Saturday, 16 October 2010

Making Plans

Yesterday I received the results of my recent scan, and I am DELIGHTED to report that all is still stable. I can't express my relief. I recently lost a dear friend to Breast Cancer, a friend who also fought the good fight with diet and lifestyle changes. She battled to the end and it saddens me greatly that the world has lost such a huge spirit. This disease is just too cruel for words, and as there are no words, I will speak of more optimistic things.

Recently I was persuaded by my friend Susan to tell a group of friends about my lifestyle changes and to show how anyone can follow suite. I have now given a few of these talks. I started with a very intensive day demonstrating juicing and how to make smoothies and sorbets, how and why to sprout seeds, and the advantages of incorporating more raw foods into our meal plans. I made a raw lunch which if I'm honest took 2 days to prepare. The feedback I received was very favourable with the only complaint being that it was perhaps too information - dense ( I did want to give value for money ! ) I followed up on this one with a day dedicated to indoor gardening which included a demonstration and talk on the wonderful world of sprouting seeds. I demonstrated the different seed sprouters on the market, ranging from a jar to the high-tech EasyGreen electrical sprouter that waters and rinses the seeds automatically. Everyone had the opportunity to purchase seeds for sprouting at home and we all sowed sunflower seeds and peas in seed trays to take home to grow on for green shoots.

This term I started a course called Healthy Lifestyle Choices, a series of six talks and demonstrations which runs fortnightly. The sessions involve explanations, and demonstrations.

  • In week one I talked about our fabulous body, our cells, our energy. I brought in my own juicer and my blender and demonstrated a juice or smoothie - my memory fails me here. I do remember I didn't have enough time to do everything I had wanted to do.

  • In week two I talked about the bodies PH and about acidity and alkalinity. I demonstrated making a juice with a blender for those who don't have a juicer. I also demonstrated a hummus or guacamole or tapenade - my memory deserts me again and I offered recipes for these. The plan was to offer alternatives for snacks and spreads for lunch, and for wholefood salad dressings.

  • In week three I talked about meat and dairy. It was at this point that I was preparing for my scan and it was also just very shortly after my dear friend passed away. As a consequence, I tried to make a very compelling case for avoiding, or reducing the quantity of dairy and meat we eat, or at the least being aware of what we put in our mouths. I believe it came as a bit of a surprise to some of my listeners. I just hope they return ! I demonstrated a nut cheese ( which can be used as a substitute for cheese, or butter ) and an avocado based lime pudding with nut crumble and nut cream. Thankfully there was no-one present with a nut allergy. ( I had emailed out asking to be informed of allergies prior to the start of the course, but as I received no replies it has given me carte blanche )

  • Week four's plan is to talk about the glycaemic index, and the effect of sugar on our bodies. The demonstration will be a lentil loaf with a vegan gravy. This is a very versatile recipe which can be served warm with gravy, or cold as a pate or sandwich filling. It is cooked, but dark nights and cold weather call for warmer foods, and raw foods will now have to wait for the sunshine of Spring. The vegan gravy recipe is very meaty in ? what's the word ? feel ? As I did a job of criticising too much animal protein in the diet, the plan is to offer easy and delicious alternatives.

  • Week five will be about the wonderful brain, and hormones and freely circulating chemicals, and their effects on our physical bodies ( what other kind of bodies do we have !! ) I'll be sharing the information I have on how wondrous the whole symphony of the body is, and how genes do not always determine destiny. I am intending to also talk about the benefits of meditation and relaxation and pass on some of my favourite techniques and resources. I'm really excited about this one. I am undecided about the weeks recipe for this one at this stage. Time may prove tight if I demonstrate some of the techniques I'd like to. I think I'll have a better feel for it on the day, but will go armed with a recipe and ingredients and see how time goes.

  • The plan for week six is to talk about some of the hazards in our environments. This was the most overwhelming issue for me to take on board, and the most recent. I'm certainly not an expert, but I will be passing on what I have learnt so far. As it is the last session before Christmas, I thought it would be nice if everyone could take something away with them. I make my own moisturizers and scrubs and the plan is for us all to make some to take away. I will bring in some pretty little pots, and there will be gift-wrap suggestions from my friend Susan who is a gifted floral artist and florist.

It hadn't been my intention to carry on and do any more sessions after this last one, but as I've had very positive feedback, and more importantly, my scan result was reassuring I would certainly consider continuing for another few sessions. I think what I have learned from this experience is that there is a lot we the public don't know about nourishing ourselves, and I mean nourishing in its widest meaning. I sometimes forget that the knowledge I have gained with such difficulty wasn't always widely available, and that others are in the position I was in prior to diagnosis. Of course the reason for doing the demonstrations and talks was precisely because it was so difficult to take on this information, and as the opportunity arose I jumped at the chance to pass it on to others. The adage An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is just so true !! But occasionally, I feel so settled in my new lifestyle that I am sometimes momentarily puzzled that others don't know what I do and act accordingly. I am also sometimes extremely frustrated by this - when I'm in the supermarket, or trying to find something on a restaurant menu for example !

The other thing I'm learning is not to try to cram so much information into two short hours !! I want desperately to pass on this information while I can, and cancer is my constant companion, sitting on my shoulder. It is a motivator to act now, act quickly whilst I have energy and am well. It is also a demotivator, always there and never giving any hints about how far ahead I can plan. As a consequence I operate within a shorter time-frame than most other people. I have been trying to pass on the most important information as efficiently and succinctly as possible in my talks and demonstrations, but perhaps I'm in danger of overwhelming people, as I've overwhelmed myself in the past. So perhaps a little recapping may be in order. And the advantage of recapping is that the information all starts to dovetail into itself. It's all interconnected, but you just need to have a basic understanding of the bits before you see that they do all fit together.