Savor Health

I tugged at my mini-skirt as I took my seat in Mrs. Jackson’s 7th grade home economics class.  My desk faced the three mini-kitchens where the mysteries of meal planning and preparation would be revealed, an opportunity that would disappear from the school curriculum later in the 80’s.  On that particular day our teacher started her class with words of wisdom that she hoped would stay with us for a lifetime.  Those words were “you are what you eat”.  Oh, how we giggled and made fun, saying “I’m pork and beans; you’re a hot dog!”  I wish now that I’d taken my teacher’s words more seriously.  For more decades than I care to admit, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted.  Later in life, as a mother, I raised my children to be poor eaters as well, rewarding them with sweet treats for their frequent accomplishments.  For some reason, though, upon marrying and becoming a mother herself, our daughter Katie learned better.

Katie’s lean toward healthy food became obvious in 2010 after my routine mammogram revealed a small lump, which we later learned was HER2 breast cancer.  As soon as she heard the bad news, Katie began to research treatment options, supplements, and foods that would build up my immune system and help as a weapon against my cancer.  The first time we were together after my diagnosis, she presented me with a notebook that outlined my new nutrition plan.   I’d love for you to go to our website and learn the rest of our inspirational story of how she risked her own health to save mine.

If you have chosen Meals to Heal as your nutrition program, you are in good hands.  But if you are a cancer patient or caregiver, standing at the opened fridge door and wondering what’s for dinner, you might find my strategies for healthier eating helpful.

 

SNACK WELL

At our first training session, our daughter Katie “gently” mentioned to me that eating raw vegetables, say as an afternoon snack, would be a good thing.  To me, “snack” meant something chewy-gooey sweet.  I remember that I only stared at her with a blank face, finally responding,  “Vegetables…for a snack?  Why bother?” Turns out that the switch from sweets to veggies was not that difficult.  Motivated by my daughter’s love and concern, I began to choose veggies, such as sugar snap peas, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, even raw brussel sprouts between meals.  Once I had broken my addiction to sugary snacks, I was able to add fruits and occasionally a sweet treat made with healthier ingredients to my between-meal munching.

It has helped me to make my own fast-food snack packs.  I clean fresh fruits and veggies, such as oranges, carrots, grapes, strawberries, or nuts and pack them in snack-sized bags, ready to drop into my purse when going out.  Maybe once a week I’ll chop a portion of a chocolate bar that’s made with 70% or greater cocoa content, and mix it with nuts and dried fruit. Yum.  Plain flavored yogurt, drizzled with raw honey or pure maple syrup is also nice between meals.

 

BECOME A LABEL READER

After some frustrating experiences at making out the tiny print, I finally learned to stick my reading glasses in my purse before going to grocery shop.  I began to take a look at preservatives on product labels.  If it read as though the food had been produced in a chemistry lab, it was not something I would want to eat.

Most experts agree that white bread, white sugar and white rice should be avoided.  Experiment, as I did, by substituting brown rice for white.  You’ll find lots of options for whole wheat and multigrain products like buns, tortillas and pita at most grocery stores.  Make sure the products display the golden 100% whole grain stamp.  Bread with flax, oats or other grains along with whole wheat would be a great choice.  Avoid those bread products whose labels start off with the words “enriched flour”.

My main interest continues to be focusing on the sugar content printed on labels: every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon.  So… a ½ cup serving of a popular ice cream contains 21 grams of sugar. That’s over 5 teaspoons of sugar!  Also we should avoid artificial sweeteners such as Saccharin, Sucralose and Aspartame.

Look for products made with healthy oils, such as extra-virgin- olive oil, grapeseed oil, or flax seed oil.  Avoid using cooking oils that are high in saturated or trans fats such as vegetable shortening.

 

CH-CH-CHANGES

My next step, strongly suggested by my daughter, was to find a substitute for canned pop, my drink of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  One can of coke or my old friend Dr. Pepper contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.  That’s 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon! Per can!  I did it cold turkey and switched to water and green tea.  Filtered water with a slice of citrus such as lime, lemon or orange can be very tasty!

Barbeque sauce, catsup and pancake syrup are full of sugar.  Sometimes I still give in to the old habit of eating them but I’ve learned to pour one tablespoon on my plate and dip the food into it, instead of pouring the sauce over the food.

Most foods are assigned a glycemic index, which means a number between 1 and 100 that tells how quickly the food is converted into sugars in the body.  Choosing foods that are low-glycemic and high in fiber is our weapon for good health.

