A couple of weeks before turning age 40, I decided it was time to get another physical. It had been a couple of years and I wanted to make sure my health was still in order. I was still doing a lot of the changes I made before (outlined in my previous post) with the exception that I had allowed processed sugars to creep back into my diet. My 5 year-old daughter is a sweetened cereal fan and that caused me to start eating nightly bowls of Fruity Pebbles. Or breaking into my wife's Frosted Mini-Wheats. Even sweetened cereals are very nutritious, but the explosion of sugar they provide is not tolerated well by everyone.
Those that can't handle it, of course, are those that are diabetic or those that have high triglycerides. People that tend to be overweight also do not do well with that much sugar from one meal. So needless to say, between that a few other bad habits, my weight had crept back up to 175 lbs.
A word on my diet. I have alluded to the fact that I eat a good variety of things. I like just about everything there is to eat. Two exceptions are brussel sprouts and cantaloupe. It isn't that I won't eat them, it is just that I prefer not to eat them. But I am a human garbage disposal. At restaurants if there are items that my wife and daughter can't eat or don't want, I will eat them. I am always finishing meals for them when they become full. All of these factors (liking everything, eating the rest of their food or items they don't want) add up to the fact that I can consume large amounts of calories quickly. That is why I try to avoid sweets. Empty calories for a big, omnivorous eater can pack on pounds.
The upside is that my nutrition is good. I get vitamins and minerals from all sorts of different sources. I consume skim milk at the rate of about a gallon anda half per week. I love spinach, peas, tomatoes, every kind of bean, and all kinds of meat and fish. I love whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. There is, like I said, nothing I won't eat.
The downside is that with that nutrition comes a lot of sugar, fat and cholesterol. So while my nutrition is great, my caloric, fat, sugar and cholesterol intake is not. I love fried foods. I love starchy sugars. I love to take things like baked potatoes and load them with bacon, cheese, and sour cream. I am a flavor addict, so cramming as many flavors into a food item is something I enjoy.
I say all this to point out that nutritious eating and healthy eating are two different animals. I will tackle that topic in later posts, but if I didn't limit my white flour and processed sugar consumption, I could easily explode in weight.
Back to the story: My blood work came back and my triglycerides were elevated, and my HDL count low. Again. Despite many of the changes I'd made before. This new doctor put me on Niacin (a B vitamin that reduces cholesterol) and told me to follow the Mediterranean diet. I was glad he didn't go for drugs like the last doctor had tried. The Mediterranean diet means more fish, chicken and turkey, less beef. Lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and good fats like olive oil. Less sugar and processed flours.
So I have gone back to a stricter diet. I have dropped several pounds (down to about 168 now) in a month's time. Here are the big changes I've made:
-No more sweetened cereal, my nightly snack is now a bowl of Grape Nuts (w/ skim milk) sprinkled with dried cherries, cranberries, and/or blueberries
-No white pasta, back to whole grain pasta always
-More fish and chicken, less beef. (We eat nothing but venison for red meat in our house anyway)
-Pretzels and almonds or other nuts for snacks, instead of tortilla chips
-Even more vegetables and fruits than before
-A glass of V8 and a glass of concord grape juice everyday
-In addition to my daily vitamin, added the prescribed Niacin and a 1000mg fish oil tablet
-Increased my olive oil consumption
The biggest difference between my blood work this time from 2006 when it was last checked is my age. My triglycerides are a hereditary condition. While the changes I instituted in 2005 worked then, I needed more changes since I am older now. We don't live in a vacuum, our conditions are not static. Now that I am 40 I have to be more diligent to maintain my health.
And that is where this blog comes in! I want to not only share my gathered knowledge of healthy eating and nutrition, but learn even more as I research the articles I write, and hopefully receive comments from others that have such knowledge.
Also, feel free to post your own story in the comments. I would love to hear how you came to a desire to live and eat healthy.