The Forgotten Function of Food

There are many functions of food within a cancer protocol. A well structured diet helps to strengthen and prepare a cancer patient’s body before surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. It provides key nutrients for patients going through treatment, helps to lower the risk of infection and it helps to detoxify, strengthen and repair a cancer patient’s body post treatment[1].

But as important as these functions of food are, often missed or overlooked is the function of food to bring joy and joy can be a hard thing to find when you are going through a cancer diagnosis.

The heart of a house is the kitchen. It is where our bodies and our soles are nourished. It is where we succeed in plating a great meal or laugh at a recipe gone wrong. Food brings families and friends to the table and science shows that eating together has great benefits including greater happiness and healthier food choices[2].

Eating meals together offers an opportunity to reconnect to those that are central to our being, to those that give our lives meaning. Food is a part of our history. It is a part of the essence of who we are and where we come from. It evokes memories and makes memories.

Gathering in the kitchen and sitting around the table can bring back life as it was before cancer. And although this may only be for a brief time each day, these moments can invigorate and strengthen a cancer patient enough to help them to move forward when the road ahead can seem so hard.

I have done the schooling, the certifications and I will forever continue to expand my knowledge of Nutrition Oncology to better serve the cancer patients that I work with. But to this day I feel that the greatest thing that I have to offer to cancer patients, their family and friends lies not in my book knowledge but in my personal experience with having had cancer. I cherished moments of normalcy, those times when I was just mom again and not a cancer patient.

Many of those moments were in my kitchen. Not when I was using food as a tool in my protocol but when my food was a meal.