The Food Basics

Following my heart attack, three doctors told me that I needed a cholesterol reducing medication (i.e. Zocor, Lipitor, Crestor, etc.) and would need to be on it for the rest of my life.

I was not happy.  Reading Esselstyn’s book (see previous post), I was convinced that I could do it without the meds.  I was already on Plavix and aspirin and thyroid medication.  I did not want to add another if I could find success with food and exercise.

I learned some things right quick:

1. If you have a cholesterol problem, don’t injest it on purpose!!!

Animal products contain cholesterol, so I decided to cut it out of my diet.  That means eating a vegan diet.

2. There’s good fat and bad fat.  The bad fat lends to your own cholesterol production.  The good fat is good for your cholesterol!

Esselstyn’s book promotes a no fat diet –no oils, nuts, etc.– for people who have serious heart disease.  I started out that way, but slowly worked olive oil, nuts, and Earth Balance margarine back in and it’s been great for me.  For serious cholesterol problems, I would suggest jumping right into the Esselstyn plan and getting tested 2-3 months in to see how you’re doing.  You’ll find some needed positive reinforcement.

3.  Omega 3s are easy

Seriously, 2 Tbsp of ground flaxseed in your oatmeal or smoothie will take care of your daily nutritional needs. (My next blog will help you get your pantry and fridge ready.)

4. Nothing wrong with a little drinky-poo.

Even the strictest of the strict, Esselstyn, encourages that you enjoy a drink.  It’s been well documented that red wine is a great choice.  Some even recommend that you have a drink a day.  This is where moderation matters.

5. Choose brown foods.

If you’re going to eat, make it matter.  It is only on the rarest of occasions that I eat white flour or rice.  Brown, brown, brown–pizza crust (recipe to come), rice, breads….

6. Cook your own food.  Pre-packaged foods are loaded with stuff you don’t need or want.

There are quick, easy meals that you can make with a decently stocked pantry.  Recipes to come!  The ONLY exception that I’ll make to this is a Kashi pizza.  As a matter of fact, none of us were even on our way home until 6:30 last night, so one of those in the oven (the vegan version) and a pot of whole grain pasta tossed with broccoli rabe and garlic made an awesome dinner.

7. Be sure that you’re not lacking any nutrients.

Have a comprehensive blood panel and iron test to make sure you’re well -balanced.  Women, especially, can struggle with iron, so being aware of your nutritional needs and being sure to add foods (or sometimes supplements) that lend to a good balance is important.

8.  Dairy alternatives are great.

I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk in my coffee, I cook with  soy or almond milk, drink chocolate soy milk like crazy.  I miss nothing these have no cholesterol.

In Summary, if this seems like a lot to think about, I understand.  As the days go by, though, your new buying and eating habits will become just as NORMAL as your previous ones.

My next post will help you shop to make the transition as easy as possible.  We’ll do it in steps…  Beginner, Getting the Hang of It, and All In.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Currey on January 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I think you and I should definitely plan a get together – We could talk about so much! You’re doing absolutely the right thing and I am absurdly proud of you. Can’t wait to read more.


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