My family in Italy (big advocates of the REAL Mediterranean diet) and some friends introduced me to the work of great oncologists (Dr. Franco Berrino and the great Dr. Umberto Veronesi, to name a couple) and nutritionists on the importance of food in the fight of ANY health problem, cancer being the main one.
It didn't take long to learn that sugar is a big ally of cancer cells, who need lots of glucose to multiply fast*. By reducing my intake of sugar I had the chance to starve those crazy cells and slow down their growth.
Another change in my diet was the drastic reduction of animal derived products that increase IGF‐1 levels, which promote cancer development by inhibiting apoptosis (cells "suicide") and stimulating cell proliferation**.
I embraced the original Mediterranean diet based mainly on plant derived food, limiting (but not eliminating completely) animal derived products, with wholewheat cereals (spelt, couscous, brown rice, wholegrain pasta etc..) legumes, vegetables and fruits (seasonal and local as much as possible), as also advised by the World Cancer Research Funds.
Changing my diet has been a massive, joyous discovery for me. It is an act of love not only toward myself and my family but also the world we live in, which is something I feel very strongly about.
By eating local, unrefined food , as well as making it mainly plant based I make a mindful choice away from unsustainable mass produced food, which is not only bad for our health but is also responsible for the soil impoverishment and habitat destruction.
During my journey, I was so pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to ditch industrial, refined food that was not good for me. I had lots of fun creating new recipes and learning about real food. I felt immediately more energised and empowered and astonishingly , my mind and thoughts started to "detox" too.
I suddenly realised how many of the "get well gifts" out there are not suitable for people that actually need to get back to strength as they are often full of sugar, flavourings, and refined ingredients.
That is when "Back to Strength" came to life: a truly mindful food gift with Healthy, Top Quality, Delicious products, packed with nutrients and full of flavour. Good for the body and the mind. And, of course, in eco-friendly packaging, because "A species can only thrive when everything else around it thrives too." (Sir D.Attenborough)
I came up with the idea of Mindful Food Gifts in June 2020, after I was diagnosed with Metastatic Thyroid Cancer.
Prior to that, I used to think I was invincible, I had always been sporty and generally healthy so how could "cancer" be happening to me?
At 37, three young kids and a busy life, I had no choice but to stop asking "why me" and pick myself up.
I soon learnt that there are certain things we cannot control (our genes, the environment etc) but lots others that we can change and improve, one of which being our diet.
I started looking closely into what I was eating to begin with, as food is crucial in the way we overcome illnesses and get back to strength.
All my friends would know that my biggest passion, after dancing, was super sweet food: muffins, cakes, biscuits, hot chocolates and anything with sugar, lots of SUGAR in it. Refined, industrial food could be found in abundance in my kitchen: white bread, ready made meals, white pasta etc. I would read distractedly to products labels while rushing through the supermarket aisles.