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What Lies Behind —

August 23, 2011
by


Trigger Warning: I discuss low-fat, low-cholesterol diets and metabolic health in this post.

Of the many formative memories from my youth, one somber day stands apart.

Although I had experienced the devastating impact of a family death at age eight when my Grandpa Ray died of colon cancer, I personally felt little affect due to the fact that he was an old man in his 60s with false teeth and thinning hair, and that his illness progressed gradually toward a predictable end.

Old people got sick and died. That’s what happens.

A year later when my Uncle Ray died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 46, my reaction to death changed dramatically.

My Uncle Ray was in great shape. A lifelong fitness addict, he lifted weights and worked out frequently. He encouraged a similar lifestyle for his children, two of whom became State Champion wrestlers.

Occasionally, I would spend the night at Uncle Ray and Aunt Linda’s, including the week before his death. I recall doing something to trigger Uncle Ray’s temper and getting yelled at.

After his death, I would overhear snippets of adult conversations and eventually pick up enough pieces to figure out that although Uncle Ray was in great physical shape, he felt incredibly stressed at the time of his death, and that his temper did him no favors in terms of heart health.

Part of me felt responsible for invoking his wrath, while the rest of me felt shaken to the core by the randomness of death. Suddenly overcome with fear, I cried out to my parents one night in desperate need of reassurance that they weren’t next.

Childhood confusion mixed and muddied the messages and feelings I assembled from these heartbreaking days, and shifted my attitude substantially surrounding health.

Upon learning that heart disease ran in our family, I immediately felt indifference toward self-care when confronted by the futility of my uncle’s fanatical fitness. It seemed to me that stress, rather than self-care, was the real culprit in his early death, and that I would be better served by learning to control my temper than to eat veggies and work out every day.

But above all else, I felt as though my own death had already been determined by a genetic lottery, and that, as my uncle discovered to late, there was little I could do to prevent the inevitable march toward heart disease.

Armed with this confused sense of predestination, I stopped worrying about my health almost entirely. As a teenager, I would gradually wonder as to the wisdom of largely ignoring my health, and I understood that my dietary choices might take its toll sooner, rather than later. Maybe my uncle died of a genetic predisposition to heart disease, but how soon would he have died if he wasn’t a fitness buff?

But the fix was in, and I had chosen the route of greasiest resistance.

My poison? Meat, cheese, and butter, which, in and of itself, aren’t terrible foods.

But with my family history, it was only a matter of time before it caught up with me.

As you may have gleaned by now, Ragen’s post yesterday was based on a comment I made on Facebook.

I have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

I’m the one doubting the role of Health at Every Size® in my life.

I’m the one wondering whether I’ve been a failure at improving my health.

I’m the one fearing public reprisal for my failure to be one of the legendary “good fatties” who walks the walk and talks the talk of HAES.

But I was afraid. Deeply afraid.

Here I am, promoting Health at Every Size as the best path to health for people of all sizes, going so far as to adopt the HAES lifestyle myself, and I’ve got high cholesterol. Not only does this allow critics an opportunity to criticize the effectiveness of HAES, but it gives trolls even more fodder to attack Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size.

In short, I felt like one of the most vocal “bad fatties” on the market and did not want to damage either my reputation personally or the movement’s reputation in general.

Then I read Pattie Thomas’ post on her experience with diabetes, which was also in support of  my private Facebook admission.

So, I have decided to face this situation head-on.

Yes, I have high cholesterol. Yes, I practice HAES. Yes, I promote Fat Acceptance. And yes, I do not see the latter two as contributing the the former in the least.

Why?

Well, I had only began my HAES journey in February 2010, when I followed Dr. Linda Bacon’s recommendation to incorporate healthy foods I had previously avoided. Beginning with blueberries, I began to challenge my taste buds to experience something other than meat, cheese and butter, and it worked.

I have since expanded the concept of “palatable” to include more fruits and vegetables than I have ever eaten before.

Likewise, Dr. Bacon’s book challenged me to think differently about exercise. Rather than a series of rote movement for the sole purpose of burning calories, I now see exercise as the best way to keep my body running at optimal capacity.