You have all probably experienced the sugar rollercoaster:  you eat something sweet.  Your blood sugar spikes.  Insulin is released and your blood sugar drops.  You feel tired which leads to eating more sweets.  When cooking we choose the sugar substitutes like coconut palm sugar, raw honey, or pure maple syrup, all having a much lower glycemic index.  We switched to better flour choices, such as whole wheat pastry flour (it does not have a cardboard taste, as some whole wheats do), almond flour, oat flour and coconut flour.

 

FIBER UP

Fiber is an amazing nutrient that can protect heart health, lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss and prevent cancer.

We added fiber, lots of fiber, to my diet.  Mayo Clinic  recommends that women over 51 years of age need  a minimum of 21to 25 grams of fiber each day, and men of that age 30 to 38 grams per day.  I challenge you to count your fiber intake. I eat around 40 grams per day and never felt better!   This chart of high fiber foods could be helpful from The Mayo Clinic.

 

 

WE DON’T USE THE D-WORD

“Clean-eating” is the trendy term for those who focus on consuming food in it most natural state.  As Katie writes on our website “We have never thought about what we are doing as a ‘diet’.  We don’t go around feeling deprived, nor do we sulk about our Whole Grain Banana Muffins when our girlfriends order Italian Cream Cake.”  In fact, we’ve developed recipes for healthier occasional desserts and posted them on our website.  We have also hand picked a huge collection of clean-eating desserts recipes from other cooks on Pinterest and we invite you to visit us.

I wish I could tell you that healthy food can cure cancer.  That’s seldom, if ever, true.  But, eating well can help prevent cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  It can make us stronger should we have to face illness, which it did for me when my breast cancer came back into my lymph nodes last October, catapulting my cancer up to stage IV.  I was given a combination of three IV-administered chemo drugs weekly for 12 weeks.  My pet scan in March 2014 revealed that I am once again in remission!

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Susan started Savor Health after losing a close friend to a brain tumor and, through that experience, becoming aware of the significant unmet nutritional needs of people with cancer.  Struck by the fact that her friend was told “nutrition doesn’t matter” and “eat whatever you want,” Susan read the evidence-based literature on the subject, interviewed oncologists, oncology nurses and oncology dietitians, as well as patients and caregivers, and found that, in fact, nutrition does matter in oncology. Armed with solid scientific evidence supporting the clinical and quality of life benefits of proper nutrition, Susan left Wall Street and created Savor Health, an AI-based provider of personalized and clinically appropriate nutrition solutions for cancer patients, their caregivers and health enterprises. Susan brings to Savor Health over 25 years of industry experience in healthcare and business as well as expertise in strategy, finance and management.

Susan is an outspoken and tireless advocate for cancer patients receiving proper nutrition and nutrition support before, during and after treatment. She strongly believes that the U. S. healthcare system requires new innovation to transform it into a more holistic and integrated system of care whereby multiple disciplines coordinate care together for the benefit of the whole patient. As part of this, her goal is for nutrition to be an integral component of such an integrated cancer care delivery system.  Susan’s commitment to the field of oncology extends beyond Savor Health to volunteer work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in pediatrics and as a runner for Fred’s Team to raise money for research at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Susan participated in the Cancer Moonshot in June of 2016 where she was a breakout session group “igniter” tasked with starting and leading discussion. Susan’s first book, the Meals to Heal Cancer Cookbook, was published in March 2016.

In addition to her role as CEO of Savor Health, Susan speaks nationally about the importance of ensuring proper nutrition in the cancer patient and on topics including leadership and startups. She has been a speaker at the Harvard Medical School’s Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare, ESMO World Congress on GI Cancer, BioPharm America, AARP Live @50+, Lake Nona Impact Forum, and IIR ePharma Summit.

Prior to starting Savor Health, Susan had a successful career on Wall Street as a healthcare services investment banker working at prestigious firms including Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Wasserstein Perella and Robertson Stephens. Susan earned a B.A. from Duke University and M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business.

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Marissa Buchan is a registered dietitian, with advanced practice certifications in Oncology Nutrition (CSO) and Clinical Research (CCRP). She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Duke University, and Master’s of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Marissa worked for 10 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in both the clinical research and nutrition departments.  In addition to counseling patients before, during, and after cancer therapy, she spearheaded nutrition-research efforts for the bone marrow transplant service. She has co-authored over 20 articles and has a particular interest in the role of nutrition on the intestinal microbiota and its impact on patient outcomes. When Marissa’s not wearing her lab coat, she’s in her apron whipping up healthy and delicious recipes that you can find on her blog, Get Off Your Tush and Cook.

