DIET AND HEALTH
I visited the doctor at my local health centre a couple of weeks ago for my annual bloods and check-up. That was all a quick enough operation and I waited patiently for the blood results. Now in former times you had to ring up at a designated time on an appointed day while the nurse or doctor related the results to you. All this has changed now of course. Cometh the Covid cometh more efficient communication methods and cometh the text message with the blood results. I was delighted that all results came back looking good except for one sentence. This noted that my cholesterol level was creeping up slightly and needed attention.
Being the non-medical person that I am I had to ring the doctor to check out what this sentence meant. He was happy with all my results, but my diet needed some small corrective action. There was no need for medication. I reported this to my chief medical adviser and dietician at home and so an immediate corrective action plan was put in place.
The first part of this involved a very strict and honest examination of conscience. I had to sit down, take out the notebook and write down what I thought were bad cholesterol foods in my present diet.
Now I immediately had to confess that I was sliding down the bad eating habits road over the past few months since my very sensible Happy Heart course days which I did in Greystones with the Happy Pear boys. Those were the days when my motto was “if it has a head or a mother avoid it”. I stuck rigidly to a vegetarian diet for eight weeks and I felt remarkably fit and well at the end of it all. My cholesterol dropped appreciably while chocolate, cheese, butter, full fat milk and cakes were banned totally from my diet. It was a strict diet regime with all foods noted in my daily food diary and presented at the course each week.
Now in my present examination of eating habits I started ticking new boxes. Whenever I went to the supermarket, I felt myself invariably drawn to the cheese counter. I was delighted when I saw the three packs for a tenner. I picked out the lovely blue cheeses, the camembert, cambazola and any full fat cheese I could find. When I came home, I was prone to opening the Wicklow Blue and putting some on a cracker. Now mind you, I was fairy generous with the cheese slice. There was no point in putting my finger in danger when slicing. This habit was one that had to be discontinued and so it was written down on my new rules for living book / No more cheese to be bought or eaten.
I loved the couple of glasses of red or white wine at the weekend. They were a great means of relaxing. There was unfortunately a bad combination here because whenever I had the wine the cracker and cheese followed. This was noted for attention in the new dietary regime and had to cease, at least temporarily.
I must admit I have a very sweet tooth and where chocolates were concerned, I was a complete and utter chocaholic. There was no polite pass the box around and take one please. One led to two and you know the rest of the story. We had recently opened a box of chocolates and I was making good headway through them, me being the only real sweet tooth in the house. I thought about this and announced to my senior dietician that I was going to dump the rest of them. It was with heavy heart that I proceeded to the waste bin. I was quite bold and decided on my way out, to have a final peep inside the box. There were none left except toffees, and they were bad for my dental fillings. They were consigned to the bin, and I noted this momentous event in my diary thus, Today I think I am taking leave of my senses, I have dumped sweets. Senior household management looked amazed but reserved comment. The tin was duly deposited in the recycling bin and another phase of the reform dietary process was complete with the sweet temptation removed from the scene.
When I go to Dublin there is nothing I like better than a visit to Butlers or, Le Petit Parisien on Wicklow Street for a coffee and chocolate or a croque monsieur. It is such a lip-smacking treat. This is also a habit I have at home with coffee, and I use full cream milk in the frother. This enhances the taste of the coffee. We recently discovered a full cream milk from Donegal. I just loved it but now with the truth commission and notebook it had to go and be replaced by skim and soya milk.
My beloved full fat yogurts are also removed from the fridge shelves and are replaced by soya products which after two weeks usage I rather like.
And now, the end of dietary examination is near, and so I face my final habit inculcated in me since my youth. I just love butter, full unblended unmitigated wholesome butter. My granny made her own butter and so from an early age I had home made bread and country butter. I had butter and spuds, butter and cabbage or turnips, butter, and jam on scones.
My father, just most people of his generation, loved butter on the new potatoes. He could not visualise eating new potatoes without the butter flowing out of them. I naturally followed suit and would still be prone to the full lash of butter on everything. Fried mushrooms never tasted right unless they were cooked with a generous slice of butter. Now the new food plan decrees that this habit be banished for good. Oh! this healthy living. Ochón, butter is now on the bad forbidden food list and is to be replaced by some new-fangled imitation called PURE, made by the Kerry Group, and a more acceptable spread called Benecol. Heath is wealth, they say, so we must make every effort to keep our personal engines ticking over OK.
There is an appreciable rise in the consumption of fresh fruit, vegetarian, and fish dishes here at home for the past two weeks and a major diminution in the amount of meat eaten. Barbecue usage has also lessened because of my fondness for the burgers and barbecue sausages with the accompanying unhealthy sauces and of course the necessary nibbling while cooking.
The strict exercise routine continues, with my good friend Joe Wicks and the shoe leather continues to be worn down with the constant daily 10000 steps to keep us in shape and fine-tuned.
We will survive this new dietary process and when we go back for the next cholesterol test, we will be down to zero rating.
I am supremely confident that my arterial workings will be fat free and that the blood will have an easier passage as it courses around the body.
Happy healthy covid free days to you all in the months ahead. Stay well, stay exercised and stay connected.