As a child, I accused my mother a lot of hypochondria-by-proxy. She sent me to the doctor for every kind of test at every possible opportunity. Obviously, she was just a concerned parent– and with good reason; I was often sick and battled a myriad of chronic conditions. Everything runs in my family– heart trouble, high blood pressure, diabetes, morbid obesity, cancer… Both my parents have had cholesterol problems in the past few years.
I’ve also mentioned that my mother is a clinical dietitian. She’s actually a damn good one, and I’m very proud of her and what she has achieved in her practice. Her specialty, however, is dealing with the already unwell and prescribing palliative nutrition for those who require intravenous care. She does not specialize in everyday nutrition. So when it comes to how we should eat… as I’ve been seduced by the more paleo school of thought… we’ve disagreed with increased frequency. In order to remedy her high (LDL) cholesterol, my mom turned to whole-grains and a more vegetarian-based approach. She’s also warned me often about the dangers of the coconut milk I pour into my morning coffee. All my research and my mother’s advice have given me two conflicting ideologies that have made it difficult for me to commit to any methodology.
However, since I started working with a Coach, she took my nutrition out of my hands– which I needed. But it means that, for the past two months I’ve been consuming amounts of saturated fat that would make my mother faint. Egg yolks, bacon, and coconut oil every morning. About 7 tablespoons of coconut oil every day. Tons of red meat (over 1lb of meat a day…). For the months leading up to this, I’d been slowly ramping up to this style of eating– so I’d say it’s been about a good year that I’ve been trying a more fat-based diet… I just really threw myself in headfirst for the past couple months because I was sick of straddling the line, unsure of whether to believe all the new advice I got from the ancestral-based movement or to trust in the “tried-and-true” “whole-grains” type wisdom.
I want to make the caveat now that I think the way I’ve been eating for the past two months, specifically, is rather extreme… it’s completely designed for me to grow as a CrossFitter and not for much else. In the future, in life, when eating more for enjoyment, I will probably stop consuming raw coconut oil by the spoonful and just use it to cook delicious parts of cow. But ANYWAY… I decided to get a lipid panel to find out how my nutrition was affecting my insides. Externally, I’ve felt great. I’ve had more energy than I ever had (and reduced my caffeine consumption to 25% of what I used to have). I’ve recovered much faster and been getting stronger and have been putting on weight. Internally, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just clogging my arteries.
So… (drumroll please) my doctor messaged me this morning. My HDL (good cholesterol) is through the roof and my LDL (bad cholesterol) is well within the acceptable range. My HDL was so high that the note says :”verified by repeated testing, sent to Quest labs for verification”)… so I guess I puzzled them a bit. The doctor told me to keep doing what I’m doing; I chose not to mention that I’ve been on the steak-and-bacon-diet.
I don’t want to give nutritional recommendations to anyone. I’m positive that it’s a very personalized thing. I know fantastic athletes and just-plain-healthy individuals that are paleo, paleo-zone, vegan, vegetarian, carnivorous, or on the Nabisco eating plan. I just know that, at least for now, I’ve found what works for me. After having so many small but obnoxious health problems, I was relieved to hear the doctor use the term “healthy”… So, for you all, I encourage a bit of self-experimentation. And a bit of bacon.