within the clinical field. And that's another reason they're just really highly credentialed speaker. So great, great, reliable information. But that was one of the things that when I listened to Dr. Bradshaw give his talk, and his talk was ketosis as a medical intervention, I thought, oh my gosh, I love this. Therapeutic, nutritional ketosis is not a diet. And that was a quote straight from his presentation. And when I heard that, quote, I was like, Oh, my gosh, yes, that is a beautiful way to talk about food, without this frigging diet mentality. And, you know, I love research. I know a lot of lot of you love research. And many people don't. Many people are like, I don't want to read that. I don't get it. And so we hear things. We see things on social media, we hear statements being made, we see GIFs, we hear off the cuff comments by a doctor who maybe really isn't well educated in nutrition, and then we take that to heart. I know, and I have been recently asked questions about ketosis, or told things like, that's not for me, it's too high fat, it's gonna give me high cholesterol, it's gonna give me kidney stones. I'm not risking it. And I think it's sad when I hear those things. Because even though a poorly constructed diet could do that could result in some of those things. We're missing out on all of the metabolic benefits that we could receive by following a well structured diet. And so I really loved Dr. sheers talk and he went deep, which I'm not going to go into he went deep into what it means to be in therapeutic nutritional ketosis, and why it's important to understand that eating in this certain way to keep a high level of healthy fats for me people ask all the time, what does that mean what healthy fats to eat? I eat pili nuts, pi l i A lot of people haven't heard of those. But it's a high fat nut like a macadamia nut, high fat, low carb, really delicious, buttery and yummy. Buy them off Amazon, you can find them on Amazon. I eat avocado oil, olive oil, pili nuts, salmon. And now the thing is that fat has nine calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates only have four. So when you think of high fat as fat making up, the predominant amount of calories you take in doesn't take that much fat, okay? It's got more than twice as much calorie per gram than protein or carbohydrate. So keep that in mind. A lot of people think they have to eat like bowls and bowls of cheese and things of bacon and sausages. I don't even eat bacon and sausage and I rarely eat cheese. But I do have a little note on that because it is delicious. Anyway, so off track there. I want to just bring this up because I thought when he said let's think about food as a therapeutic, nutritional ketosis, let's think about eating in a certain way as therapeutic nutritional ketosis, and what that means is you get into a metabolic state. And that state keeps your blood sugar, your glucose as low as possible. Well, increasing another fuel source, which is ketones. I'm not going to go into all the signs of that just want to give you that cursory understanding. That is state of nutritional therapeutic, nutritional ketosis. This is what we're looking at the balance between ketones as a fuel source, and glucose as a fuel source, and we're balancing though so that you feel really good. You're thinking more clearly. In fact, here's a squirrel moment, there was a presentation by Dr. Jamie Seaman who is also the author of hard to kill. And she was talking about metabolism in postmenopausal women. And it was fascinating. So speaking of being able to think more clearly, she made the statement that I had never heard before. And she is also an OBGYN. And she was saying that they have seen a vein meeting, the medical field has seen a 30% reduction in brain energy in postmenopausal women. And Mandy, the lights go on in my head when I heard that 30% reduction, we call it chemo brain. But is it really because of chemo? Or is it because chemo puts us into menopause so quickly? And is it the drastic reduction in estrogen that is really responsible for us not remembering why we walked into another room or where we set our keys, just something interesting to think about. But going back to therapeutic nutritional ketosis, I want to just touch on not so much ketosis, I don't want to make this podcast about ketosis. But it's more about how food affects our metabolism, and how the effect on our metabolism supports our overall well being. And the struggle that we go through with food, the struggle that we go through. And I think a lot of that struggle is based on the idea of diet and weight loss, and that we only use food as a vehicle for weight management. And we need to really shift that mentality and understand the connection that we have with food, and how it supports us and how deciding on a healthy way of eating whatever it is that works for you whether your goal is to manage cancer like mine is so that I want to be in therapeutic ketosis, whether your goal is to have enough energy to be pain free to reduce inflammation in your body. Maybe your goal is to manage metabolic Central and lose weight, whatever your goal is to change the mind from weight loss to the best way to support the functioning of your metabolism. And one of the things that comes up a lot when I talk with women about changing their diets changing their nutritional program, especially if they have children, is that their kids don't like to eat that way or their husband doesn't like to eat that way or their spouse doesn't like to eat that way, and want to share with you mind boggling information that I heard from Dr. Chris Palmer during this conference. Dr. Chris Palmer is a psychiatrist. He is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University. He is the author of the book brain energy and he is remarkable to listen to, in fact, I'll put a link I heard him when I was flying to vacation in Iceland, actually in January, I listened to him being interviewed on the Andrew Huberman podcast, where he was talking about the importance of the gut microbiome, and overall metabolism and its effect on mental illness. And he did a presentation at this conference that was just wow, so good. And he not only talked about mental illness as being a metabolic disorder of the brain. But he presented this evidence on a study of over 5000 children who were followed from the ages of one to 24 and that those children with the highest insulin levels, beginning at age nine, were five times more likely to have psychosis at risk mental state, and three times more likely to already be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. Children who gained the most weight around puberty, were four times more likely to develop depression. And is that isn't reason to rethink the way we approach food in our household. I don't know what it is.