Last September, I finally determined that cycling would be an exercise I could pursue for the love of movement, rather than the penance of fatness. Within a month, I abandoned the cycle in favor of the elliptical and found greater satisfaction and enjoyment, which has translated into a year of regular exercise.

Finally, encouraged by HAES proponents who emphasize the importance of finding a doctor to help you navigate the tricky waters of health, I finally made my first adult appointment for a primary care physician. I hadn’t been to a doctor in years, let alone established an ongoing relationship with one to help safeguard my health. I never would have done this without the encouragement I found in the baby steps approach to Health at Every Size.

For these reasons alone, Health at Every Size should be commended with discovering, rather than blamed for causing, my high cholesterol.

Prior to learning about HAES, I saw health as an all-or-nothing proposition: either you lived the life of a food-and-exercise-obsessed health fanatic, or else you actually enjoyed life and risked a few missing years.

HAES taught me that health is anything but all-or-nothing. Health is like a bag full of building blocks, and each unhealthy behavior block you swap out for a healthy behavior block brings closer to building good health.

I’ve spent the past year actively swapping out blocks, and although last week I learned that I wasn’t swapping them out fast enough, I am by no means giving up the HAES approach.

Part of me feared that because the steps I had taken didn’t result in a stellar metabolic profile, then I most have done something wrong, or that HAES was inadequate.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact that I was doing something, rather than nothing, may have improved my cholesterol from even worse numbers a year ago, although there’s no way of knowing for sure. But the fact is, thanks to HAES, I am now living healthier than I ever have in my life.

The only difference now is that my metabolic profile indicates that I’m going to have a swap out a whole bunch of blocks a whole lot faster than I had planned.

I’m not at all surprised. In fact, the reason I was kicked off the Fatosphere was that I had publicly speculated as to physical effects of a heart-healthy diet. At the time, I wrote:

Now, the part I’m worried will piss people off is the fact that I say that if I, personally, changed my diet and exercise habits, that I think I could lose “a lot of weight.”

This may come as a shock because I am so aware of the failure rate of dieting. But a few stipulations that weren’t in the interview: first, if I was to change my diet and exercise habits it would be out of fear of my heart health more than anything.

As previously stated, I have a strong history of heart disease and my current lifestyle is probably exacerbating that. I don’t think my weight is a factor for heart disease, but I think that my lifestyle is a factor for my weight. So, I still believe that if I had the time and motivation, I could change my lifestyle and, I believe, I would lose weight.

Would I get thin? I don’t think so. But I’d be closer to 200 than 300. That’s just my personal opinion.

Well, the time has come to put that controversial claim to the test. Of course, I don’t feel exactly the same. As I follow a low-fat/low-cholesterol diet, I am now willing to wager that I will lose between 5-10% of my current weight, which would be between 14 and 28 pounds.

Let me be absolutely clear, though: I am not undertaking this low-fat, low-cholesterol diet to lose weight or because I believe that losing weight will help me get my cholesterol under control.

The diet itself is the tool I will be using the lower my cholesterol, but based on the overwhelming research on sustainable weight loss, I believe that changing my diet will cause a 5-10% weight loss.

Whether I actually lose 5-10% of my weight does not matter to me, which is why the changes I will make are still aligned perfectly with the Health at Every Size approach.

Multiple experts on HAES have reassured me of this, including Dr. Bacon herself, who told me, “[HAES] absolutely supports people in making choices congruent with specific health needs, and developing strategies to make that happen.”

And so it is with a wistful eye on the half-package of Swiss Lorraine in the fridge and dreams of forsaken steaks that I undertake this new chapter in my HAES journey.

In order to pursue health further, I must make some rather drastic changes in my life, which I am not entirely confident I am capable of making. However, I feel as though I must make an effort to control my cholesterol through diet and exercise before I decide to rely on pharmacotherapy to resolve this issue.

I’m not sure how this will all end up, but I have nothing but gratefulness in my heart for Health at Every Size, which has taught me to value my health. Without HAES, I might be careening headlong toward my uncle’s fate, making me solely responsible for the self-fulfilling prophecy that his death inspired.

