Necessary Nutrition

Nutrition is a behemoth subject in the world of FC (F-bomb Cancer).  We all know that eating veggies, fruit and fiber is the way to stay healthy and lose weight.  Whether we choose to eat this way is another matter, however. That’s a whole other topic, though.

Prior to my FBC diagnosis, I considered myself pretty healthy.  I was 85% vegan, eating fish and goat cheese a couple of times a week.  I must admit, however, that I did go to In-N-Out Burger a couple of times a year for a double-double, animal style…and fries, animal style. And a chocolate shake.  And no, I didn’t share…not even with Finally Five. Seriously. (When I jump off the vegan truck, I jump BIG!)  I also have a sweet tooth.  Or should I say sweet teeth?

Once FC enters life, nutrition ascends to the top of the priority list and stays there throughout the trajectory of treatment…and beyond.

Incorporating a Registered Dietitian (RD) into your FC health care team is absolutely imperative because food plays a crucial role in supporting treatment, healing and preventing recurrence.  (It also helps with FC prevention, by the way, but I missed that part!)

When I was in my mid-chemo all-consuming nausea and puke face period, a Silver Lining came to me in the form Rachel Beller. I have been consulting with her (by phone) for several months now and feel sooooo much better as a result.

Here is a little background on Rachel.  She is a Registered Dietitian with a Masters degree in Nutritional Science from UCLA. She founded the Beller Nutritional Institute in Beverly Hills to translate her clinical research into real-world results. Her areas of expertise include nutritional oncology, wellness and preventative health, weight management, cardiovascular health and diabetes.

Because of my experience in health care and my own academic background, I am…well, let’s just say that I am very discerning when it comes to the members of my health care team.

I absolutely looooove Rachel’s combination of science and straight-talk.  Rhetoric to reality. She’s smart and cool and funny and accessible.

Her background is substantial and credible. Rachel conducted extensive research in the role of nutrition in cancer prevention at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the John Wayne Cancer Institute. She also served as the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s Director of Nutritional Oncology Research and Counseling for a decade. During this time she served as the co-principal investigator in the national Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS), and received awards for research, recruitment and lectureship.  Additionally, Rachel currently serves as a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. See what I mean about smart?

Rachel is solutions-oriented.  She combines a rigorous, scientific perspective with an upbeat, action-oriented approach to nutrition.

I hope that this sounds like a Rachel Beller infomercial, because she is that amazing.

I’m going to write a lot more about nutrition (and how she saved me when I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair), but in the meantime, I’ve asked Rachel a few questions, beginning with the connection between nutrition and cancer prevention, treatment and long-term prevention of recurrence.  She said:

Nutritional science offers the greatest hope in the fight against cancer…(tons of research out there!) and following this science is a critical, proactive role we all can take!  Cancer prevention and recovery are  so intimately linked to what we eat, that at BNI (Beller Nutrition Institute), we look at food as preventative medicine. We call it “eating for the immune system,” because studies show that proper nutrition may actually enhance chemo and radiation therapy because good nutrition builds up the body’s natural defense.  Research has confirmed time and time again that certain foods, combinations of foods, and cooking methods can help us feel better, perform better, and heal better both during and post cancer treatment. It comes down to understanding how to translate this nutritional science into our shopping carts, and we offer just that- effective strategies and actionable solutions for patients so they can get going now!

Rachel Beller


I had a few other questions for her, which she kindly answered:

1. When I wake up, I: I think about positive things to do and enjoy or accomplish in regards t family and professional.

2. Before I go to bed, I: write 50 emails and read.

3. In your refrigerator now: Low-mercury tuna salad, broccoli sprouts, and tons and tons of veg!

4. Favorite quality in a person: happy, fun, connectable

5. Favorite spa treatment (to enhance nutrition): seaweed facial when I have time to squeeze them into my life

6. Drink: I love mint ginger tea. It’s easy to make too—I take mint, pieces of fresh ginger, and a tiny bit of agave… it’s so good!

7. Favorite books: nutrition books.. seriously, it’s all I read.

8. Guilty pleasure: NY pizza

9. Why did you become a nutritionist? I became a nutritionist because of my own weight issues as a college student, so I know what many of my patients are going through, and how hard it is to find the right foods. One day you think you’re doing the right thing, the next you hear the ‘health food’ you’re eating is pure hype— or worse. Then my father succumbed to cancer. That’s when I decided it wasn’t enough to learn about low-fat and low-calories, but wanted to learn how nutrition affects total health. I found that I couldn’t necessarily trust the dietary advice coming from celebrity chefs, fitness trainers and other un-credentialed individuals hopping on the nutrition bandwagon. Basically I was at a loss of what to do,  and my dream was to help people navigate through better nutritional choices, to fight cancer, lose weight, diabetes, heart disease and address overall prevention.  In order to do that, I needed to learn the scientific truth for myself. One of my current passions is translating nutritional science into shopping cart solutions.  I would like to make eating right as enjoyable as shopping for fashion (which is the goal of my upcoming book).

10. Who was your biggest childhood influence? My Parents

12. A great idea is: To get people to take action by translating nutritional science into action!

13. Pet peeve: People who complain all the time.

14. Happiness is: A great family and realizing you are the best version of yourself that you can be.

Rachel is the realest of real Silver Linings in my life!

Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food

– Hippocrates


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  1. says

    You have really connected with so many amazing, inspiring people throughout this chapter of your life, haven't you Hollye?!

    PS. I must admit, I have the occasional Animal Style foray at In & Out myself :)


  2. Kim says

    I couldn't agree with you more. I felt very lost at the beginning of my cancer journey and not sure where to turn after conventional medicine had claimed me cancer free. I began to research Integrated Health Care Programs (mind, body and soul). By combining conventional medicine (surgery, chemo/radiation) with scientifically proven healthy habits (diet, exercise & psychotherapy) and wisdom based healing techniques (yoga, meditation etc.) we can maximize our chances of recovery from cancer. To become empowered and take charge of our cancer journey and feel healthy and whole once again. The road is long and not always easy, but it helps to work toward a goal of wellness and to use the resources that are available to us. I live in Vancouver, BC and am fortunate that this resource is free (Gov't Funded) – For any Canadian readers go to:

  3. says

    Looking forward to reading her book when she writes it!

    How wonderful you have been able to surround yourself with these remarkable people! You know they say; you attract what you present. Remarkable :-) Just saying :-)

    That light at the end of the tunnel must be getting very bright about now!

    Sending you love, respect and that wonderful Texas sunshine!