Benefits and risks accompany virtually every method of treatment. Hormonal therapy for prostate cancer is no exception. Potential risks include osteoporosis and bone fractures, cardiac effects, diabetes, depression, hot flashes and metabolic changes resulting in weight gain. (These issues are discussed on this website under “My Story”, 2009 entries of July 5th-27th, September 29th, October 20th, November 25th, and December 6th, as well as March 12th, 2010.) I have been on continuous or intermittent hormonal therapy since August, 2006. Fortunately, my side effects have been minimal although I had gained approximately fifteen pounds. I was told by a urologist that it was difficult to lose weight while on hormonal therapy. Eventually however, I was determined to lose these unwanted pounds. It has not been easy but I have lost most of the weight while continuing my therapy. I found that once I made up my mind to lose the weight, it was indeed possible with diet and exercise. Here are some practical tips I learned along the way.
Personally, it helped to make an initial investment and enroll in one of the popular advertised weight loss programs. It did not take long to begin to understand their general principles and one could discontinue enrolling after a month or so thus saving money. The diets in general consisted of very low-fat, low-carbohydrate meals with moderate protein content. I found the following strategies to be helpful.
1) Eat a fairly substantial breakfast of whole-grain cereals, fruits and light soy or low-fat milk; eggs (omelets) can be substituted.
2) Eat about 5 small meals a day and eat less as the day progresses. Mid-morning and mid-afternoon 100-calorie snacks (cheese, yogurt, fruit) were useful in curbing hunger.
3) If possible, eat dinner at mid-day and your usual lunch as the evening meal. Low fat meats such as chicken, turkey, lean beef (ground sirloin, lean roast beef) as well as fish become staples. Bread was limited to 1-2 slices of 40-calorie whole grain bread daily. Fresh vegetables and salads with low-fat dressing are of course encouraged. Low-fat mayonnaise is recommended but I personally found that one could never fully replace the flavor of real mayonnaise, so I used it in moderation.
4) Sip on water during the day; drinking an 8 oz. glass before meals helped me eat less while feeling satisfied. Diet drinks can be used but I found that water alone was best in satisfying my hunger.
5) Exercise is a must. Aerobic and weight-bearing exercises are also good for healthy bones. My wife and I exercise for 60 minutes in a gym three-times a week.
6) Minimize the use of alcohol, although a small glass of wine on occasions can be incorporated.
7) To satisfy my salt craving, pretzels seemed to be lowest in calorie content.
8) Don’t eat within three hours of bedtime except for a small piece of fruit or similar low calorie snacks. Midnight snacks are forbidden.
9) The eventual goal is portion control. I found that after a few weeks, my hunger was fully satisfied with 33% less food than I had previously consumed. Maintaining this level remains my goal.