Now, with the current understanding I find in HAES, I am at least willing and able to fight for my life and my health.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. Kala permalink
    August 23, 2011 2:04 pm

    I face the really real threat of having uncontrollably high cholesterol or triglycerides, if I’ve inherited a problem that my mother has. Even with medication, her numbers can sit at literally inhuman rates. These are numbers so high they can’t be explained by purely diet and exercise. It’s kind of a scary idea, but that’s just the way the cookie might wind up crumbling. There certainly is a genetic lottery, and you sometimes win and sometimes loose, but regardless of the unchangeable hand you were dealt, never forget that your health is worth it. I personally know some people, that take a potential loss of standard of living, or decrease in lifespan, as a reason to give up entirely. But if you have potential to die at 50 by means beyond your control, why would it make sense to give up and make that number 40, or 30? I’m glad that you had your realization that your life was worth it, and are dong what you can to stay healthy.

    • August 24, 2011 10:10 am

      That sucks, Kala. It’s amazing how our bodies are capable of such treason. I’ve always known my life is worth it, but I’ve just largely felt like the effort was likely wasted because of my uncle’s apparent fitness. But he was also under a great deal of stress for much of his adult life, much of it self-inflicted. So, I’ve always felt more afraid of stress than any other single contributor to poor health. As a result, I’m relatively mellow for my family, but I’ve neglected that other half of the equation.

      I hope you are able to keep your numbers under control, and can live a long and healthy life.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. LisaWordyAzz permalink
    August 23, 2011 5:15 pm

    I have gotten behind in blogs and some FB comments. I don’t think what I have to say about your blog would change, though had I read them.
    It’s your body and it’s your life, Shannon. I don’t think it makes you less of an FA if you choose to nutrionally overhaul your dietary intake and exercise and if that results in weight loss it doesn’t make you any less of a Fat Activist. While I don’t buy into the whole obesity crisis, this is where I get in a lot of trouble online because while I am anti-wls, and and dieting, I think people have a right to choose to lose weight without being demonized in the Fat Acceptance world, just like Ithink people who are so pro-wls as some people are in my online world as I co-exist in both, have a right to choose that for themselves. They don’t have a right though to shame others who choose different paths to get to one’s best health.
    Personally I do believe some people have health related issues due to their weight and diet. Just not everyone does. As you’ve seen and said, we all know people who thin who have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, etc. There are people of weight who don’t have any of that. That’s why as anti-wls as I am (and in no way advocating to anyone on here to choose any of the weight loss surgerieis) I do defend people’s right to have them. I have seen it save people’s lives. I have just seen it harm more people then it’s helped.
    I feel the most comfortable here, as size acceptance advocate and fat activist because you’ve always been the most open minded of hearing everyone’s stories and allowing for RESPECTFUL struggles that some people have with their bodies and societies perception of them.
    To me Fat Acceptance is allowing people to be whatever size they are, without judgement or shame or bias. If you add on Size Accceptance to me it goes both ways. Thin people should not be demonized anymore then fat people, I only call asshole if someone is an asshole about someone being thin and unfortunately there is way too many people who are assholes and fat bigots.
    I don’t get it with the whole online thing, and I am not saying you are a party of this. I get so much shit for example as a anti-wls advocate, partly because I think it’s a dangerous way to lose weight and also because it did end up ruining MY life due to all of the complications I’ve had. Where I am going with this is I was anti-wls when I was still thin before my complications hit. While I am not gay I am still a gay rights advocate. I don’t know why when it comes to advocacy that someone unless it’s relatable to them they don’t have any empathy for the cause, so to speak.
    I don’t think you should have to defend yourself. If you end up losing weight you end up losing weight. If you start talking about how wonderful your life is all the time because you’ve lost weight and that you’ve been wrong this whole entire time about defending the rights of fat people, then I might take issue. If you choose though to modify your intake and exercise to be healthier and it results in weight loss, that your own damn business and it doesn’t devalue all the work you’ve done as a fat activist, at least in my eyes, and I am sure I am not the only one. Peace.. Lisa

    • August 24, 2011 10:15 am

      Thanks Lisa. As you know, I’m a big believer in bodily autonomy, and part of the reason is that I didn’t want my own choices to be called into a question if/when I had to make them. I believe educating people is the best way to help them decide that WLS is too risky or that weight loss is not the best path to health. I’m glad there are people like you out there helping to spread the message, and sharing your own stories for others to learn from. Keep up the great work!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  3. August 23, 2011 7:17 pm

    “Whether I actually lose 5-10% of my weight does not matter to me, which is why the changes I will make are still aligned perfectly with the Health at Every Size approach.”