Laura Lummer  24:17

So after attending this conference, over the weekend, I then did a speaking engagement on Tuesday, on the self love after breast cancer online virtual talk, where I discussed self love as the foundation to healthy change. And the interviewer in the host of the show, Karen del Maestro asked me if self love is the foundation to healthy change, and I talked about how if you don't love yourself, then you just don't nourish yourself well because we don't take good care of things we don't love. And when we learn to cultivate self love, we begin to think of things through a different perspective even food we view through a different lens Why would I put that in my body? How would that make me feel? What is that doing to support my wellness? What is that doing to support my energy, we just start thinking about things differently. And she asked me, if we do that if we look at food from that different perspective, then what happens when people say, Well, I know that I know I should eat better. But I just don't. And I want to respond to that, again, for those of you who weren't able to be at that talk and hear it, because I think that that is a really, really important concept, because many of you may be listening to this. And you're we're all at different stages, we're all ready for different things, some of us are ready for change. Some of us are not some of us are not even open to change. Some of us, I was actually speaking with a friend of mine about this, just today. And we were talking about her grandma, who's in her 90s. And I said, you know, I think about my goal in life, which is to get to 82, I don't know why 82 It's just the number that's been in my head for most of my life that I will live till I'm 82 It's me, because I have that number. And I think 82 is a good rich life. But when I get there, everything else is icing on the cake. So once I get to 82, I'm going to be opened eating chocolate chips, and drinking martinis pretty much every day, chill. Now maybe when I get to 82, I'll feel differently about that. But until 82, I'm gonna do everything I can to support my metabolism to be super healthy. And then then I'll check back in when I get there. And I'll let you know. But the reason I bring that up is because some of us aren't ready for change. Everybody's at a different place in their life. And if you're at a place in your life, you're like, you know what, I just don't care about that. I'm just not into that. It's okay. It's okay. But if you're at a place in life, where you're feeling uncomfortable, you're in fear, you're having anxiety, and you're really troubled by food, and your relationship with food. And I want to answer the question of what happens between I know, I should do that. And the auction of I just don't do that. And the answer is all of your thoughts. All the thoughts you have about what a healthy diet is, what it means and how much sacrifice is involved, what you'll have to give up how deprived you have to be how you won't be able to do certain things go to certain restaurants not know what to eat, all the thoughts you have about what you think of as a healthy way of eating, or in between. I know I should, and I don't. And so I wonder if changing the thought from going on a diet, which to me, whenever I hear diet, I think of a temporary state of being a diet has a goal, lose X amount of weight, and then boom, back on. I'm not talking about a diet, I'm talking about taking small steps towards transforming the way that you eat, to serve your body and support your optimal functioning metabolism. In order to get to that place, I would offer that we dump the idea of food labels, that we dumped the idea of diet labels, because God knows if he started a diet and you tell somebody, I'm eating the carnivore diet, I'm eating the vegan diet, I'm eating the Paleo diet, and then you stop. There's going to be a bunch of guilt and a bunch of questioning and a bunch of answering. And nobody wants to deal with that. I don't want to deal with that, oh, no, you don't want to deal with that. It's no fun. So just switching your thought process. And also, depending where you are in the transferring process for me because I have active disease. I've made a lot of small changes over a long period of time. But once I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, I really believed that I needed to dig in deep and fast I didn't have a lot of time to make small changes. And so I committed to making some big changes, and getting a lot of support to do that. And so that's the second thing. One is Let's drop the idea of labels and tune in to asking what helps my body perform in the best possible way. And then to what support do you need because support is very important we have food is a big role in our lives, a lot of thoughts about food. And it's really important to get support to help you through any kind of dietary change. And especially if you are managing a cancer during process, medications are involved. Other therapies are involved chemotherapy, radiation therapy, so important that you consult with somebody who can really help you and lead you to get the right kind of testing need you to understand the right kind of nutrients that your body needs. It's not just about calories in calories out, it is about nutrition. And that's why we call it nutrition. Right? We just bastardized it so much with our whole mentality over fat and fat loss. So let's think about it from nourishing a nutrition and supporting healing and supporting the healthiest possible metabolism you have. And what does that mean? What does that look like? Well, how do you want to feel? Because I love that thought, again, from Dr. Sure, that says, This is a therapeutic intervention. What kind of therapeutic metabolic intervention do you need right now to support yourself in the way that you want to be supported? Such an important thing to consider. And as you think about it, again, I will post the link to that conference, I know you can still buy virtual access to it and go back and listen to the recordings. And I think it's incredibly valuable to educate yourself with what these professionals have to offer. And if you're just beginning and you're wondering, like, what's the first step, where can I start? Come on, find me the breast cancer recovery coach.com, I have a program called the 90 days of wellness, which for 90 days, we dig into a heart centered way of nourishing your body and explore so many different avenues of health, what your thoughts are about them, and how you can treat yourself better. And that also includes many hours of live coaching and come and see me during office hours, or join me in the better than before breast cancer, life coaching membership. Because, yes, nutrition is a part of life. And yes, we talk about food and nutrition and our thoughts. And we coach on these things to help you move past these old conditioned thoughts about what food means what diets mean, and all that can be able to treat yourself from a point of self love. Change your life from the perspective of doing what is important to love yourself, which means feeding yourself like someone you love. Yeah, when that'd be cool. All right, my friend. I hope that that information has helped you in some way or it spurred your curiosity in some way to serve yourself better. And I look forward to talking with you again next week. Until then, Please be good to yourself, and expect other people to be good to you as well. Take care.

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