I was talking the other night to a few other mamas about getting a little, um, older. Things on our bodies don’t always seem to be in the right places anymore, we agreed. Gravity seems to be taking a toll and the sun, that lovely orb that used to bring us nothing but unmitigated joy, is causing us to have wrinkles.
I have noticed being a little more tired the last year or so with a little less bounce back on those mornings when I’ve stayed up too late the night before. Me and my four-year-old are alike in lots of ways but especially in that if we don’t get enough sleep it’s not fun for anyone the next day. She can writhe around on the floor and scream. I just have to settle for wanting to.
This getting-on-up-there conversation came a month or so after I’d gotten my cholesterol tested. It was a little high. Weight, fine. Body Mass Index, fine. Thyroid, fine. Cholesterol, not so fine. My grandmother had her first heart attack at 51 so I called my dad, who also has high cholesterol, to commiserate hoping he’d reassure me that I’m not on the same path as my grandmother.
“Yeah, mine got up to 190 before my doctor put me on medication,” he said.
“Oh, well the medication really helped,” he said. “He talked to me about diet changes and all that but it’s really easy to take a little pill every day.”
My dad loves potato chips and, I’ve heard through my sister that he even eats Twinkies. At least he did before they stopped making them. I credit him with my love of Moon Pies and BBQ Ruffles but, I told myself when I saw 226 on the results I got from the doctor’s office, I don’t eat that stuff very often.
Evidently that wasn’t true.
I started Googling -- Lower cholesterol. 226 cholesterol. Women and high cholesterol – and realized quickly that the processed foods in my diet were not helping my plight.
High cholesterol may be hereditary but so too are our food habits. But heredity doesn’t take into account our emotional attachments to food. Ruffles make me think of my dad standing in front of our pantry on Honeybee Trail trying to decide what to make for dinner. Cold fountain Coke reminds me of hot summer days working at the Peach Stand in high school. Biscuits, of course, they remind me of my grandmother’s kitchen. So it’s with no small amount of nostalgia that pass these things over, that I crave these things. I crave Ruffles but I also crave my dad’s kitchen. I crave Coke but I also crave the melting heat of a Southern summer. I crave biscuits but what I really crave is my grandmother.
In these cravings though I thought about what my daughters will crave. What foods will they associate with me, with our house, with growing up.
So, I took a deep breath, got myself to the grocery store and changed what I eat. Vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts. I cut out most sugar. I cut out most wheat. Gone are the bread, pasta and tortillas. Gone are the Nilla Wafers and Tostitos. During the first few weeks I was starving, which suggested to me just how much of filler I was actually eating, and they were a lot harder than I thought. After a few months I’ve got a few stock recipes and I’ve mainly figured out what to eat for lunch.
This dietary shift was not meant to affect the whole family but it has in positive ways. I’ve even seen Eliza (the pickiest eater on the planet) eat Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Lucille, well she still eats everything we put in front of her. I haven’t had my cholesterol checked since the switch up but I’m hopeful that I’ll be around a long time to watch these two little eat well even if I do have lines and gravity continues to not be kind.