It's two and a half years since I wrote about the alarming ignorance shown by my erstwhile oncologist (and by one senior radiographer) on the role of diet in the treatment of cancer. So, when I read that today's Food Programme (BBC Radio 4) would be on this very subject, I made sure that I was listening. The oncologist and radiographer are both still working at the hospital where I was treated - and where, thank goodness, the staff at the Breast Care Centre took a more enlightened view - so I can only say that I hope that they were also listening.
These days I rarely post about my experience of being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer (fondly referred to on this blog as the Massive Inconvenience). That's because I continue to be cancer free, am fit and healthy and, to be honest, cancer is not uppermost in my waking thoughts these days. But . . . I take nothing for granted.
It's not as if my pre-cancer diet was unhealthy but, from the point at which I received the diagnosis, I paid even greater attention to what I was eating and I still do. I chose to give up alcohol and certain foods, including dairy products, because the type of cancer I had was oestrogen dependent and I wanted to avoid anything that would push up my oestrogen levels. I missed cheese but, as neither alcohol nor other dairy foods, such as milk and butter, had figured highly in what I ate or drank, going without was not much of a sacrifice. I also stopped eating anything that contained sugar, which I am now convinced is the devil's food. (Did you know that sugar consumption in the UK has gone up by 31 per cent since 1990 and that the average Brit now eats 1.25lbs a week of the wretched stuff? Yikes!) That's stopped as in routinely; there has been the odd glass of champagne at celebratory events and an occasional cake, but only very occasional. Yes, I enjoyed them at the time; no, I don't want them every day or even every week.
Lest anyone should think I lead a hairshirt culinary and dietary existence, nothing could be further from the truth. I love good food and I've always enjoyed cooking for family and friends - and for myself; I just don't want to eat stuff that does my body no favours. Also, as a woman of well over a certain age, I'm on a tight post-60 budget, so I can't and don't spend a fortune on food. But a healthy diet does not have to be expensive; nor does it require spending hours in the kitchen. The phenomenal success of A Girl Called Jack, a brilliant blog about eating well on a minimal budget, shows what is possible and provides a welcome relief from the increasing and often ludicrous excesses of far too many television food programmes.
The photo above in case you are wondering, is a double-page spread from Nigel Slater's Tender: Volume 1, which I picked up for a snip (ie £5, that's about 1.54 US dollars) at a local charity shop on Friday. Pristine, still in its wrapper and seemingly unused. A great, fat book, by one of my favourite food writers, it's full of wonderful things to do with delicious veg.