A New Perspective

I have to admit that I am surprised by very little these days.  But my recent physical at Mayo Clinic left me stunned.  My coronary calcium test showed a buildup of calcium in my left coronary artery, indicating that I am 98% more likely than women my age to experience a heart attack or stroke in the future.  While I have been presenting moderately high cholesterol levels for the last few years, my HDL, or “good”, cholesterol levels are high enough to mitigate the risk of a serious condition.  Or so I thought.  Specifically the last four years my LDL has been 103, 104, 106, and 108.  I exercise, follow mainly a Mediterranean diet and am reasonably lean.  So, what are my options?

I could go on cholesterol reducing medications called statins, but I’ve decided to see if a change in lifestyle and eating habits will move the needle in the right direction.  Striving for balance in my life has been an ongoing issue.  What is clear to me, is that the balance I thought I was achieving is actually setting me on a dangerous trajectory.  Therefore, I have decided to follow a plant-based diet for three months, at which point I will take another cholesterol test to ascertain whether diet alone lowers my LDL levels.  No meat, no dairy, no fried food (and many may say “no fun”).  My goal is to have my LDL under 80, but I remain hopeful that I can achieve even better results.

This could actually be an opportune moment in my life.  As my blog progresses, I have been asked by many where I plan to take my writing.  Ever since my mother was fighting leukemia I have had an interest in diet, and specifically the role that diet can play in our health.  When she was home from the hospital after her chemotherapy rounds, I found myself pouring over cookbooks related to cooking for cancer patients.  Even for a classically trained chef, it wasn’t easy.  While we were given a road map for the treatments that just about killed her immune system, there was little information on how to help her at home through nutrition or mental health.

Nutrition should be just that: nutritious.  For what are we doing if not sustaining our bodies and our health.  I have to think that much can be accomplished by the food we intake rather than just by medication, or by using food in conjunction with medication.  To just take a pill and think that all will be better does not sit quite right.  Plus, I am a control freak.  So, yes, I want to see if I can be in control of this.  And I am curious as to where this journey will take me.

I will continue to write about culinary events and restaurants in the Valley and on my various travels.  I hope to be transparent about my restrictions, and I don’t feel it will hold me back.  It may even be interesting to see where I can find some tasty dishes, and to see if/when a restaurant can creatively accommodate me on this journey.  I am reminded of what I tell my kids when they come home with a low test score, or if they add time at a swim meet: without challenge there is no growth.

I am interested in what you have to say and in any pieces of advice or encouragement.  Emails are great, but, please also include a comment in the comments section at the bottom of the post.  By allowing all to see we may even start an interesting dialogue.  As always, I plan to remain positive and maintain a sense of humor.  XoM

Photos by the lovely and talented Christine Johnson of Christine Johnson Photography.

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13 Comments

  • Christine Johnson

    wow… I cannot wait to read what you write about on this new “journey”. PS…

    Have your ever hear of Dr. Ray Peat? Check him out (very complicated but… ) and Danny Roddy who breaks a lot of hiss work down. It is very interesting and I am a believer.

    • TexazTaste

      Thanks, Christine! I haven’t heard about either! Just starting my reading and research, so I am very thankful for this. So far, all I have read is Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. xo

  • Michele A. Beyer

    Oh Marci – Holy SH#!. You’ve got this baby – and please let’s chat a bit offline, Tom and I have plenty of great ideas on dietary changes vs. meds! Did you have them do an Ultra Sound ON your Carotid artery? That gives a WAY better indication if you truly have any blockages to be concerned with…..
    Since wine comes from grapes…does that fall under a plant based menu??? 🙂
    XOXO

    • TexazTaste

      I know I got this. Didn’t have an ultrasound. I go back in three months to have a more in depth discussion. Wine is definitely on the approved list, mainly red. Sadly, French fries are no longer on my list. So sad about that…we’ll talk soon. xoxo

  • Jordan Rose

    French fries are way over rated!! You’ll do great and so helpful that you’d share this with us!

    • TexazTaste

      Thanks, Jordan! I am looking forward to finding and photographing some beautiful and tasty healthy dishes!

  • Ana Moran-Cevallos

    Sorry to hear about this, Marci. I have read about and seen success in using ketogenic diet to control cholesterol issues. I would gladly share sources. Low carb is definitely the way to go. Like you, I am convinced that what we eat not only prevents but also has the power to heal many conditions, particularly those of metabolic nature like high cholesterol levels. I look forward to seeing and learning from your progress!! All the best, Ana

    • TexazTaste

      Hi Ana. Thank you for your input. It means so much to hear from you that diet has the power to heal! I have a lot to research, and know that what works for one does not work for all, but I am excited about the journey!

  • Maddox Stevens

    I empathize with you on this new journey. I discovered the brain needs good fats to be well, and that carbs are bad. Ketogenic is too strict and hard to follow, even though I had success with my numbers by following it. Best of luck to you – can’t wait to read your updates on what you learn.

    • TexazTaste

      Thank you, Maddox! My brother-in-law had a similar experience to mine, and has been able to reverse his numbers on diet alone, so I have a lot of faith! I realize it will take some trial and error to find what works for me, and am thankful for everyone’s input. I am also very thankful to have found this out now before any major harm was done!

  • Dale Nat

    Marci,
    Glad to hear you are being proactive with your health. Life is full of twists and turns. Our outward appearance is not always a sign of our overall health. My brother and I are the same height, but my frame carries at least a 100 more pounds. He is the one with the high blood pressure and cholesterol. Obviously, diet plays a big part in our overall health, but genetics is the overall director of our health. Why do some people have more health issues than others? I have been a Make-A-Wish volunteer for 20 plus years and always questioned why some kids have serious health issues and others have none. We can’t always know the why, but must do our best to play the hand we are dealt. That said, I always trust in my faith and know God has a plan. I think your change in direction with diet is part of his plan for you. It may not seem fair, being a food blogger and chef, but you have a “voice” and your community will embrace your message whichever direction that may go. More importantly, they will learn from your journey. We are all blessed beyond measure. Some people just have a harder time recognizing those blessings – our families, friendships, a sunset, a warm cup of coffee, and the ability to choose any path desire. I trust your inner voice will show you the way! Sending prayers of encouragement your way!! Will keep an eye out for new recipes you share and updates on your journey. A proverb I live by; “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.” This applies to everyone whether you are 10 or 90. Tomorrow is never promised. All we can do is have an attitude of gratitude and enjoy today(the present) God Bless!
    Dale Nat- Unstoppable Foodie

    • TexazTaste

      Hi Dale,
      Thank you for this thoughtful and insightful comment. I feel blessed for this wakeup call to have happened now, rather than down the road when it would have been very serious. I agree with you that this was a path I was meant to travel, and hope to rise to the challenge with grace, as my parents would have wanted. Thank you again for your encouragement and faith! xoM

  • Renee Fuentes

    Hi Marci- I love your honesty about your health journey, I know you will help others and yourself by being transparent. Looks like you already have some good support! There’s so many good plant based recipes, I’m sure you will find a way to still make them delicious 🙂

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