On March 4th, we held our first “Let’s WhatsApp” group chat for Breast Cancer patients and survivors. This was the first of an on-going support program we’ll be offering to help connect patients from across Lebanon and provide them an opportunity to benefit from specialists’ advice from the comfort of their own home.
For our first “Let’s WhatsApp”, clinical nutritionist Diane Nicolas, who has extensive experience working with cancer patients, was the featured specialist who volunteered her time and expertise for the session on Nutrition.
The group chat setting was intimate with five women (the majority of which had never met in person) taking part and asking their questions on topics of interest to each of them while also sharing their own tips amongst each other. Their enthusiasm and curiosity about the subject was evident from the onset!
Trigging the first discussion was the link between nutrition and cancer – and the majority agreed, that yes, it does play a role. One of the patients held a different perspective as despite having a very healthy lifestyle and diet, she still got diagnosed with cancer. So is there or isn’t there a link? Diane shed insight by explaining that although improper nutrition doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer, following the right diet and maintaining your health increases your chances of preventing it. Genetics and the environment are very important factors that also play a role, so it isn’t just nutrition that may affect your diagnosis.
Coffee was another hot topic among the women: How much was too much? What were the benefits and was there harm in adding coffee creamers, like Coffeemate, to ones cup? Another topic of much interest was meats, chickens and fish. Questions ranged from how best to cook it (Well-done? Over-cooked? Tip: Avoid burning it!) to whether eating local mezza specialties like raw meat (kebbe and kasbe naye) were harmful. Even sushi came up! Topics that always often raise question marks, like the rumored link of soy to cancer, how much chocolate is good for you and even the role of ashta in helping one lost weight came up too and were discussed further. (PS: The answers to all the above are below) Diane was very helpful and quickly answered all the questions brought up during the chat. She additionally helped break the ice at the start so that no one felt uncomfortable. Jokes, questions and even personal tips were being shared among the participants by the end of the chat – a very positive sign!
For those who missed the chat or were curious about the topics covered, we’ve compiled a short summary for you below of the top nutrition tips shared by Diane Nicolas:
- Coffeemate is not bad, but it should preferably be replaced with a more nutritious food such as milk (liquid or powdered are both good). Skimmed milk? Even better!
- Chocolate in moderation is not harmful for the health, but we must be careful not to gain weight because weight gain is closely linked to cancer.
- Chicken is not harmful if you trust the source as some chicken is injected with hormones so be careful where you get or eat it from (the size of the chicken is a helpful indication)
- A myth that was challenged? Kachta and avocado don’t help you lose weight. It’s all about reducing calories. One avocado is actually equivalent to 8 spoons of oil so avoid eating too much of it.
- Eat Fresh
- Eat fruits, vegetables and legumes more often.
- Eat only fresh Frish…
- Consume meat 2 times per week, try to avoid raw meats
- Eat preferably chicken breast.
- Consume more whole grain Lebanese bread (“2am7a kemle”)
- Limit your coffee intake to 2 cups per day.
- Don’t eat caned or smoked tuna and salmon.
- Don’t eat over-cooked meat (ma7rou2).
- Avoid raw meat (kassbeh and kebbe Nayye)
- Avoid soybeans as they are genetically modified.
- If your treatment includes cortisone, do not abuse sugar and deserts.
- Our Mediterranean diet is very healthy and complete, so don’t search for exotic foods in order to be healthier or to prevent diseases.
“Don’t eat less, but EAT RIGHT; this is the response to all illness and diseases linked to nutrition. Flash news: We are lucky to be Lebanese since our diet is known to be the best among hundred of diets all over the world. We have the healthiest mix and match: 3adas b7amod, taboule, fatouch, ma7aché, sbenikh, mloukhieh, bemye, makhlouta, labne, jebne bayda, kebbe… ” – Diane Nicolas
“I’d like to thank every person that took part in the group chat and encourage One Wig Stand for this amazing project. We are lucky to have such a support that offers knowledge and care at the same time. Thank you!” – Diane Nicolas
All the feedback we received from those who took part was very encouraging and we’re looking forward to hosting more of these group chats on different topics to benefit patients and survivors in the future. Thank you to all the ladies who took part and to the lovely Diane Nicolas for lending her time and expertise for these sessions!
Do you have a subject in mind that you’d like us to discuss in the next WhatsApp session? Is there a certain specialist you’d like to recommend who’d be interested in sharing their knowledge with others? Please feel free to suggest a topic or specialist you’d like to chat with us in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to make it happen!
If you’re a breast cancer patient, survivor or caregiver that would be interested in signing up for the next session, please send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +961 79 158 471 so we keep you posted.