I mentioned a few weeks ago that my doctor was concerned about my cholesterol and that I was getting tested for it. Well, results are in, and although my total cholesterol level isn’t too bad, my LDL level (the bad cholesterol) is almost double the normal. EEK! I went in for a follow-up on Friday, and she gave me a “no-list” of foods that I am now only allowed to have once or twice a month, max:
Cheese of any kind
On the bright side, having a medical reason to need to watch my diet is making it a bit easier to stick to. My goal is to always refuse any foods on the no-list, because I have a feeling a few will sneak in there anyway (like yesterday when I was out to a team lunch and ordered a flatbread pizza that was light on the cilantro oil, with no sausage on it, and with no cheese, and they got all my instructions right except the no cheese). In that setting, I couldn’t really not eat, and I have a feeling there may be more situations like that where I don’t have much of a choice, so better to tell myself I can never have anything on that list. Kind of sucks, but at least it’s easy to stick to.
One thing that I don’t like about this list (besides the fact that I like red meat and cheese and don’t want to cut them out) is that it’s very specific. I would much rather have heard exactly which nutritional elements I was looking to eliminate (e.g. cholesterol and saturated fats) so that I could research foods myself. I eat a lot of random foods that don’t fit into those categories but still aren’t good for my cholesterol (e.g. sweetbreads, foie gras… although I guess the latter probably counts as red meat). Also, do you think fat free cottage cheese goes in the cheese category? I like to have that for a breakfast treat sometimes, and I’m not entirely sure.
I’m especially confused because after writing down the no-list, my doctor also told me to eat fewer bananas. She gave me an explanation about how they have a lot of sugar, and even though it’s natural sugar, it can get converted to fat/cholesterol? Or something? I didn’t really understand that discussion at all. I’ve done a bunch of googling, and everything I can find says that bananas are great for people with high cholesterol and can help to lower it. So – is my doctor crazy? Or did I completely misunderstand something? Because if I’m supposed to be cutting foods that are high in sugars (even natural sugars), do I need to cut other fruits too? Pineapple is even higher in sugar than bananas, but she didn’t say anything about that.
To help educate myself, I just requested a zillion books on lowering your cholesterol from the library. (Unfortunately, I won’t be home until June to pick them up… but at least by then they should all be ready and waiting for me in a nice big stack at the checkout desk). After reading reviews on Amazon, it seems like most of the books out there are more about how to cook healthy to lower your cholesterol… which isn’t really an option for me. If anyone has any good tips or book recommendations for how to make low cholesterol choices while still eating out all the time (beyond my no-list above), I’d love to hear it.
On that note, I just ordered a book on Amazon called The Wall Street Diet, which is supposed to be aimed at those living the executive lifestyle. (I’m nowhere near an executive, but you’d never know it from my travel schedule and my dietary habits of eating at restaurants all the time.) It’s not specifically designed to reduce cholesterol – more of a weight loss book – but I think any kind of healthier eating will help. I found a little mini cheat sheet provided by the author for flights and fast food restaurants that’s actually pretty useful, so I’m hoping the book will be great too.
More updating you on past events to come, including the kick-in-the-pants I got on Saturday from THE Jillian Michaels that is really helping!