    And this is the ENORMOUS mental difference between FA/HAES advocates and people not familiar and/or scornful of them. We will make changes for our health as necessary and not giving a fuck if our weight changes. It’s not about our weight, it’s about our HEALTH, and we know that those two things are not connected.

    Coming home from an hour long walk last night (we went way farther than we usually do!) I commented to the hubs coming up the driveway that I was hungry, then laughed, saying “If I was one of those people walking to lose weight, I’d be all, No, I can’t have a snack! Think of all those calories I just burned!” We grinned at each other and I said “I’m so making a sandwich when I get in.”

    • Kala permalink
      August 24, 2011 12:38 am

      Well I think it’s kind of an exaggeration to say that weight and health are not connected. If I am on chemotherapy and obviously in poor health, it is likely I will lose weight. Alternatively if I was once active, at any size, and became disabled, I may gain weight that is not natural for my body to have. They’re certainly connected, but what’s important to see is that they are not the same. Weight can be a component of health, especially if we’re talking about weight change, like in the examples I gave above. You can be a proud FA at some number of weight, but if you gain or lose dozens of pounds with no explanation, or are gradually gaining or losing weight due to not eating as well or other lifestyle factors, that’s not something that should be ignored. I personally find it hard to agree with FAs that take any sort of connection between health and weight to be some sort of manufactured diet-industry garbage, because I do not think that is the case. I honestly can’t say I know where you stand on that matter, but I did object to the wording I saw in your post.

      • August 24, 2011 11:57 am

        Kala, I agree with your clarification. Weight and health can be connected, but it’s usually not the direct causation that we are led to believe in the media and much of the medical establishment. For instance, traditional medicine would suggest that it is my weight driving up my cholesterol, rather than my dietary choices driving up my cholesterol and, possibly, my weight. So, they may be connected, but not in a directly causal sense.

        And I agree that spikes in weight, up or down, can be a warning sign. The weight itself isn’t the troubling part, it’s the unexplained change that needs investigation to discover the underlying causes. The weight itself is merely a symptom to be used as a diagnostic reference. The problem I have is when weight is treated simply as a disease unto itself.

        Peace,
        Shannon

    • August 24, 2011 10:18 am

      Right on, Jen. I don’t see how people can’t snack after a workout. That’s your body telling you it NEEDS energy. Yeah, go ahead and restrict yourself and see how long you can sustain that lifestyle. Ugh.

      There’s nothing healthy about depriving yourself the nutrition your body is literally signalling you to take in.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  4. Lady of the Lab permalink
    August 23, 2011 7:41 pm

    I think that taking on this new low cholesterol “diet” perfectly aligns with HAES and self-love… thinking back to your post last week about Jess Weiner’s Glamour article, I remember you saying something along the lines of taking care of yourself and your well-being is the epitome of self-love. Not everyone would be willing to change their eating habits in this situation, but I applaud you for challenging yourself to improve your health! Also, plenty of people make dietary changes for reasons totally unrelated to weight… I’ve known several people who have to eat gluten-free diets because of legitimate gluten intolerance and are flabbergasted by the whole gluten-free fad weight loss driven diets. It’s easy to associate weight and weight loss with any sort of dietary change, but I encourage you to primarily focus on maintaining your cholesterol.

    Genetics do play a major role in any person’s predispositions for disease. In my last comment I mentioned I had a clean blood test, but honestly, cholesterol and heart problems aren’t in my family history… neither is diabetes. Instead, I will be facing issues with arthritis, osteoporosis, and eye diseases, which are problems a simple blood test cannot pick up on. At 23 I’m already experiencing occasional back and shoulder stiffness and my eyesight is nowhere near 20/20. But, I see my optometrist on a yearly basis to keep my eyes in check and go to a massage therapist every other month to ease up my aches and pains. I have to do what I can!

