Eating and Living Healthier This Year
In elementary school, the teachers covered health and nutrition and drilled in the idea: "You are what you eat." All the kids thought the idea was very funny. "Hey, Judy is a hot dog." All these years later, the message is still in my head, and I still smile when I think about being a Bisquick Sausage Ball or Meat Loaf in the Electric Skillet.
I was not, however, smiling when I got a call from my doctor. I'd been in for a routine check up. Those always go fine. Not this time though. My cholesterol was high, and my triglycerides were horrible ultra high. If I didn't want to have a heart attack or stroke, I'd have to make some big changes explained my doctor.
When dealing with problems, I typically research and read. I found that the high triglycerides could indicate diabetes. That meant I needed to deal with sugar as well as fat. Oh no. I was pretty certain I was destined to starve. I'd bought lots of fruit juice and yogurt thinking those would be good, healthy choices. Not a super idea.
Trying to rethink the way I deal with food was difficult. It seemed like everything I loved was bad for me in some way.
After several days of eating broccoli, I began to look around and come up with new ideas. I ordered some healthy cookbooks and also invested in some kitchen tools.
Although I had a stove top steamer, I bought the Oster two-tier steamer. I can cook rice and vegetables or steam chicken and have vegetables and/or rice. It's easier and more fun to have an electric steamer. I even bought one for my sister. We exchange recipes and ideas.
I also bought a good broiler pan. The ones that come with the stove are too big and are not deep enough. They are a mess to clean too. It's hard to get excited about broiling when you don't have a good broiler pan.
After years of ignoring the George Foreman indoor grill, I put that on my Christmas list. Clean up is a bit messy, but the grilled chicken sandwiches are wonderful.
Both the Hamilton Beach personal blender and Muffin Magic have been getting work outs. Those were kitchen toys I bought for the boys. I looked up healthy smoothie and muffin recipes and began using the toys more myself.
My doctor told me not to eat fast food. Oh dear. Although I usually cook at home, I do enjoy going out from time to time. What to Eat When You're Eating Out was a helpful guide. I've found that I enjoy grilled shrimp with rice (hold the cheese) at our local Mexican restaurant and the grilled chicken sandwich (minus the bun) at the steakhouse at the mall.
Another thing I had to deal with was sodas. I love Pepsi. I needed to find a replacement. I decided to go with herbal teas. No reason to change one bad habit for another, so I didn't look at teas or coffee with caffeine. Flavors differ a lot from brand to brand. My favorites are Choice, Celestial Seasonings and Twinings. I like the green teas and especially like the fruit flavored herbals.
My overall approach was to cut way down on meats and increase my vegetables and fruits. I'm eating mostly fish and chicken and think of the vegetables as the main course and the meats as treats. I shifted from white bread to whole wheat and from white rice to brown or whole wheat. For snacking, I eat raw vegetables, low fat popcorn, baked chips, low fat dips and nutritious muffins.
Fortunately one of my cooking specialty areas is grilling. That's healthy cooking, but I've shifted from steaks and burgers to chicken and fish as well as adding more grilled vegetables.
Last week I went back for another blood test. I was nervous. I wasn't sure if I made the right choices. I knew that I'd cheated a few times. I even forgot about the fasting part on the test and popped an Altoid mint in my mouth and ate that right before the blood test.
The changes made a hugh difference. My cholesterol levels are now at the high end of normal. I cut my triglyceride levels more than in half from over 525 to 229. My sugar was only a few points above normal, and my doctor said the Altoid mint probably ran that up a bit.
Since I'm Southern and a food/cooking writer and since these changes were over the holidays, the doctor was amazed. He said that he had anticipated that I'd need medication to control the levels, but I'm fine as long as I continue to eat well. I want to be medication free, and I want to enjoy treats now and then, so I'll watch my diet day to day as I've been doing. Then I can have Chicken and Dumplings or cornbread every once in a while.
My blood tests certainly confirmed that I am, indeed, what I eat. All those fried foods, cookies, cakes, pies and sodas caught up with me. I wasn't keen on giving up my favorite foods, but I sure didn't want to end up in a wheelchair and drooling all over myself. I made some big changes, and those changes made a big difference. I eat right most days now and savor a Pepsi or a small serving of steak or a bite of baklava.
I'm finding new, healthy recipes and tasty good-for-me products. I'll be sharing some of my favorite healthy dishes and healthy products over the coming months. I'll also let you know what's awful. Some of the healthy recipes and products flat aren't fit to eat.