My Journey with High Cholesterol

February 11, 2018   25 Comments

Back in January, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and I was referred to a registered dietician.

My Journey with High Cholesterol

Before I get into the results, I want to thank everyone for their inspiring comments and e-mails. You are all very supportive and know that I read each one and I will do my best to make the changes to bring down my number.

The RD and I met after my diagnosis and she gave me a series of changes for my diet which I had to do for three weeks. I outlined her recommendations in Got High Cholesterol? So Do I.

Here I am, a month later to share how it went. I was pretty successful with the changes that she suggested. I did stuff like read my own website and make the recipes from it ☺

The bad news is that I now have to live with more “moderation” and that means 80% of the time, I stick to the new diet. The other 20% is for when I feel that I need a treat or am in a situation where there are no choices. For example, I am going to a wedding and I WILL HAVE CAKE.

This is a pretty major shift as I used to simply eat what I want. Now I have to make some hard choices and my motivation is my health.

I am going to go into more depth on each of these dietary requirements but I thought it would be fun to share a quick set of solutions that I came up with.

  1. Eat all whole grains

I didn’t realize how much white rice I was eating. I made brown rice and enjoyed it. This was an easy switch.

  1. No added sugar

This was a bit rough. My solution was Medjool dates for when I was craving chocolate or cookies. I tried to keep it to two per day.

  1. Lean meat and protein and more beans

I eat this usually but I rarely went out to eat for the three weeks. I would have been tempted by fattier cuts of meat liked pulled pork or ribs.

  1. Low fat dairy – only 1 ounce of cheese per day

One percent milk in my coffee, avocado and peanut butter on my whole grain toast (instead of butter) and lots of hummus without tahini. I missed cheese but I made do.

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables

I roasted broccoli and other vegetables and stuck them in the fridge. The only problem is that my family kept eating them! (which is a good thing but a bit frustrating).

  1. Eat healthy fats (olive oil, fish, avocadoes, nuts)

I found this easy as I always eat these foods.

  1. Four ounces of red wine per day

This is where the biggest problem of all occurred because I love beer. I wrote a post on light beer a few years back - the best light beer – and found that I like Corona Light. Going forward I will have these instead of the higher carb beer I was drinking (unless it is 20% time).

This is just the beginning of my journey and I don’t know if these changes will impact my cholesterol levels but the RD made the point that if I wanted to avoid diabetes – these were good changes to make.

She said that our affluent lifestyle made it very difficult to be healthy. When she said that, she was comparing me to a goat herder (someone who walks all day long as his job). I think she has a very good point. I thought that I was healthy but I am surrounded by so much rich food (and I was eating it). I didn’t realize the impact of all of it.

What do you think of these changes? How would you approach them? Do you have any favorite solutions that you would like to share?

Other posts you might like:

I Have High Cholesterol

Got High Cholesterol? So Do I

Before Christmas I took a blood test. It revealed that I had high cholesterol and not the good kind.

Hummus Recipe Without Tahini

This hummus recipe without tahini was developed to help people who wanted to make hummus but didn’t want to spend $9 on a jar of tahini.....

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 25 )

We also struggle with high cholesterol here. One favorite"switch" was making crock pot pulled pork with lean pork tenderloin. A Taste of Home recipe with homemade BBQ sauce was the best! We don't miss the "full fat" version at all. We also like pulled chicken breast in the crock more dry, overcooked chicken breast for us!

The good news is the longer you continue to eat whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, beans and legumes etc. (I do the vegan version of this so I can't speak to the rest) the more your tastes change. Now I crave these foods instead of the foods I used to eat (most of the time 😊). I've found great sweet and savory recipes for foods that I love using healthier ingredients, so liking to cook has really saved me. My best baking tip is that they're are tons of baking recipes that are sweetened with dates. You can check out Forks Over Knives for some great ideas.

Best of luck on this new path! And thanks for sharing your details with us. It's interesting to me that I read about many sources touting the complete removal of grains and sugar and the addition of much larger quantities of "healthy" fats, but clearly most RDs are sticking to what the major medical associations have been saying about what constitutes a healthy diet for many decades. I often feel conflicted about this advice. In recent years, I have dramatically increased the amount of fat in my diet (compared to the Lean Cuisine/Snackwells 1990s ;) and have reduced grains and sugar. My cholesterol has gone up - but, both the "good" and "bad", and the ratio between them has improved. I don't have what is considered high cholesterol so I haven't paid much more attention beyond noting that. I'll be following your journey with interest!

Can you please share by how much your cholesterol dropped ?

My PA suggested Red Yeast Rice and CoQ10, both found in the supplements aisle. After only 3 months of using these, my numbers came down significantly! My dosage was 600 mg of Red Yeast Rice twice a day and 100 mg of CoQ10 once a day. Talk to our dietician about these. Good luck!

You may want to read Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore. Extremely insightful!

What wholengrain bread, with no added sugar, did you find for your toast?

