Why did I get breast cancer? Was it my diet?

GuiltThis may seem like a funny place to start a site about breast cancer, but I find it is an important topic to many women who have breast cancer, especially the newly diagnosed. So I figured it’s as good a place as any to begin.

You can reduce your risk

Let’s start by making it abundantly clear – what and how you eat did not cause your breast cancer. Yes, there are certainly better, healthier choices of foods to eat, and worse choices, but cancer is very complex and you cannot control it or prevent it simply by eating more berries and greens and less red meat. You can reduce your risk of breast cancer through proper diet and exercise, but unfortunately you can’t reduce your risk to zero.

If it was that easy, no one would ever need to see an oncologist – we’d all stay healthy simply by eating and living right.

Breast cancer is just something that happens

At times it feels kind of random about who is affected. Consider my story… I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, regular exerciser, breast fed two children, don’t smoke, don’t drink, have been “normal” weight all my life, etc. etc. etc.  And yet, despite “doing the right things” for most of my adult life, here I am running breastcancerkitchen.com as both an experienced patient and nutrition professional.

A healthy diet and lifestyle can help

Having said all that, eating healthier foods can help. The benefits of a healthy diet are many including helping you maintain a healthy body weight (which can help reduce the  risk of developing breast cancer),  helping keep your heart and other organs in better shape, and providing the vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. You can also often save money.  YES, I said save money, as many healthy foods will actually cost less than store – prepared or processed foods, if you are careful with your selections.

I’ve spoken to a number of women who blame themselves when breast cancer strikes. They say things like, “I knew I wasn’t eating enough fruits and vegetables”, “I should have eaten less red meat”, and “I shouldn’t have let myself gain all that weight after my first child was born.”  To that, I say nonsense!  While you can certainly do things to help reduce your risk of developing the disease, scientists don’t yet fully understand why breast cancer happens. If we knew what caused it, we wouldn’t have the disease. We would simply stop doing the offending activity.

Stop blaming yourself and start figuring out how to get well again

The bottom line is that good food is necessary to help keep you strong and healthy. While there are “better” foods and “less better” foods, I believe that nearly all foods can be part of a healthy varied diet. So please don’t blame yourself, you’ve done nothing wrong. You just happen to have been a little unlucky.

Now that you have breast cancer, please don’t despair. Instead, get to work finding doctors and other members of your team you can count on to get you back to living your life to the fullest.

Barbara Spalding RDN Culinary Dietitian

Hi, I am

Barbara Spalding MS, RDN, Culinary Dietitian

As a dietitian and world traveler, I love bold flavors — in food and in life. 14 years ago, I fell down the rabbit hole into Breast Cancer Wonderland. Since then, I’ve learned to cook differently while savoring the pleasures of food and companionship. I’ve built a resilient new life and a bold new kitchen. Let me show you the flavors of the world.
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Breast Cancer WonderlandTM


Are you or a loved one experience Breast Cancer. Find encouragement, tips and recipes to support the journey.

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Learn how to build a well stocked pantry from Culinary Dietitian, Barbara Spalding. When you have these ingredients on hand you can always make a meal even when you haven’t been to the store.

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