I am a probably a disciple of Dr David Servan-Schreiber’s approach to health and diet as outlined in his book Anticancer which I’d describe as a life-changing life-enhancing read.  Whilst I wouldn’t describe Jane Freeman’s book in the same spiritual terms, I really like her common sense approach to nutrition and diet and her broad coverage of so many aspects of how you cope with eating during treatment and when digestion and interest in food is a real problem.  She has very helpful advice for when you are under-weight, over-weight, can’t taste things, feel nauseous or sick, can’t digest food, have to have dairy-free or gluten-free etc etc.  I also really appreciate her emphasis that meals are not just about food and nutrition but are also a key part of family and social life and we can be encouraged to participate in that aspect even if we all we do is push food around the plate.

The most frustrating thing about the book is the constant suggestion to discuss things with your nutritionist or dietician.  Jane seems to operate in hospitals and health authorities where such people exist and are readily available to consult!  Most people I’ve met with cancer have never encountered such a rarified being or seen reference to one in any local publications or noticeboards or been told they could be referred to one.  We think they may be mythical beings.  Nothing can take the place of actually discussing your individual problems with a real live nutritionist.

That aside, I would recommend this book to read as soon as someone is diagnosed, ideally before treatment is started, to help you plan ahead and cope.  It’s a useful resource to have at your side to dip into or in a support group or cancer centre library, alongside more inspiring books to help you change your lifestyle when you are ready.

Pub Sheldon Press 2012.  ISBN 978-1847091413