Lean, Not Mean


The gene pool, 1970s version

That’s my new dietary motto.  I learned last week that my cholesterol is high.  Not drastically so, but (hem, hem) nearly double what it was last time I had a physical (more coughing… over 2 years ago).  Given that both parents likely died of heart attacks (father, definitely; mother, presumed), I need to take this seriously.

Ironically, an Arbonne friend invited me to join her on a detox that will start tomorrow.  I opted out, in part because I’m not good at extremes, I know my limits, and my brother inlaw sells Avocare and it seemed silly to pony up for a program when another company’s products are waiting for me to pay attention to them.   Just the same, I know I need to start paying close attention to what goes into my body.

Trying looking up “cholesterol-lowering foods” or something similar.  You won’t find any concise answers.  Of course, even if you did, you might want to visit Marjie’s post about a healthy heart diet by trusted sources.  The fact is, even the experts don’t agree.  I’m a huge advocate for personal management of one’s own healthcare anyway, but this is ridiculous.

Oh, my doctor-friend and I had a good laugh…  I hate chicken and neither of us cook fish in our homes because of the lingering odor.  I’m already on a high-protein, high-fiber diet, because of pre-existing health issues, so eliminating … fat? cholesterol? more stuff makes this quite the circle-jerk.

I was all set to simply say farewell to butter (except in my baking) and consider cheese a delicacy, and I already live on seafood, white pork, and the rare (pun intended) beef indulgence.  I thought I had a plan… until Marjie gently broke the news that shrimp is ridiculously high in cholesterol.  Now, see above… the experts can’t agree on that either, but I’ve decided that shrimp can no longer be my go-to “meat.”

I don’t know what’s ahead… other than due diligence and finding some healthier options.  Anyone do a plant-protein milk replacement in her coffee?  On her cereal?  I only eat cereal on the weekends, and to humor the pundits, we had oatmeal this morning.

What about tofu?  I don’t mind it in curries or some soups.  I certainly can’t dislike it much more than I do rubbery, dry chicken, but save the ground turkey advice.  Been there, done that and … no one got anything positive out of the experience, much less a tee shirt.

I did a no-animal-flesh version of vegan a few years ago and didn’t mind at all… until I began dreaming about the perfectly grilled, rare filet of beef.  I don’t eat pork too much either.  I love smoked bacon and good Carolina barbecue, but living on a pig farm that had a barn fire… well… let’s just say there’s a reason I kinda’ backed into not eating meat for a good while.

Eggs?  I won’t miss them much at all.  As with butter, I want them for baking, but I can wipe them off my personal consumption list with relative ease.  Sure, an egg sammie is awesome now and then, but I’ll be just fine with an egg substitute “mug” with some veggies tossed in.  Frankly, eggs without cheese have little meaning for me.

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

The post title?  I get mean (insert a female dog synonym) when I don’t get enough protein in my diet.  I thought doing high fiber AND high protein was a juggling act.  This is like the Wii Fit juggling game where you’re balancing on a ball while juggling…

13 comments on “Lean, Not Mean

  1. nancytimber says:

    While diet can contribute to cholesterol, hereditary plays a HUGE role, too. Just ask the one who has been on medication for years for high blood pressure and cholesterol. Sigh!

  2. km says:

    Greek yogurt has a TON of protein. I can’t eat it anymore, but I used to Love it unsweetened with a spoonful of fruit preserves on top. I’d sprinkle it with crunchy flax cereal. I should look into some of my favorite recipes. I’ll let you know if I see anything that might help you.

  3. Sue says:

    Oh bother!! Another part of adulthood that is just plain annoying. Why were we all in such a hurry to grow up? Why didn’t we know all the annoying stuff we’d have to learn to deal with?

  4. Marjie says:

    Skim milk has basically no cholesterol. My dearly beloved says it’s too watery, but I tell him that he’s being a fussbudget. Have you tried chicken thighs instead of white meat? They are a whole lot more palatable. I’m not crazy about ground turkey, either, because it dries out too easily. I’m working on putting together some information for you. But bear in mind that my dearly beloved’s highest cholesterol reading ever was 201, and with diet changes that dropped into the 180s in a month. And, yet, 7 blockages on 3 arteries, with at least 2 of them over 95% blocked, and the stress test just showed moderate blockage. Nancy is right about the hereditary thing; curse you, ancestors!

  5. Katherine says:

    With all of the heart problems in our family we are definitely heart healthy eaters. DH is the only one among us who has elevated cholesterol and his doctor’s recommendation of 2 slo niacin tablets (500mg) a day has made all the difference without cholesterol drugs. I love simple solutions!!

  6. kathy b says:

    Channon, GOOD for you and your upcoming efforts. I have to say Im a huge believer in Statins for heart disease prevention …..
    diet and workouts are also KEY.
    It drives me crazy to see all the old old folks at Costco ordering greasy pizza and huge hot dogs.
    Genetics are tough to change, but cardiac health and prevention have come a long long way since WW II . If you have to pick a disease I’d pick heart disease any and every day.
    The progress is indisputable.
    GOOD Luck.

  7. Kathy says:

    Have you considered grilling fish (outside I mean)? That will keep the smell out of the house. I don’t find cooking fish to be smelly but warming up cooked fish certainly is.

    As others have mentioned, you could have the healthiest diet and still have cholesterol due to genetics.

    Good luck!

  8. I’m sorry, Channon, I don’t have much to offer. Grilling fish outside sounds like a GREAT idea. I will do some research and see what I can find. Perhaps herbs?

    Thanks for sharing, Channon…

  9. Jessica says:

    I lowered mine by switching to oatmeal for breakfast, and virtually no eating out. I ate salads with tuna, and a olive oil/balsamic vinaigrette. no alcohol, but then you barely drink anyways. I don’t limit eggs though. saturated fat is the issue. Or at least it is this week. And I drink 2% milk, simply because I do not drink much milk as it is, and I like to limit the processed food, so see no benefit in skim milk.
    Also, I read a few scientific journal articles on krill oil (did a research paper on Antarctic krill last year), and the results are very promising if you are looking to lower cholesterol. I take fish oil, (I have switched to krill), and chewable fiber, even though I get a lot of fiber in all my fruits and veg. It worked. I lowered my cholesterol by 18 points

  10. Loved what Jessica had to say….hang in there, you will surely find what works bests for you.

  11. AlisonH says:

    Oatmeal to lower the cholesterol and quinoa is the only plant-based source of complete protein. Thankfully there are pre-prepared varieties on the market now that get the outer whatever off that tastes somehow soapy.

  12. Nichole says:

    Oh, I LOVE ground turkey! The key is mix ins or toppings. We actually just did some last week with pepper, onion and tomato sauce (canned tomato sauce – not pasta sauce) and seasonings. Delish!

  13. Mr. Puffy says:

    I was curious so scrolled down to this post Chan. I also have high-ish cholesterol and control it through diet. My one main source of cholesterol is my afternoon tea treat but if I limit cholesterol to that pretty much I’m doing okay. I have incorporated tofu into our diet once a week and we eat a lot of whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and I almost always substitute olive oil for butter on things like potatoes, corn on the cob, etc. Things that you can enjoy are lots of nuts, fruits, dark chocolate, bread (if you’ve made it and it doesn’t have butter in it – such a sourdough), etc. It is a mindset but over time your tastes will change. As an aside I was shocked to learn I have high cholesterol as I rarely eat eggs, bacon, etc. and my sister eats that stuff all the time and doesn’t have a cholesterol problem.

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