Well congratulations Lisa! It sounds like this was quite a transition for you. I am right with you, always thinking my diet is stellar, but upon further reflection ... maybe not so much? Your dieticians advice is interesting. I will be very interested to hear how your numbers come out at next blood draw. I never had any cholesterol problems until menopause, when the dramatically high number freaked me out ... so I can relate. Since then (I'm 62), I've gone on & off statins. I don't like the way they make me feel, they cause muscle aches for me, so I haven't been on them now since last April ... (whoops, I'm overdue to get checked). I am pretty good with the diet, but wine is my downfall ... 5 ozs per day ... I'm definitely over that! Good luck, and keep us posted!

What do you think of these changes? I think they are very good. I am currently attempting to follow themes improve my own health.

How would you approach them? Look for alternatives for what I can’t have which is gluten so I have to leave out some whole grains.

Do you have any favorite solutions that you would like to share? Try to eat food in it’s most wholesome form.

You talk about diet which is of course important but I was wondering if you were recommended a vigorous exercise regime, more than daily walking?

My doctor allows me to have one alcoholic beverage a day but to me that doesn't even get the party started so I am having an alcohol time-out and the longer I go without, the less I miss it. It hasn't been a struggle really.

As of yesterday I have lost 70 pounds in the last 2 years through diet, walking, and IndoRow classes.

My cholesterol hasn't been checked since last summer and it was ok then. BP is now normal (with meds).

You inspire me to keep at it!

My best suggestion for treating high cholesterol, is to eat a vegetarian diet. I think you are making important changes, don't give up! High cholesterol comes from eating animal products. Since I've been eating the vegetarian diet, high cholesterol is not an issue, nor high levels of fat in my blood. I feel better, and my weight is easier to maintain, a win-win. Being diagnosed with high cholesterol, or diabetes, is an opportunity to eat better, exercise more and improve your life!

It took me quite a while to get the hang of red wine. I started out with red Zinfandel while eating dinner. Now I love all kinds of red wine! And my cholesterol numbers have been good. I hope that helps. Good luck!

My doctor hasn't tested me again for my cholesterol levels so I don't know if my dietary change is effective. Thanks for asking!!

Thank you, Lisa , for sharing your new diet.

My husband has just been told to follow a Mediterranean diet and I will follow many of your recommendations. I will be eating healthier with him, too.

Looking forward to more of your suggestions and insights .

Your friend ,

Martha in Philly

Are you now fixing meals for your family based on your dietary restrictions? I also have high cholesterol & this is an area I find difficult. It's hard for me to come up with varied meals that meet my needs that my family will eat.

Sounds like a great plan. I wish you strength to succeed and as you do I know you will feel better for it. Sometimes we fall into patterns that aren't ideal and we need a jolt to make changes. You provide so many a place of support and sharing so I hope you receive support and encouragement everyday from your loyal followers. I agree with Pat above. Watch motivational films including What the Health, 100s of videos at, especially… . By following the ''Daily Dozen'' you won't have room for much more! And yes your tastes will change and so will your cravings. I've had a lot of success following most of these dozen items for 6 months now. I do not miss meat one bit! The only animal product I still use is 1 oz cheese twice weekly. Sometimes it's Nut Cheese. Switching to plant milk is wonderful, including experimenting with creamers. I think your new lifestyle will match with the latest health trends which are much less confusing and more conclusive than ever before and based on the balance of thousands of evidence-based research available today.

@Jill: Ezekial Sesame Sprouted Whole Grain Bread is amazing toasted. I add a thin smear of PB with sliced banana or no-sugar added fruit spread (St Dalfour or Crofts). It's also delicious with avocado slices, grape tomatoes & sprouts for breakfast.

@Jean - that is a really good question. I will write a post about it. I am doing stuff like making vegetarian chili and adding cheese for my son or eating a separate meal when they are having something I can't eat. It is a bit tricky.

Other than the cost, I'm not sure why you wouldn't have tahini in your hummus. It is a healthy fat. In my recipe you would only get a 1/2 teaspoon of it in a 1/2 cup of hummus and who actually eats that much unless you are putting it in a sandwich? It adds so much flavor for so little fat that you might reconsider leaving it out since you might find your hummus is more satisfying with its flavor.

As for no added sugar, I do eat 2 small squares of Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs everyday. It is so satisfying and only has 3 grams of sugar. Maybe you will be able to add something like that soon. :-)

Another idea (if you haven't thought about it already) is I substitute non fat plain yogurt for any recipe that calls for mayo or sour cream - salad dressings, sauces, you name it. I usually use regular but if you need the thickness of sour cream then you could use Greek style.

Lastly, check out They have hundreds of recipes that are all very low fat with very little if any sugar.

Years ago, my ob/gyn recommended red yeast rice to improve cholesterol. I don’t know if taking it has made a difference, but if you’re going to buy it, every few months it’s on sale in the Costco coupon book.🙂

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