I’m pretty diligent when it comes to Dr. visits. If something is due, I just go in. Then it’s done!
But there were a series of tests I put off for years. High cholesterol runs in my family so I had suggested to be tested for this a number of years ago… that I never did do. Reason? I was to fast prior. I just could not fathom going into town without my AM coffee! Sad but true. Coffeeaholics unite…
During that visit, I was tested for high cholesterol and a bunch of other weird stuff, and was promised a call IF anything was amiss.
Well… guess what.
I got ‘the call’. Gulp.
I was to report back to the Dr’s office to get all the results. She said it wasn’t a panic but to eat well. Hmmm…. that would mean high cholesterol indeed… but I had no idea how bad. Great.
The first thing I did was put out a request for high cholesterol advice on my Facebook profile page, because I needed helpful advice on what worked for others NOW, not in a week from now after talking to the Dr. I was eventually gifted with over 130 comments! I quickly did some online search based on the references, chose the ones that seemed to fit well for me and went grocery shopping. While my basic eating really wasn’t that bad, I did cheat at night on junk, so that was put to a halt immediately.
I tried a few of the new groceries, but havoc started to wreak with my sensitive stomach. I just felt crappy. Could have been detox from bad foods, but more-so, I haven’t dealt well with grain intake since taking a long round of antibiotics a couple years back, so my stomach was beginning to get very unhappy with me. I was obviously going overboard on something without enough knowledge.
But I’m glad I did some homework. Because once I was in the Dr’s office, I immediately knew what she was talking about. All these fancy medical terms and what even FODMAP foods meant. So armed with paper and pen, I asked and asked and asked until she SENT me on my way. 😉
Results and Recommendations
Medication was NOT suggested for me. YES YES YESSSS!
I’m still unsure if I would have taken any or not, but I was going to try without if possible. Glad I didn’t have to go down that scary route.
My (Canadian) cholesterol numbers were:
9.45 total (was told 5.7 is ideal)
7.41 LDL (bad! – should be 2 or under)
1.61 HDL (good! – should stay over 1.2)
Now this is cool! I was also given an online link for a Risk Calculator where once you enter your info, it gives you risk factors within a 10 year timeframe. You will need to know your cholesterol numbers, blood pressure and a few other things before using it…
My risk factor as-is was at 11.7% of something major happening within 10 years. If it’s a hereditary issue, your % goes up, which was the case with me.
She also recommended following a Mediterranean diet and to shy away from FODMAP friendly foods, and moderate exercise. And to get retested for high cholesterol in another 3 months to check the new and hopefully improved numbers.
So here’s a little more on what all those fancy terms and diet even mean…
A Mediterranean diet
A Mediterranean diet is a healthy longterm lifestyle eating style based on:
- daily consumption of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and healthy fat
- weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans and eggs
- Moderate portions of dairy products
What is not allowed:
- limited red meat
- refined grains
- unhealthy carbs
- unhealthy processed food
- deep fried food
I was relieved that it didn’t sound too restrictive! I’m not currently a vegetarian however I’d like to incorporate more plant foods into my diet, so a combo of both sounded do-able.
Many of their suggestions would give me issues though, so I’ll be substituting some things for…
Avoiding FODMAP foods
FODMAP foods are basically anything you eat that makes you bloat. Certain foods like broccoli for example.
This is a real thing. If you are gluten-sensitive or just have a fussy stomach, I encourage you to search what this is pronto if you don’t yet know. I’ve linked to a really good book on this below.
Some of the recommended FODMAP-safe foods are not good for high cholesterol though, so I’ll be referring to some leaner substitutes.
This is where it pays to fully investigate your needs, and custom-create a plan that works best for you.
Exercising daily for at least 30 minutes was also recommended. I bike in good weather but honestly don’t in bad, so I’ll have to come up with a plan. I suppose I won’t melt if I walk in the rain, right?!
Moving decreases stress AND keeps your body functions moving in the right direction so sitting around is not an option. Movement of some kind is a MUST.
Honestly? While no one wants to hear something is wrong, this news was SUCH a kick in a direction, period! You know when something is off but you have no idea why? This offered a road map that I was capable of following.
I may go to a natural path at some point if I can’t get it right on my own, however I first needed more education, so a stop at a bookstore was next.
Several cook books were recommended as being total winners where high cholesterol came into play. I basically sat on the book store floor and leafed through many of them.
Here’s what I ended up bringing home and why…
This book came VERY highly recommended by friends. It’s a recipe book on a healthy, whole-foods, plant-based way of eating. Fruits, veggies, whole grains, tubers and legumes are the foundation.
After leafing through it, it immediately felt a little over my head. Most everything suggested is homemade, so a recipe may call for several other homemade things you’ve yet to make!
However the recipes sounded easy and positively delicious. The book was quite frankly recommended too many times not to try it. And it helps you with bulk shopping lists so you have what you need on hand.
This was my find and I’m over the MOON about it!
The No Bloat Diet cookbook is based on selecting foods that don’t cause bloating issues, called high FODMAP foods. My own issue came about from being on antibiotics for too long of a period, and I’ve had gluten and bloating issues ever since.
I found the good vs. bad food lists super helpful and other beginner education so you can even understand what this all means. They also explain how to choose a proper probiotic for your needs, which was super cool.
Most recipes pictures as well as intake amounts (carbs, etc) which I find helpful.
This is an exceptional book, for information alone. I’ve dropped some problematic food it listed and have noticed positive results already. I’ve yet to try the recipes though.
If you love pretty recipe books, this is the one. PLUS.
The Vegan Reset cookbook is a plant-based recipe book with gorgeous pictures beside very recipe. I am a visual learner so this ranked very high for me.
But what was even cooler was how the book laid out full day meals vs just single meals. Feeling lazy or overwhelmed? Open one page, and do THAT. THE END. I loved that!
Plus, I mean, those photos… this is probably the most gorgeous recipe book I’ve ever laid eyes on. I will have no issue being a vegetarian with this one!
So! I appear to have a new healthy-foodie hobby that I didn’t intend to have. Food preparation has not been a passion of mine for some time, but perhaps through new recipes and finding more food I CAN eat, that may be reactivated.
All I know is, changing my diet is totally do-able. And while some of my favourite things are off the food map at least for a spell, it doesn’t mean I have to be deprived. It just needs to be different. There are so many good replacements out there and it’s flat out up to us to stock it so we grab that instead.
As an empty-nester, I have the time to make this journey everything it ought to be. So now it’s my turn.
It feels so different putting me first. But I suppose that is the gift we are given later in life.
Right when we appear to need it too, huh?
Do you have any tips on lowering cholesterol? I’d love to hear what works for you!
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And some of my favorite recipes HERE