In the late 80′s my father had a heart attack. It was his second attack. The first was when we were in elementary school, two or three years prior. His first heart attack came after a week or so of angina attacks so he went to the hospital and there he was told he was having a heart attack. The difference with the second attack was that my sister and I were home alone with him. It was pretty scary, traumatic even and since we were older and the doctors thought it was time that we were involved in his recovery. This decision was, most likely, made to make us feel a bit more empowered, in control, after what we had witnessed. It probably worked to make us feel more in control.
As part of this empowerment plan we went and took CPR classes and learned all about heart disease through the local American Heart Association program. We also went to the hospital and met with a nutritionist. We learned all about how to eat healthy and how to help pay attention to something called cholesterol and ingredients in food and what our father was and wasn’t allowed to eat. The nutritionists recommendations were
- no red meat
- to eat foods labeled heart healthy, low fat and low cholesterol
- to use margarine instead of butter
- use corn oil or sunflower oil – never bacon fat or coconut oil
- avoid foods that are high in cholesterol including coconuts and avocado
- eat more pastas and whole grain
- a low fat, high carb diet is best for losing weight
- absolutely no eggs
Fast forward to this summer and a couple of conversations with my family made me realize that we, as a family, hadn’t really gotten over that conversation with the nutritionist. The conversations including comments like “how can you drink coconut water? Isn’t it high in cholesterol?” “I made your birthday cake healthy for you! I used a low-fat cake mix and margarine.” “I’m really working on my diet, I had a lean cuisine for lunch”, and “oh, aren’t you supposed to be eating healthier? Isn’t guacamole bad for you because of the high cholesterol?”
The nutrition lies we believed to be true in the late 80s through today helped lead my family and a lot of other Americans to rapid weight gain. This is one of the best articles I’ve read on the subject. http://www.businessinsider.com/13-nutrition-lies-that-made-the-world-sick-and-fat-2013-10?op=1
I’m not going to blame my weight gain on it, there is a whole lot I’ve done wrong, but re-teaching myself how to eat and breaking these old ideas has been one of the hardest part of this journey. Until recently I tried to stay clear of eggs, coconut oil, and we always had margarine, pasta and processed foods with claims like “heart healthy, low-fat, low cholesterol” in our house. Now I know that a diet of whole foods, full of fruits and vegetables, organic meats and fish is what is best for us. Our grains are limited to things like rice, quinoa and the occasional pasta. I’m learning to cook eggs for the first time in my life. I truly think I have an avocado allergy, but I’ve given it the old college try. I know now that any diet isn’t really the ‘best diet’ for anyone – the best ‘diet’ for everyone is one of real food, quality food, not processed crap.
What were you told about health or fitness years ago that you know better about now?