Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sally Vs. The Nutritionist

As I mentioned in my last post, over the years I have been moving toward a better and more holistic way of eating, even before I got diagnosed with cancer. I had already come to see the impact that eating had on my energy levels and on my body in general. I had noticed that when I respect my body, it respects me back, that putting high quality into my body (you know, organic food, extra virgin olive oil, etc) produced higher quality output from my body, and that how I treated food was reflected in how it treated me (so for instance, when I saw food as just like the gasoline that I needed to run my car, a utility thing, then it didn't give back as much as when I saw it as the building blocks of all of who I am, that permits me to think more clearly, act more quickly and generally function better). Yes, it would be true to say that I am a convert to ye old adage “You get out what you put in.”


When I got diagnosed with cancer I got to see how other people related to food -good, bad and, well, it's true, ugly- and what impact that had. This furthered my growing perspective that food must be respected. So, today, I want to show the juxtaposition of two different styles of health care provider and how their perspectives on food changed how I think.


After I was diagnosed, but before my surgery, I went to the Centre for Integrated Healing here in Vancouver for their Introductory Program. As part of the program we discussed the impact of diet on the body's ability to heal itself, to fight off illness and to support the immune system. Good stuff. Not new stuff, but it was so great to get it broken down and made visible and clear. Then we got to hear from Sally Errey , who works at the centre, speaks at this Introductory Programs, leads cooking (and other) workshops and does 1:1 councelling around diet and health. I believe she is a registered nutritionist, certainly she is well trained and informed, but that is not what was most important and remarkable about her. This woman is full of energy and passion. She was not trying to protect us or comfort us, she did not feel sorry for us or talk down to us. She was brimming over with enthusiasm. She talked about food like it was her best friend. She was so sure about this and so committed to passing on her knowledge and passion that soon I was filled with a desire to know more, to learn and to get to be good friends with food. God bless her, while I was already moving in that direction this was still a bit of a coo. She made it simple. She made it fun. She gave me a new respect for and love of food. Looking through her eyes, I see the power of how it can heal my body, and nurture me as it gives me nutrition, and not in that comfort way, but in a “bring you more alive” way. And what is what I want to be after talking to her, more alive!


It was after I had been through the program at the Centre that she started working on her book, Staying Alive , a cook book with the success stories of cancer survivors (in which I am featured, even more true, now that I am five years successful!) along with their favourite recipes and Sally's information around important nutritional facts about how to kick cancer's ass through diet. I totally recommend it; her passion comes through on the pages.


Now, compare this to the woman that I went to see at Cancer World during or maybe it was after radiation treatment was done. She is a nutritionist. Probably very certified and maybe quite experienced. She may even be committed to and passionate about food and nutrition. But it just didn't come through; it wasn't in her voice, or her eyes. There was a dead quality, a rote-ness to her. And there was a condecending way about her, or maybe it was pity, for my plight. For her, this meeting, this session with me, it seemed to be more about the job, or more about the rules, or something else for her, but not about the passion. The councelling she gave me was about the basics, and not about getting me excited or seeing the possibility or any such thing. She showed me how big the portions could and should be. She told me that my meal should be balanced, and contain all the suggested food groups. She suggested that maybe I should cut out things like alcohol and coffee. Most of what she said was the stuff they talked about in grade four, when they introduced the food topic in school. What was I learning here? No new information. No excitement. No creativity. This was not the thing that would change the way I related to food and would have me WANT to eat better. This was not fun, or simple or anything but disheartening.


Now I am lucky, I had both experiences and I got to choose which one to live by and with. Plenty of people just get exposed to the one. Where are they supposed to get their hope, and enthusiasm and passion? I guess it becomes their job to create their own, but that is not so easy when we have so little community around cancer. And, frankly, around living.


I must tell you though, I went away from that appointment with the nutritionist wishing that there was a post cancer treatment centre, where survivors and families and friends could go for lessons in how to live, how to really live. And why to live. To be called forth to passion and purpose and life. To really get excited again! Really. Excited. I mean we need something like that right? So who's in? Who wants to help me create such a wonderful, magical place?

30 Comments:

At 6:34 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Ok, for some reason, today, blogspot won't let me create spaces between my paragraphs. Any suggestions? Anyone? Forget the magical centre for healing, just someone please help me figure out how to put spaces in.

 
At 6:36 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Right, I have even tried changing fonts. Nothing. Yikes, this away from home blogging has it's complications. Sigh. Anyone?

 
At 6:39 PM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Those of you on RSS feeds are going to be like "what the heck just happened there?", until you get to these comments, eh? Then again, you are the types who are likely to be able to give me some guidance. Please?

 
At 9:22 PM PDT, Anonymous Keira said...

Lord how irritating- I tried to leave comment suggesting you try a simple html tag to give you line break but apparently that's one tag, blogger doesn't accept.

Anyway, if you go to http://www.webmonkey.com/webmonkey/reference/html_cheatsheet/

look under "Formatting" you'll see the tag I mean (I hope).

 
At 1:16 PM PDT, Blogger emira said...

Ok Blogger and MS Word are conspiring to make that formatting very difficult. It looks like you copy/pasted from Word and all your word formatting stuck in the code (a regular occurence I'm afraid). I've tried to go in and clean it up for you but Blogger is being a bit crabby. Sorry.

 
At 2:21 PM PDT, Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Sorry, can't help! I just learned how to put pictures in my blog! And I tried to follow the instructions of how to link to other blogs and I wasn't successful!
Anyway, your idea is great and you are such a powerhouse, if anyone does form this group program, it'd be you for sure!

 
At 6:07 AM PDT, Blogger Signy said...

Well someone pulled off some magic I see, since the desired separation is now present. Thanks! To whoever is responsible and/or the gods of blogs.

Sorry for my absense, in fact I might even put a little post refering to it, I have been indisposed with vacation and leading workshops, and I am only now coming up for air. Gasp. I hope to post today, but it might be Tuesday or Wed.

Thanks Emira for the great idea, and I will definately write about that.

 
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