    I’ve never really talked about this before, but my ex’s father died of a heart attack before turning 50. My ex’s reaction was heavily influenced by his mother (who was a total ‘health’ nut and constantly harping on my ex for his weight) and they both decided to ‘blame the doctors’ for the death of his father. I was always reluctant to accept this disposition because his father had been a smoker for 30+ years and even while on cholesterol and blood pressure medication, had not given up smoking. Instead of following the doctors’ recommendations for surgery, additional medications, and weekly appointments, my ex’s mother started to strictly control his father’s at-home diet all based on internet-provided information which may or may not have been accurate. I don’t think his father was very happy with his condition or suddenly being unable to eat the things he wanted to eat. Sadly, he passed on, despite having been put on this diet and exercise regimen by his wife, but it was the anti-doctor rhetoric after-the-fact that I found most disturbing, especially since his family had decided to not follow the doctor’s recommendations. I suppose the point I’m trying to make it that, yes, sometimes things are inevitable in regards to our health, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help ourselves be healthier and enjoy whatever time we have left. While it’s easy as fat people to be discouraged to go to the doctor, they are there to help us… they didn’t go to school for years and years just to lecture deaf ears. It comes down to finding a doctor that works with you and your health, rather than against your weight. I’m glad you are finding your own path through the health maze and I hope you continue to inspire the rest of us on our own FA/HAES journeys. Certainly HAES is not for everyone in terms of personal preferences and personal happiness, but we must do whatever works best for ourselves, right?

    Take care,
    Lady

    • August 24, 2011 11:44 am

      Thanks Lady, and I’m sorry to hear about your ex’s father. 50 is far too young for anyone to die, but you’re right… doctor’s recommendations are there for a reason. There are areas where we can question certain aspects of treatment, but when it comes to specific diseases, doctors know the best path. I understand the anti-doctor rhetoric, as they needed somebody to blame and weren’t willing to accept it themselves. But people are doing the best they can to balance their health and their lives and it isn’t always easy.

      I wish you the best with your own health and with the genetic infirmities rolling down the pike. I hope you’re able to stave them off as long as possible! 🙂

      Peace,
      Shannon

  5. Mulberry permalink
    August 23, 2011 8:17 pm

    I think lifespan is basically a crapshoot. You can bump up the odds of living a long healthy life, But it’s still a matter of odds, no guarantees. It’s up to you to weigh the benefits of various habits vs. the quality of life they produce.
    Fat activism can make life better for a whole lot of people, and you can be proud of your activist work, no matter what you happen to weigh or which direction your weight goes.

    • August 24, 2011 11:46 am

      Thanks Mulberry. And you’re absolutely right about it being a crap shoot. I feel like right now I need to make the changes to lower my cholesterol, but wonder if there will be a time when I can reincorporate some of the foods I love back into my diet, along with whatever whole foods I am able to get into me. I want whatever changes I make to be lifelong, and I’m not all that sure how I’m going to respond to this, my first diet (essentially). Crossing my fingers!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  6. August 23, 2011 9:15 pm

    I’m not feeling very loquacious right now. Got some health worries of my own on my mind. But I just wanted to tell you that I totally support you. And I also wanted to thank you for one of the most wonderful phrases I’ve read in a long time: “an exercise I could pursue for the love of movement, rather than the penance of fatness”.

    • August 24, 2011 11:48 am

      Thanks NewMe. I hope you’re able to resolve own health concerns in a positive manner. It’s always a challenge when faced with blatant reminders of your mortality and health, and even more of a challenge to do what needs to be done to “fix” them. But everyone eventually finds one that fits, for better or worse.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  7. August 23, 2011 9:47 pm

    i too have been having health problems of my own (involving unexplained seizures and overnight stays in the hospital after ambulance rides n stuff) and am now facing NEEDING a doctor in my life on a permanent basis.

