October is marked as breast cancer awareness month and my mind has been consumed of all the people in my life and around me who have been touched by this Cancer. I woke up this morning remembering the events of late February and early March of the year 2013. I had been in shock and disbelief about my dearest friend’s new diagnosis of Breast Cancer - How was it even possible?- She was so healthy. We had just celebrated both our 40th’s a few months back….And had been told by our friends that this was the time to be rockstars and we were learning to embrace our middle age without a crisis! Recovering from the flu I had decided to meet with my new physician. As things unfolded over the next few days, I was made to do some routine tests, leading up to this day that year.
March 12th 2013 — the day the biopsy revealed I had Stage 2 Breast Cancer… the day I questioned over and over again what did I do to deserve this fate?
As helpless as one feels when dealing with a challenging health situation it was my belief that within me I will find the strength and the knowledge to over come cancer. I was going to be the rockstar that I was meant to be and put up a good Punjabi style fight to save my body from this treacherous disease! I had read somewhere that that you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice. I needed to be strong for my girls, for my husband , my family and for myself!! I had too much to look forward to.
The truth is we all think we are healthy and invincible till one day “out of the blue” you are given a challenging diagnosis that is linked to your genetics, your environment, your state of mind . You can’t be more wrong with this premise — disease does not happen over night or in a few weeks. The human body is far more resilient and capable, to breakdown so easily. It takes years of neglect, abuse in the form of poor lifestyle and dietary choices that lead the body to a state of imbalance and further on to disease.
The one thing that has been a constant in my life is good food. My mother introduced me to simple flavors and traditional cooking early in life and my favorite books to read were cookery books. I bonded with my mother in law over South Indian food lessons. I sought recipes and techniques from friends and family and when faced with the challenge of overcoming cancer what could be better to comfort me than food? My parent’s presence and my mother’s simple food were the only remedy I needed. My husband and daughters ensured the wishlist was updated and groceries were provided to keep Ma cooking. It wasn’t just my age that made me survive the harsh chemotherapy. It was the magic of home cooked food. A meal so delicious, so soothing and so nourishing that it made me thrive despite the toxic cocktail infused in me.
Once done with treatment I set out to rebuild my body and regain strength. Again I turned to mother and Mother Nature to guide me and nourish me. As a survivor, it became important to help survivors of cancer and others around me struggling with their health. The more I involved myself with food and survivors the stronger my desire to study nutrition became. I got myself enrolled in a holistic nutritional therapy school, The Nutritional Therapy Association, and set out to show everyone how to use food as medicine.
Many lessons were learnt in the five years since —
Always remain tuned into your your body - look for the warning signs and listen to the cries of help. You have one life, one body and countless ways of destroying it. Focus your energy on nourishing yourself every day, every meal, every bite you take.
YOU have the power to heal — use food to nourish your mind, body and soul and experience how food impacts you at a cellular level
Gut health is real health — Your gut is at the foundation of your overall health. Keep it happy, keep it nourished to feel healthy from head to toe.
Keep food simple - Use real ingredients and avoid processed junk to create nourishing meals.
Learn to cook and if already a skilled craftsman in the kitchen teach those around you the life saving skill of cooking.
Acknowledge the presence of the good samaritans in your life.
Be Grateful, it helps you keep a positive attitude.—- As you start your day, list a couple of things you are grateful for everyday.Recognize that breath you just took at that moment.
Nutrition is your super power for health and healing. It is the one and only constant companion throughout life that is there to support you. Don’t alienate yourself from that friend.
Minal Rajan, NTP
Art and Science of Nutrition
For more information, visit: www.therapykitchenbyminal.com