So a few weeks back, life gave me lemons, and it sucked. I went for blood tests for one thing and they came back not solving the original problem, but telling me I also have high cholesterol.
The Health Trainer
So I duly made an appointment to go and see a ‘health trainer’. I went in apprehensive, defensive even, at the thought of someone who wasn’t even a doctor telling me what to do.
My first appointment wasn’t too bad- a look at what I eat (which is ok as it turns out, bar the office crap food binges!) and what exercise I do. There was a bit too much pointing at things in a book and reading them out loud (you’re not a primary school teacher and I’m not a complete duffin- just tell me) but other than that it was pretty inoffensive. So I was happy to make a second appointment to talk specifically about food.
Now on the surface, we eat pretty well. No ready meals, very little processed meat (mainly on sarnies for packed lunches), and not too much red meat. I drink ridiculously little alcohol these days and have never drunk coffee or tea. But on the other hand I bake pretty regularly so there is often cake or biscuits in the house and I can easily turn to chocolate as a way of getting through the working day.
I actually thought it was a good thing to be reminded about portion sizes (a small matchbox size for cheese, a deck of cards size for meaty protein) and what % of your food should be veg, carb, protein, dairy etc. The Eat Well Plate shows you what should be going in your tum every day:
- 5 portions of fruit or veg (33% of your total food)
- Up to 7 portions of starchy food (33%)
- 2 portions of milk or dairy products (15%)
- Protein (12%)
- Fats (8%)
She also gave me this book which explains all about portions. So for example FOUR Ryvita constitutes one portion of starchy food, and a slice of Soreen is classed as a starchy food and so is a great way to get a sweet hit! It really is a good read and I will be using the portion info to help plan meals and make choices.
Eggs, prawns and the red meat question
So apparently eggs and prawns are no longer considered cholesterol killers. Phew! They contain cholesterol but tests have shown that eating cholesterol doesn’t raise your own levels.
Red meat, in moderation, is fine. We eat far more white meat and fish than red, but glad to hear I can still indulge in a steak once in a while.
Avocados- great for cholesterol, but full of calories. So. Confusing. Arg!
Butter – 1 scant tsp for spreading is classed as one portion of dairy, but if you have those margarine spreads which lower your cholesterol you can have 2 tsp. To be honest, I would rather have butter, but less of it. I’m not a marg fan and if it came down to it, I would rather do without. I don’t spread very often so I will see it as a weekend treat.
And that’s the crux of it really. I was grating parmesan tonight and used one portion to go between three people – and there was still some left over. You don’t have to deprive yourself of food, just look at it differently.
I won’t be giving up cake club anytime soon – I love the people there too much. But I will cut smaller slices and say no to the takeaway trough at the end. And I am certainly not giving up my ticket to the International Cheese Awards later this month – I will just give up dairy for the rest of the week if I must!
It has certainly been food for thought for me and I have already started to make small changes to my diet. The main thing for me is that I have to get my arse in to gear and move more. I am going to wear a pedometer for a few days so I can see if I am as lazy as I fear! Little lunchtime walks are much easier when you work in a country park and have colleagues who enjoy a ten minute natter!
So this cholesterol lark came as a nasty surprise but hopefully in the end it will be for the best.
I am keen to read more cholesterol busting recipes and blogs so if you have any to share, or any tips, please leave them below.