    Im going to see a gen practitioner doctor for the first time since college for general health as well as trying to get my asthma under control (and i need someone keeping an eye on my anti-seizure meds for now) im scared shitless…like imma find someone with xanax so i dont have a panic attack scared. i NEED someone, with ya know a degree and stuff to be able to prescribe me stuff…but i am oh so scared of doctors. i just KNOW they will see the over 300lb mark in my charts and think me stupid and ill be in for the lecture ™….grrr its just so frustrating…and its hard to be able to tell what is real and what is my eating disorder screaming at me,

    UGH…..

    • August 24, 2011 11:50 am

      I’m so sorry, erylin. At least I made the choice myself to find a doctor, so I was able to prepare for what was coming. You’ve had this thrown at you without warning. Well, now’s the time to start advocating for HAES! 🙂

      Be sure to explain your ED history so they take that into account when giving advice. I think most doctors will listen (for the most part), but you really have to advocate for yourself. Nobody else will. Let us know how it goes. I think letting people hear about our experiences with doctors is a good way to alleviate the fears others may have. Good luck!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  8. MrsS permalink
    August 24, 2011 5:53 am

    Shannon, you aren’t going on a “diet,” you’re trying to adopt a healthier way of eating. It’s not just a matter of semantics. If the new way of eating lowers your cholesterol levels, it will be something that you can stay with for life, whereas a diet is something one does temporarily to lose weight. I”ll join the others in wishing you success.

    • August 24, 2011 12:27 pm

      Thanks Mrs S. It still feels like a diet. 🙂

      To me, true dieting requires an emphasis on weight loss, which is obviously not my goal. But restricting what I can and can’t eat… that’s a diet to me, and I’m not looking forward to it. But I’ll give it the ol’ college try to stay off medication.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  9. alinakaren permalink
    August 24, 2011 6:03 am

    What a coincidence! I recently purchased Dr. Ornish’s book detailing his heart disease Reversal Diet and Prevention Diet. He has published studies confirming success in treating patients with heart disease, improving cholesterol numbers etc. It’s a very interesting read and he admits it’s an extreme approach, which he compares to having children (i.e. it’s a lot of hard work and heartache, but it’s worth it) He mentions weight loss, but it’s more a side affect and predictably, none of his patients complain. I also checked out the recipe book from the library and it’s wonderful.

    Since my family history is worrisome on both sides, and I’m currently on meds for high cholesterol and high triglycerides, I am seriously considering the Prevention Diet. I already like to eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans, so it won’t be much of change for me. The plan is restrictive in what you can eat since meat, oil, and cheese are eliminated, but there is no calorie counting and he says to eat when hungry and stop when you are satisfied.

    My doctor is a vegetarian and he has recommended Dr. Ornish’s program for me for a long time. I guess I’ve considered the possible side effects on my body of the medications and the extra fat tissue since finding out my liver is now in the NAFLD category (non alcoholic fatty liver disease) and a colonoscopy found some pesky polyps.

    Obviously, I agree and support you as you adjust and keep your body as healthy as can be.

    • alinakaren permalink
      August 24, 2011 6:04 am

      PS this is St. Louis Karen, commenting through my WordPress account.

    • August 24, 2011 12:34 pm

      I’ll see if they have it at the library. I’m not a fan of Ornish, from some of the comments I’ve read, but I’ve already assumed I would need to eat more veggies, beans and whole grains, and less meat, oil and cheese. Recipes would help, though.

      I think if i were going to be anything, it would probably be a pescatarian. That’s the word, right? Fishaterians?

      Anyway, I’m sad for the loss of my beloved cheese, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

      Good luck with your health as well!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  10. sweet Priscilla permalink
    August 24, 2011 7:26 am

    I wish the best for you and your journey finding a style of eating that works for your good health but there are many studies showing that the low fat vegatarian approach is not wnat it seems. Especially the use of highly processed vegetable oils and the proliferation of processed soy products. For another view on your health issue I would take a look at “The Cholesterol Myth” by Uffe Ravnkoff,

    • August 24, 2011 12:52 pm

      Priscilla,
      I read a few reviews of “The Cholesterol Myth” and it reminds me of “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” I’m not sure what to believe on this front, as everyone claims to have access to superior knowledge on diet, while stating the polar opposite of another equally certain advocate. It has become low-fat versus low-carb, and both sides are claiming that the other is cherry-picking and not substantiating their theories.