Marissa is Chief Operating Officer of Savor Health where she leads operations working with the technology, clinical, and business development teams and management. Prior to assuming the role of COO in March 2020, Marissa was Vice President, Clinical Research and Operations at Savor Health where she worked closely with Savor Health’s Chief Medical Advisor, Scientific Advisory Board, and Clinical Operations Team to evaluate, design and conduct clinical research.  She also counsels patients on oncology nutrition issues and contributes to the Company website’s clinical content.

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Dr. DeFrance has a unique background including clinical interventional cardiologist, chief medical officer, educator, outcomes researcher and entrepreneur. He has expertise in Lifestyle medicine in which he was board certified in 2020 and is highly interested in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Dr. DeFrance also has expertise in appropriate utilization of technology in medicine, healthcare economics, value-based metrics, and educational design and delivery. He worked as Chief Medical Officer for HealthHelp, one of the largest specialty benefit managers in the US, and led large teams of healthcare professionals in writing evidence based appropriate care guidelines and rule sets which improve the quality and safety of medicine for over 20 million people in the US while also creating sustained savings in healthcare. He has also designed clinical decision support systems that are currently in use helping to improve patient care.

In 2018 Dr. DeFrance founded MedMentor Education, a company that provides state of the art CME content using the latest in eLearning science and online delivery platforms. Dr. DeFrance is also the founder and President of Digimedica, a consulting and educational design and delivery company for healthcare professionals, hospitals, and universities. He is passionate about creating systems to optimize knowledge transfer and has won numerous awards for teaching excellence during his career. He is an expert in cardiovascular CT imaging and has taught more than 3,000 physicians how to perform and interpret cardiac CT nationally and internationally and has lectured extensively on this subject.

Dr. DeFrance has a stellar reputation in the medical field and continues work to improve the quality and safety of patient care in the US.

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Alyson is a registered nurse and is certified in oncology nursing (OCN) through the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS). She also has her certification as an ONS Biotherapy and Chemotherapy Provider. Alyson studied nursing at Thomas Jefferson University where she obtained her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). Since starting her nursing career in 2004, Alyson has had a strong dedication and commitment to oncology patients. She has worked inpatient specializing in Bone Marrow and Peripheral Blood Stem Cell Transplantation. Alyson currently works in outpatient oncology at the North Shore-LIJ Monter Cancer Center. Alyson is part of the clinical team at Savor Health where she counsels patients on oncology and oncology nutrition issues and contributes to website and other Savor Health content.

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Chelsey is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology nutrition (CSO). She completed her Dietetic Internship at Northwell Health, received her BS in Dietetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MS in Nutrition at Stony Brook University’s School of Medicine. Chelsey works as an outpatient dietitian at Mount Sinai covering all of the downtown cancer services at Mount Sinai Beth Israel and Philips Ambulatory Care Center. Chelsey works with patients and families before, during and after treatment to optimize their nutrition through dietary counseling and support. Chelsey has experience counseling clients with a variety of diagnoses including breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, head & neck cancer, and more. Chelsey also enjoys sharing nutrition knowledge with her peers by running a monthly Employee Wellness program that showcases healthy topics, recipes and food demos.

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Michelle is a Registered Dietitian specializing in oncology. She works as a clinical dietitian at an ambulatory cancer center in New York City and is a consultant for Savor Health. She is passionate about educating oncology patients on the importance of nutrition during their fight against cancer and helping them to optimize their nutrition through all phases of treatment. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University.

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Denise Sievering is a Registered Dietitian who is board certified in Oncology Nutrition as well as Nutrition Support. A fluent Spanish speaker, Denise joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Denise holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University, and completed her internship at New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP). Denise started her career as a registered dietitian at NYP-Columbia University Medical Center, primarily covering inpatient Oncology units. Denise also holds a Master of Arts degree in Mental Health Counseling from New York University, and incorporates her advanced training in motivational interviewing and empathic listening in her patient encounters, particularly those whose lives have been forever changed by a cancer diagnosis. A New Jersey native, Denise now resides in sunny San Diego, CA where she works as a part-time outpatient Oncology dietitian at Scripps Health-MD Anderson Cancer Center, and also works as an inpatient dietitian at Kaiser Permanente. In her spare time, Denise can be found at a mom-and-pop taco shop, one of the many local craft breweries, and exploring her new city of San Diego with her husband and her rescue pup, Ripley.

