Welcome breast cancer sisters, family and friends. We hope to make this chapter of your life a little easier, treatment less difficult, help families cope, provide inspiration and guide you to a new place of strength and purpose.

Because of Breast Cancer, I Can’t Eat What?

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

If there had been a 12-step program for peanut butter a few years ago, I would’ve found a meeting, plopped myself down in the front row and said, “Hi. My name is Brenda, and I am a peanut butter-aholic.” My habit was so bad, my husband and son would buy their own jars and hide them from me because I blew through at least one large jar a week. No pretense of a sandwich for me. I ate it spoon after spoon, straight from the jar while standing at the kitchen counter.

After my breast cancer diagnosis I consulted a nutritionist and learned about the various sources of protein and decided there was a chance I wasn’t a peanut butter-aholic after all. My copious consumption of peanut butter could have been my body’s way of screaming for more protein. My shame was lifted! I also learned peanuts were high on the list of foods containing phytoestrogens and were not a good idea if I wanted to lower my risk of recurrence. Because phytoestrogens are thought to bind to the estrogen receptors in our body, and because my breast cancer was fueled by estrogen, I went cold turkey on peanut butter and am proud to say I haven’t had a spoonful since. I have, however, discovered raw almond butter.

Unlike peanut butter, raw almond butter contains no added ingredients or preservatives and has less hydrogenated oils, plus no salt or sugar. Almond butter is full of monounsaturated fats, which are good for your heart and helps control blood sugar, plus it has more calcium, iron and Vitamin E than peanut butter. As my “Type A” self is inclined to do, I took this discovery one step further and became a connoisseur who decided the best raw almond butter was from England and could only be purchased on the Internet. The problem was, by the time I converted English pounds to American dollars, and added tax and shipping, my weekly fix was $30 a jar. A small jar. If that wasn’t bad enough, I recently discovered a terrible new twist to my nut butter saga.

Some phytoestrogenic foods may actually be protective by binding to our estrogen receptors, thus blocking estrogen, which sounds like a good thing, but nobody really knows which ones are the good phytoestrogen foods and which are the bad. Oh, but wait… The plot thickens. Some experts suggest almonds may be as bad for me as peanuts. That may, or may not mean they are on the list of bad phytoestrogen foods, but not knowing, once again, I have gone cold turkey on a beloved nut butter.

Addictions are tricky things: You start small, just a spoon or two, then before you know it, you’ve consumed a whole jar in less than a week. Where will it stop? Will I move on to more addicting things, and what might they be? Is this how addicts become thieves, selling stolen merchandise to supplement their cravings? Sometimes I long for the little girl who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Campbell’s bean soup while she read Nancy Drew. I’m really glad she didn’t know about peanut butter-aholics and phytoestrogens.