      It’s so damned confusing! I have no idea what to believe, any more. I guess I need to do more research.

      Thanks for the advice.

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • September 12, 2011 3:47 pm

        That will teach me for commenting before reading all the other comments! I see you are familiar with Gary Taubes. I still would urge you to check out Fat Head (the movie on Netflix). It might even change your mind. You could also try the low carb approach if this low fat deal doesn’t give you the intended results or you just get sick of the food. I very much prefer to eat my bacon, eggs, and grass fed meat as opposed to tofu and whole grains in my (successful) bid to get healthier. But that’s just me!

  11. vesta44 permalink
    August 24, 2011 4:29 pm

    Shannon – You might want to check out this article : http://www.medpagetoday.com/PrimaryCare/DietNutrition/28168?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&userid=333887
    It was in my email today from MedPage Today about reducing LDL cholesterol through dietary changes. Don’t know how much help it will be, but it might give you some ideas of where to look further.

    • August 25, 2011 11:32 pm

      Thanks for the link, vesta. Interesting… I didn’t see if it said they looked at how combined cholesterol fighting and lower saturated fat. I’m guessing the more you can do, the better. Thanks for sharing!

      Peace,
      Shannon

  12. MrsS permalink
    August 24, 2011 6:07 pm

    Shannon, to further confuse you, this morning’s Los Angeles Times had an article on reducing cholesterol. A Canadian study advocated adding tofu and nuts, as well as other foods mentioned, to one’s eating practices. Now, I’m sure that the proponents of the study aren’t talking about the processed soy products that Sweet Priscilla mentions.

    Here’s a quote from the article: “Among the 267 subjects who completed the trial, all three groups lost roughly an equal amount of weight — between about 2 pounds 10 ounces and 3 pounds 12 ounces — after six months. But those on one of the portfolio diets — intensive or routine — saw their LDL cholesterol levels decline between 13.1% and 13.8% after six months. Subjects on the low-saturated-fat diet had, on average, a 3% reduction in their LDL cholesterol in the same period.”

    http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-cholesterol-lowering-foods-20110824,0,7258520.story

    I would like to add one more comment. I am on the borderline regarding cholesterol, and, like you, would prefer to reduce my levels through food. I also have mild gastric reflux. I don’t mind taking the medication that the doctor prescribed for the gastric reflux because I have noticed the difference. However, a person doesn’t feel anything with high cholesterol. If eating the right kinds of food doesn’t lower my cholesterol, which is a hereditary problem, I may have to take meds.

  13. September 3, 2011 8:44 pm

    Brandon, how do you respond to THIN people who have diabetes, high cholestrol and high blood pressure? Just wonderin’… I am clinically obese and I have reactive HYPOglycemia,pulmonary HYPOtension, and abnormally low both good and bad lipids..Oh shit I forgot, I am anemic, too. For Real…. Just sayin’…..

  14. September 12, 2011 3:36 pm

    I just wanted to chime in with a different perspective… There is a lot of evidence promoting an alternative hypothesis regarding high cholesterol/heart disease. I am in total support of your desire to make some changes for your health. However, the low fat approach may not be the best for what you’re trying to achieve. I know from being a long time reader that you are very open to new ideas and not dogmatic. If you have some time, check out the movie FAT HEAD on Netflix streaming or Hulu. That movie and also the book “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes have changed my life. Yes, both things are couched from a weight loss perspective, but that can be ignored. The important info is about how it’s really our bodies’ reaction to the carbs in our diet, NOT the saturated fat that is causing the heart issues. Sounds crazy, but it makes sense if you give it a chance. The science/evidence is also there. Those two things eventually lead me to The Paleo Solution (a book and podcast by Robb Wolf) which really blew my mind! Imagine for just a moment that everything we’ve been told has pretty much been wrong. The turn around in my own health has been incredible during the past 7 months. I am NOT trying to push a weight loss agenda of any kind (although I am indeed losing weight currently). Just take a look at another point of view. You might be surprised at what you find. I sure was!

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