Lifestyle changes can make a major difference
The response from the news that I lowered my cholesterol numbers by changing my lifestyle has been overwhelming. In 2011, my total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol were high enough to cause my physician to prescribe a statin drug for me.
In previous years as my blood levels were inching up toward dangerous levels, I kept telling my doctor that I would make a few changes but never did. It wasn’t until he pulled out his prescription pad that I resolved to follow my own advise.
For years I have been following a low fat, low sodium meal plan. Fried foods pass my lips at the most, once a month when I enjoy a fried fish sandwich. Butter is reserved for baking cookies but otherwise, I use a soy-based margarine.
Olive oil is my oil of choice for marinating and salads. Canola oil pan fries pancakes and meat before roasting. A quick spray of vegetable oil coats the pan for all other cooking. Salt is used sparingly in cooking; never at the table.
Oatmeal with raisins is my breakfast mainstay. Barley and okra have found their way into my soups and stews. Increasing the fiber in my meal plan is a top priority.
There is a high fiber bread on the market. It not only helps to clean out my gastrointestinal tract but it also helps to keep my arteries cholesterol free. Increasing fiber at meals causes the food to move slower through the intestines and causes a feeling of fullness to last longer. The impulse to continue to eat when satisfied is reduced causing fewer calories to be consumed.
Nuts have caused a big difference in my cholesterol values from year to year. When I bragged that I have been consuming at least 1 ounce of walnuts daily for the past 12 months friend of mine announced that she has done the same thing with almonds. Her cholesterol numbers are lower as well.
Not all nuts offer equal benefits to walnuts and almonds. Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and cashews have been cut from the health claims of other nuts because of their high fat content but in moderation, even these nuts may have some of the same benefits. The American Heart Association recommends at least four servings of nuts a week.
Another close friend of mine reminded me that eating walnuts and oatmeal was not the only reason for lowering my risk of heart disease. In the past 12 months, I have increased the amount of exercise that I perform weekly.
More walks; more fidgeting; more bending and stretching; more upper body movements during television commercials; more steps at work and home; and more deep knee bends with my doggies have helped to reduce threat of a cardiac incident.
Physical movement is underrated when it comes to overall health. So is stress reduction. A weekly bible study reminds me to stop worrying and not to be afraid.
In 2011, my cholesterol values were dangerously elevated. Through lifestyle changes I have been able to eat, move and pray my way to a healthier me in 2012.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator and a registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at email@example.com or 330–684-4776.