The Heart of The Matter

25 Nov

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.

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?

5 Responses to “The Heart of The Matter”

  1. Becky November 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    The low sodium thing meant my mother never cooked with salt – which means I have no taste for it. I often forget to cook with it, until recently, when I realized some of the issues I was having were because I had unhealthy levels of low sodium. I now keep a small dish by the stove and sprinkle salt in as I go. When I think a dish tastes salty, that often means others find it just right. I’m learning…..

  2. Nancy Logan November 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Aimee, so smart and we believe too much of what Dr’s and Nutritionists tell us. Everyones body metabolism is different so y ou have to first eat in moderation, watch salt intake, don’t eat things that are engineered, means a lot of items that are not meant to be eaten, such as palm oils, and all items that are added, take the time and whip up real cream and eliminate Cool Whip, use sugar free items in cooking, no aspartame or splenda, a little bit of sugar is better than these products. Use common sense inpreparing and eating food, eat slower, let brain tell you enough, and that takes time, use smaller plates, smaller portions. Use fresh, when not available use frozen, better than produce that has sat in markets for a week and lost all nutrients, frozen is handled when fresh. I have been using egg whites and dollop salsa on top ather than all cheese and other ingrd. good and yesterday prepared scrambled for 5 and used 3 eggs and added egg whites and skim milk. Worked just fine… Good prep with meals, love you……Aunt Nancy

    • kimberlyjob November 26, 2013 at 5:20 am #

      It’s so interesting how “healthy” food fads change over time. Something about clean eating like you talked about just resonates with me as true. I no longer feel like I’m chasing after the latest scientific advice.

  3. Patience November 26, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    My parents were obsessed with not allowing my siblings and me get fat. I don’t think we sat down to a single meal without mention of foods that will make you fat. My mom was really strict about our salt intake, and we had to use a vile product called lo-salt, that I think substitutes potassium for sodium–and too much potassium can kill you! Luckily, it tastes so bad, we didn’t eat much of it. We were only allowed butter on Sundays and no snacks between meals. My mom only bought no-sugar breakfast cereal and she insisted on making our peanut butter herself so that we wouldn’t get the added sugar or the hydrogenated oils. We never, ever had chips or pretzels or snack foods. All that restriction just made us crave the junk food that we saw our friends eating.

  4. Jen December 3, 2013 at 3:22 am #

    The low-fat craze of the 1980s was one that I had to re-learn.

    Here in my house, we skew toward a Mediterranean diet — lots of vegetables, healthy grains, moderate meats and cheese, foods in season, etc. We’ve gotten more adventurous with vegetables in recent years; my family now loves cauliflower, even my picky eaters.

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