During an annual visit to my doctor this summer, I got word that my latest round of bloodwork had continued an unfortunate trend of very high cholesterol levels. I’m not one for medicine unless necessary, and fortunately for me, my doctor likes to go that route only when there are no other options to exhaust.
So, the prescription of the moment is becoming more active along with a fairly strict change of diet, eliminating (as much as possible, anyway) carbs and sugars from my plate.
If this sounds vaguely familiar it’s because my doctor had requested I try this in the past, to which I would start out strong and quickly lose steam before falling back into an eat-anything type of pattern again.
So this latest endeavor began at the start of August, and I’m proud to say that as I write this I am successfully three months into this new way of eating. The activeness part of the prescription, I admit, still needs some work. Sure, chasing three kids around certainly feels like a physical and mental work out by the end of the day, but I’m sure the doctor has something a little more routine in mind. Over the summer I was better at getting up early in the morning before the rest of the household awoke and going for a walk. With the start of the school year, of course, our morning routine changes with the season and an early morning walk is just not feasible, unless I wanted to go for a walk in the dark at 4 am – a prospect I think I’ll pass on.
Some years ago I had stopped sugary drinks, so sodas and sugared coffee was already out of the mix. So diet-wise, it’s been all-systems go, and with a huge help from Meg, my meals have consisted pretty much of meat and veggies, fruit or eggs, or soup and salad (in some order/arrangement) for the past three months. In that time I’ve found that many of the pains my doctor chalked up to inflammation disappear. Another side effect is that in that time I’ve also lost between 13-17 pounds, which I imagine had much to do with dropping carbs from the menu. Of course, the side effect to that side effect is that many of my clothes of the past few years are now baggy on me.
I’m going to be honest in that the road hasn’t been easy. The first few weeks without carbs left me in a state of constant irritation as my body went through a withdrawal stage. And I admit it’s hard to not sample a cookie or donuts, skip the birthday cake at the kids’ parties, and leave rice or potatoes sitting on a plate at the restaurant. But, I am and three months in, I’ve gotten much better at adjusting to what I can and can’t eat.
With another round of bloodwork coming in December, I’m determined to stand firm to see if this strict diet change has made any difference in things. If so, we’ll have conquered it without the need for medication. If not, well, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it.
The motivating factor in it all? Not the numbers, but my kids. I want to make sure I’m around as long as possible to see them grow, to see them thrive, to see who they become. And it’s possible that without the right changes to my diet and health, that may not happen.
So, as much as I may soooo crave a donut now and then, I can forsake the taste of that baked good when I put it on the scale next to the future with my kids.
This isn’t an incredible shocker, as I’ve had high cholesterol most of my life.
A few years ago I was told this after blood work and the doctor told me I needed to go on statins. Not being one for medication (or the side effects that go with it), I decided a change-up to my diet was the route I’d rather go. And I did, for a bit. I fully admit I fell off that wagon over time, though and went right back into some bad habits – you know, like toast with lots of butter almost every morning with my tea, or lots of starches like rice.
I have a new doctor these days, and while she said I’m in fantastic health, she wanted to do some blood work, since it was my first visit to her. The results came back with the same old story – high cholesterol. Fortunately, her reaction was not to prescribe something, but instead to give me notes that it’s time to change-up my diet. “Cut out all sugars and starches” she said in her message.
When I used to get this news in years past, it was different. It was just me I was really worrying about. Now, there’s not only my wife, but our son. In other words I need to make sure I’m around for a while and it’s time to get back on the wagon and stay there in the hopes of bringing the bad cholesterol down.
Side note – wouldn’t you know it, I opened up the blood work results and note from my doctor when it came in the mail over the weekend and was halfway through a big starchy sandwich with chips on the side? Naturally. 😉
So, a few days in, we’re working on the changes. I admit, it’s not easy. We’ve had fish for dinner. We went out to dinner with my parents at a BBQ restaurant known for its fried food and it took my much longer than usual to figure out what to eat. I ended up with chicken that was cooked with rosemary and thyme instead of the fried of barbecued options. Instead of fries or regular potatoes, I went with a sweet potato – no butter, not brown sugar, as it usually would come. I threw a little bit of pepper on it and it was fine. It has its own flavor that tasted pretty good.
Breakfasts have been oatmeal the past few days. Though, I admit, I don’t know if I could do that every day.
I love salads, so I’m thinking there may be a lot of those in my future.
We’ll see what happens in four months when I go for the next blood work test to see if these changes have had any effect. In the meantime, I guess it’s going to take a little discipline and some creativity to make sure I stay on this train of health, for my sake, and the sake of my family.
Any low-cholesterol meal ideas are certainly welcome! 🙂
There’s no doubt that spring is here, but in case we take it for granted, mother nature gave us a nice little reminder of why it’s such a wonder to live in a place that experiences four seasons a year. It’s easy to get into the habit of complaining about one particular season (“it’s to hot out,” “I’ve had enough of this snow,” etc.) that sometimes we forget why that particular season is so wonderful and unique to itself – because it doesn’t last.
Today in the northeast, we strayed away from our recent trend of 70+ sunny days and took a dive into overcast, breezy and chilly. It was jacket weather, and boy do I love the jacket weather seasons.
I know that many people were already questioning “whatever happened to spring,” but I loved it. The windows slightly cracked on the way to work, some music on the radio reminding me of my high school and college years, and I just thought of all the wonderful September drives to school or to campus. It put a smile on my face, and while so many others were made gloomy by this sudden burst of Fall in our Spring, I was boosted, rejuvenated. I loved it.
And I remembered that the seasons are all fleeting, be their spring, summer or fall, and it’s best to enjoy them for all they are, because before you know it, they’ve passed. So, a little reminder like today was just a nice change of pace and made you not take for granted what the Spring ‘norm’ is.
At the end of the day, I put out the trash, took a look around at the branches of the trees blowing, and re-entered the house, greeted to the smell of Meg’s homemade black bean soup. The baby was fed, his laughter ringing through our home as he squished avocado through his fingers and on his face, and that delicious aroma of the homemade soup just sent a comforting thrill through my entire being.
I poured myself a pint, sat down with a bowl of soup, looked at my lovely wife and son and was reminded that yeah, life is good.
In the past week, our little guy has added solid foods to his menu. I say solid as in mushy, but heck, it’s certainly something a little more diverse than just milk, I’m sure.
Eventually we would like to begin making his food on our own. It’s amazing how much of a supply you can get out of simply pureeing a piece of fruit or vegetable, and how cost-effective! Of course, this is sometimes met with an eye roll or two from people who wonder why we would go to such trouble. I totally look forward to it, though.
Call me weird, but I look forward to the fun of choosing what types of food to make and making it as a family. Knowing what’s inside what he’s eating and where it came from. My wife and I have spent the past few years trying to eat local whenever possible. Here’s a perfect, inexpensive way for the baby to do so too. Not there yet, but I look forward to when we are.
Last week we started with Rice Cereal, which he lapped up excitingly. A few days later it was Oatmeal Cereal.
This week, drum roll please…it was sweet potato for our sweet potato, and boy, did he love it.
What a world-changing feeling to see that orange-smeared face smiling with a spoon in his mouth as he got his first tastes of new food, and liked it, to boot.
Times, they are a changing.
I might as well hand over the car keys now. 🙂