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Karen is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and registered in New York as a Certified Dietitian Nutritionist. Fluent in Spanish, Karen joined the Savor Health team to support Spanish speaking cancer patients and to continue to expand the Platform’s nutritional strategies and recommendations in Spanish. Karen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Ithaca College and her Master of Science degree from Hunter College. She works as an outpatient oncology dietitian in New York. Karen often works with local community centers to host nutrition programs for cancer survivors and their families, leading classes on how to live healthier lifestyles throughout their continuum of care. The American Institute of Cancer Research selected to showcase one of her many programs at their conference in 2019. Karen has written for and lent commentary to various publications and truly enjoys teaching people how to eat better. She loves to cook and strongly feels that healthy food doesn’t have to taste bad.

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Allie is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Specialist in Oncology (CSO). She joins Savor in 2023, bringing years of experience from the John Theurer Cancer Center in New Jersey, where she worked with patients with a variety of cancers. Her goal is to help people feel their best, both mentally and physically, when physical health challenges arise. She believes in the power of nutrition ever since the impact it made on her athletic career as a volleyball player during college. Allie graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Maryland-Baltimore County and has her Master’s degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Wisconsin Stout. She enjoys travelling, enjoying different cuisines, cooking, and hiking and other outdoor activities with her family and dog.

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Julia Penberg is a seasoned healthcare professional with more than 30 years of experience focusing on maximizing operational excellence, leading clinical program development and building strong cross-functional teams. Her previous roles include overseeing the performance of clinical managers and nurse practitioners across multiple markets within United Healthcare-Optum’s Medicare Advantage and dual-eligible special needs populations, payer outreach and program development at Mayo Clinic, ground level specialty hospital development and direct patient care as a family and dermatology nurse practitioner. Julia volunteered as an operating room nurse and nurse practitioner on several mission trips to Romania and was a support group leader for the Kansas City chapter of the International Myeloma Foundation. Her motivation throughout her career has been with wellness promotion, disease risk modification and ensuring the best patient experience across the health continuum. Ms. Penberg received an MBA from the University of Dallas; a MS in Nursing from the University of Kansas and a BS in Nursing from the University of Texas-Austin. She is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

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Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (“CSO”). She joined NYP-Columbia as the outpatient oncology dietitian in 2020 after working at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for two years. Rachel completed her dietetic internship through Keene State College in 2017. She is pursuing an MS in Integrative Nutrition at Stony Brook University and has a BS in Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise from Virginia Tech. Rachel provides nutrition counseling to all types of oncology patients and helps them understand the mental and physical benefits of nutrition as an ally in their fight against cancer. In her free time she enjoys slow meals with family and friends, Pilates, and tending to her fire escape garden.

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Allie Werner is a Registered Dietitian at Fresenius Kidney Care where she provides medical nutrition therapy diet counseling to patients on Dialysis. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in nutrition from Indiana University and completed her Master’s Degree and dietetic internship at Loyola University Chicago. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, checking out the amazing food scene in downtown Chicago, and exercising on her Peloton bike.

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Immersed in the tech world for a decade, I've coded, led teams, and honed my skills in architecture and design. As a tech enthusiast, I've seamlessly woven through full-stack projects, fusing my love for code with the art of leadership.

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Mohit is a full-stack developer with expertise in Python and JavaScript, known for his efficient coding and ability to deliver scalable software solutions. His technical contributions are highlighted on GitHub and Stack Overflow, demonstrating his commitment to the tech community and problem-solving skills. With a solid educational foundation and a diverse project portfolio, Mohit excels at navigating complex challenges and is well-equipped to contribute to dynamic software projects.

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Rayna McCann is a Registered Dietitian and Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition. She is a Registered Yoga Teacher and yoga4cancer certified. She received her BS in Nutrition at Penn State University and her MS from Stony Brook University. For work, Rayna wears many hats in the world of nutrition and worked for years in clinical settings focusing on oncology nutrition. She is also an Adjunct Professor and passionate about inspiring the future of dietitians. Throughout her career, she has received awards recognizing her dedication to patient safety and her contributions to improving malnutrition awareness. In 2022, Rayna was proud to accept the ‘Dietitian of the Year’ award through the Long Island Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Rayna has co-authored abstracts for poster presentations within the American Institute for Cancer Research conference, as well as, the Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference Expo and subsequent publication. She has enjoyed authoring articles, including an article for The Cure magazine regarding Multiple Myeloma and nutrition. When Rayna is not participating in nutrition related activities, she is dedicated to dog rescue.

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