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Riding High

February 12, 2012

Duck fat. Pork fat. Butter. Chicken skin. Cream. Sour cream. Bacon. Beef tallow. Cheese. Deep fried hamburgers slathered in butter and hot pepper sauce. Ice cream. Teawurst. Egg and cheese sandwiches. Donuts. Duck, foie gras and sauternes sausages.

Depending on how you look at things, these are either the highlights or lowlights of my diet. To say that I’ve recently let myself go is a bit of an understatement.

A while back I got a bad cholesterol report. My doctor wanted to put me on meds. But I pleaded with her to give me a shot at turning around my numbers with massive changes to my diet. And I did it. By cutting ice cream out of my diet, abandoning butter, adding a massive quantity of whole grains, and skipping out on fried foods (among a host of other unpleasant things) I brought my numbers down.

So, I did what anyone would do. I celebrated. And I cut loose. And I started to allow myself all of those delightful and forbidden foods.

But the party is over.

I did have high hopes that by balancing some of my favorite unhealthy things with a diet otherwise rich in whole grains and generally healthful stuff, that I’d be able to squeak by my annual physical exam.

Well, maybe not such high hopes. It’s kind of why I was dragging my feet to schedule the damn thing. But getting blood work done in early February meant that all the damage I did to my body over Chanukah and New Years was still rattling around in my veins. So in the end I did myself no favors.

Needless to say, my numbers are up. And now I’ve got a new number.

Twelve. Because I have twelve weeks to right the ship. Twelve weeks to get back on track. I’m abandoning the half eaten tub of sour cream in the fridge. The leftover bit of Buffalo sauce from the Super Bowl will soon be tossed. I’m not even going to buy any more potato chips.

Instead I’m doubling down on my Cowbella fat free yogurt with organic granola. I found a granola yesterday that contains flax and hemp seeds. Hot oatmeal will once again make it into regular rotation. I may even skip the egg on my current favorite kimchi fried rice.

Eggs are actually the big question. I’ll need to do some more research on them and cholesterol, because I know there are those who claim they are fine. But I am truly convinced that nobody knows anything, so I may just err on the side of caution and skip them entirely.

Now, do not fear. I do not intend to start living like a hermit and stop exploring some of the wonderful foods of our region.

The Tour de Hard Ice Cream is still on (although I might be tempted to schedule it for May). I still intend to do the cupcake thing. And I will continue to ferret out new and delicious things to eat for All Over Albany.

But I am going to take another break from cheese. I’m going back to buttery olive oils in lieu of butter. That trip to the Pig Pit is probably on hold as barbecue doesn’t quite fit into the new cruelty. I’ll be moving from leg-thighs to skinless breasts.

It’s going to be hard. And I’m going to be grumpy. I mean, extra grumpy.

But I may learn how to make my own granola. And I might spend some time trying to uncover the secret about eggs and cholesterol. Perhaps I’ll start drinking more red wine. New bean dishes that aren’t enriched with pork fat could make it into rotation.

There are endless possibilities. And in twelve weeks, should I get a positive report, I suspect my doctor is going to tell me to keep up the good work. She has asked for lifestyle changes and not some kind of crash diet.

Still, if my numbers do go down, a bit of celebrating will be in order. Perhaps after that I’ll be able to get back onto the virtuous path. But I suspect on that path there will be an occasional wedge of good cheese.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2012 10:06 am

    Tag line for my favorite commercial, “YOU CAN’T FOOL MOTHER NATURE!” Good luck with your plan. The meds aren’t so bad…and they give you a little flexibility.

  2. ashallann permalink
    February 12, 2012 10:19 am

    I’m sure you’ll find a way to make your new path healthy and delicious. Just wanted to share this recipe for granola I found awhile back when I started converting to a vegan diet, it’s pretty good! http://ohsheglows.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6001804

  3. February 12, 2012 11:20 am

    Give it up, take the meds and enjoy life.

  4. February 12, 2012 11:53 am

    Remind me to loan you “Moosewood Cooks at Home,” and “The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook.” And my cousin is a nutritionist for the Egg Board of Canada – they’re the perfect protein. Let me know if you want me to put the two of you in touch.

  5. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    February 12, 2012 11:56 am

    Watch the carbs on your new diet! They lead to high triglycerides, which my doc tells me is far worse than high cholesterol.

  6. February 12, 2012 12:53 pm

    What about exercise? I barely changed my diet (in fact, among other things, I switched my breakfast from oatmeal to eggs), but when I finally started working out again (after slacking off post-kids), my tricglycerides went down from 179 to 95 over a year and a half or two.

    It doesn’t seem like you should focus all on diet when food gives you so much pleasure. . . . whatever you do, good luck with it!

    • February 12, 2012 4:37 pm

      Seconding this. I don’t have cholesterol issues (fortunately!), but most of the research I’ve read has suggested that, if you want to lose weight, start with eating less; but if you want to get healthy, start with exercise. Obviously, that’s extremely simplistic, and you can’t “train out bad habits” (so to speak), but it helps you to live, well, less monk-like.

  7. -R. permalink
    February 12, 2012 2:06 pm

    Despite exercise and cutting back on refined sugars and saturated fats, my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers were still high, mainly due to genetics.

    Screw it – take the statin, continue to be moderate and you’ll be fine without having to resort to utter austerity in eating. Much easier.

  8. February 12, 2012 2:55 pm

    When I read the bit about giving up cheese, my heart hurt for you. Barbeque, eggs, even icecream, fine. But cheese?!

    On an optimistic note, there are wonderful things that can be done with oatmeal these days, and who doesn’t love more red wine in their diet? Best of luck, looking forward to hearing the good report!

  9. February 12, 2012 4:18 pm

    Please do tell me where you found this granola with flax and hemp seeds! :)

  10. ThinkAndDo permalink
    February 12, 2012 6:47 pm

    Don’t be grumpy! There’s nuggets of great supportive advice in the above comments. And in defense of austerity, it makes the occasional splurge that much more luxurious. Coupled with exercise, even if you get saddled with meds, your fussy little body will feel much better.

    My own wakeup call was my physician’s almost too eager willingness to put me on meds for high blood pressure. Granted, it’s a little less complex to address than cholesterol issues, but I changed my diet, began bicycle commuting, lost a ton of weight, and everything’s now copasetic. The only downside is that I’m writing less restaurant reviews on Yelp.

  11. February 12, 2012 7:37 pm

    Well, you’ve gotten lots of interesting advice, some of it fairly divergent. I will not add more, I’ll just say sorry and that really does suck. When food is such a meaningful part of your life, restricting the things you love and the things that give you so much pleasure is no small task. I wish you strength in that necessary endeavor.

  12. February 12, 2012 8:26 pm

    I believe in regular exercise, along with a 75% culinary austerity/25% piggish indulgence split. Seems to work for me, I have never had a blood pressure/cholesterol problem. A few times a week I do a 5 or 10K, a few other times I go lift weights. I eat like a bird most days, and then devour crap when I get the yen. I feel like this method leads me to savor the crap food with more relish.

    In any event, out of all of the proffered advice, I agree with the fact that you must exercise. That is where it all begins, it doesn’t really matter what you eat if you don’t exercise, you will never be healthy.

    • February 13, 2012 10:36 am

      mr. dave speaks great things, but that last sentence is really key. I’d say I’m on a similar split (about 25% indulgence), and exercise is essential to keep things in line.

      I don’t think it would really even take much exercise for you, Daniel, to make the numbers better.

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