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Episode 34: Making Fearless Food Decisions with Cathy Leman

by | Jul 22, 2021 | Podcasts | 0 comments

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Cathy Leman is a Registered Dietitian that helps women with hormone-positive breast cancer learn to make fearless food decisions. Many cancer survivors use food as a coping mechanism and control strategy when everything else in their life feels out of control. 

Disordered eating patterns can take on many forms from anorexia and bulimia to orthorexia, something I struggled with at the beginning of my recovery. Orthorexia is an obsession with healthy foods and no food is healthy enough. 

I was very strict with what I allowed myself to consume, and though I enjoyed the foods I did eat, making decisions about what to eat from a place of fear and control did steal a lot of my joy in life.

Food is after all one thing we all have in common and it is over meals that we share our lives.

In this episode, Cathy shares strategies for making fearless food decisions and taking back your joy in eating. 

Debunking Common Myths

We talk about some commonly held beliefs about soy and sugar. Are they beneficial? Which type is okay to consume? How much is too much? How do you metabolize them? And do you feel comfortable eating them at all?

“[Get the facts about food] and then you take the facts and you decide if you want to include it in your diet or do you want to cut it out.”

Cathy Leman

Looking at the Evidence

We also talk about diet recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the benefits of plant-based diets like the Mediterranean Diet. Knowing the science behind these recommendations can put your worries at ease and help you make fearless food decisions.

“Nutrition is a science, not an opinion.” Cathy Leman

Cathy Leman

Attaining a Sense of Normalcy

Cathy doesn’t like the word moderation because it isn’t quantitative and means different things to different people. But she does advocate for eating a healthy diet in alignment with your beliefs of what that is. 

“It’s your pattern of eating over time, not one piece of birthday cake, that makes a difference in your health.”

Cathy Leman

Your Food Choices Should Align with Your Beliefs About Health

You get to choose how and what you eat in all situations. You are always in charge of your health. You will feel less fear and anxiety when the choices you make about what to eat align with your philosophy on what a healthy diet is and what foods fit into that pattern of eating.

This is where I talk to my clients about the 80/20 approach to healthy eating. It’s the things you do on a daily, consistent basis that contribute to health, not big sweeping changes or the rare consumption of a healthy food. 

“It’s not about what you should or shouldn’t do, it’s about what you want to do.”

Cathy Leman

Highlights from this episode include:

  • 1:53 Cathy’s cancer experience.
  • 2:30 Cathy’s unwanted club.
  • 3:22 What it means to eat without stress and guilt.
  • 6:21 Disordered eating patterns.
  • 8:29 Phytoestrogens in our food.
  • 15:30 AICR diet recommendations.
  • 22:18 Nutrition is not a perfect science.
  • 23:44 Continuous Update Project and survivorship.
  • 26:34 The benefits of a plant-based diet.
  • 29: 52 The role of nutrigenomics and precision nutrition.
  • 32:07 Addressing food fears and anxiety after cancer.
  • 36:18 Does sugar feed cancer?
  • 41:02 Normal vs moderation.
  • 47:44 Making changes to diet and lifestyle.

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research)
  • Continuous Update Project (CUP)

A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.

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Making Fearless Food Decisions with Cathy Leman


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