The next installment of my diet situation. You can go back to the last one [here].
Most of the time when folks are talking about their diet, they’re talking about what I think of Diet with a big D. When I’m complaining about my diet, that’s what most folks offer up as a solution. Those solutions are the sort of thing that, at their core, are centered around reducing calorie intake. There’s low-fat, Keto, Whole 30 (keto/elimination), and things like weight watchers, which I don’t quite understand, but involves removing calorie counts and inserting points. This blog post isn’t about any of those. They’re not my chief issue at the moment. When I set my mind to it, I can lose weight (to a point). This post is about the other sort of diet. This is one I reckon has a little d and involves the foods you routinely eat to not die of starvation.
My long-term problem involves finding the answer to the question: What do I eat that is nourishing, filling, and will lead to better heart health while maintaining a healthy weight? I’d also like the food to taste good, but really, at this point, I think that’s asking just way the hell too much. As I mentioned before, I had a blood test and my doctor had a PA call me and tell me to stop being fat and unhealthy. Maybe the exact phrasing involved losing weight, stop drinking, and engage in a low-fat, low-carb diet. The ideal situation would have been to give me a referral to a nutritionist or something. Instead, I got the Internet. Thanks, US medical system and the $20,000 we pay in every year for absolutely nothing (yes, I paid for that doctor visit too it was like $130, plus the bloodwork).
So, armed with vague guidelines and my numbers, I went to the Internet. What I found was the following:
- A diet of 1650 calories to lose weight, and 2000 calories to maintain weight (I’ve also found sources suggesting 2200 to maintain a healthy weight – I call BS),
- Carbohydrates consisting of 20-25% (85g-106g) of daily calorie intake*,
- Fat at 25%-30% (47g-56g) of daily intake**,
- Saturated fats at less than 7% of daily calorie intake or about 16g on my plan**,****,
- Dietary cholesterol of less than 165mg***,
- Avoid trans-fats,
- Avoid alcohol,
- The limited fats that I do choose to consume must to be high in poly/monounsaturated fats, AND
- Carbohydrates that I do consume need to be high in fiber and low in added sugars.
After all this research, I felt pretty good for a day or two, until I started tracking my foods in a diary. Then reality hit me. This isn’t possible. I’ve been trying for months to figure it out and I can’t even get close. I’ve done everything I can think of. I’ve even spent time looking into high-protein, low-carb vegetarian options. No mix of food-stuffs I can find will allow me to reach these goals. I’ll get into each of the macros and their special problems in later posts. That said, I did manage to find a diet plan, which is designed for heart health first and foremost, with weight-loss being a separate thing. Unfortunately, even that falls short. An illustration of that heart-healthy plan, along with some recipes, can be found [HERE].
After reading this, you might say: Dave, it’s staring you in the face, buddy, this is what you need – just ignore the other stuff you found! Unfortunately, no. Not quite. Recall the thing about my triglycerides? The cookbook in that link recommends carbohydrates should be 45-65% of daily calorie intake. While this is probably a pretty good heart-healthy diet for some, it’s not healthy for me my levels are some eight to ten times higher than what they should be. The key ways to address that are: Reduce Carbs, lose weight, stop drinking. The second two are pretty doable but are only likely to draw these numbers down by like half or so, provided various sources are accurate. So, this would appear to be a non-starter.
At this point, I’d like to offer a conclusion or some sort of recommendation. Hell, I’d even be happy with an optimistic platitude. I’m afraid I haven’t got any of that. I’m confounded and frustrated. There just doesn’t seem to be a healthy path forward for me, not really and it’s almost certainly a genetic problem. To make matters worse, I’m starting to come to suspect that even healthy advice we’ve all come to take for granted might, in fact, simply be marketing gimmicks, and nothing more. After all, most of the advice I see doesn’t seem to match up with dietary guidelines (I’m calling out oatmeal here, because seriously, that shit doesn’t seem to be all that good for you when you look at it and compare to other options) Really, the most likely scenario is that I’m going to spend my life eating foods I don’t like that cause more than a little bit of abdominal discomfort, and don’t fill me up. Then, after all that being unhappy and gassy, I’ll die of a heart attack anyhow.
** Cleveland Clinic (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17583-triglycerides–heart-health/diet)
*** Same as link 2, except I’ve made the assumption that 200mg is based on a 2,000 calorie diet, and scaled it down to fit a 1650 calorie diet
BONUS FOOTNOTE (‘Healthy’ diet recipes): https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/keep-beat-heart-healthy-recipes