Diabetes Blogs

Prediabetes Disbelief: The Confusing Quest to Lower My Cholesterol

Alma Schneider with Syrian Food My angel of abstinence—a constant companion during the early part of the day—seems to give way to the devil of decadence (and delicious Doritos) after 4:30 pm! Thank goodness for hummus and veggies.

In my last blog post I was extremely frustrated at my lack of weight loss after a well-controlled diet and consistent exercise. Vanity had gotten the best of me, feeling lousy for not fitting into my clothes, but at least my health seemed OK and I felt good. That was until I got the results of my fasting blood work. 

For some very strange reason, my LDL cholesterol level shot up 140 to 180 with my HDL staying the same. My total cholesterol level was now 280! I forgot all about my ever-growing love handles and now feared a heart attack!

I was in a true panic and finally conceded to taking the Crestor that my Primary Care Physician had been encouraging me to take for two years. I had resisted in the past because I was already on thyroid medication because of my thyroid cancer and thyroidectomy and Lexapro for all of my menopausal symptoms and all around stress. I ran to get the Crestor prescription.

Making Sense of Conflicting Information

I was now so very confused and felt that I had zero control over my body. I was not working out as much but was eating exactly the same way, primarily very healthfully and the cholesterol jump in numbers terrified me. I wondered about all the information that seemed to conflict.

I read about how full-fat dairy like cheese and milk, etc. had nothing to do with cholesterol and how it was really sugar that caused the increase in cholesterol. Then I had my primary care physician as well as my endocrinologist telling me that I needed to only eat low fat dairy products and lean meats. I even read that I couldn’t eat nuts! Help!

My father had extremely high cholesterol, around 300, and he had a stroke in his early sixties. Could this simply be genetics? At this point, I was doing what I was told because I did not want to have a heart attack or stroke I felt like the decision to take the new meds was now not my decision. I had tried everything i could realistically do within the confines of my lifestyle and I had exhausted all other possibilities aside from medication. 

In a way it was a relief not to have to think about it anymore. The decision was made for me by the elevated cholesterol numbers. Now the A1C….

Diet or Medication?

My numbers remained at 5.8 with no change, so at least I had that going for me. (Although my A1C is considered perfectly respectable and safe by most standards, it turns out it's not the most reliable test anyway. Experts are now calling into question the validity of using it as a diagnostic tool. Learn more by reading this article on EndocrineWeb, a sister publication.)

I continued exercising, eating well, but slowly but surely I couldn't keep away from those stress carbs in the afternoon once the kids got home. It was amazing how I could be so diligent about what I put in my body but only until 4:30-5:00? It was as though I was drawn to the cabinets of carbs at precisely that time of day by some unknown force. 

A nutritionist friend suggested I simply fast during the hours of 4PM-7PM so as not to be tempted during my witching hours. Although I thought it was a brilliant idea, I just couldn’t do it. It seemed that all the will power granted me through my little angel of abstinence—my companion during the early part of the day—gave in to the devil of decadence and delicious Doritos after 4:30.

When I went to my last appointment last week, my cholesterol went down to a more reasonable HDL at 92 and LDL at 78 clearly due to the medication (and it only took 5 months), and my A1C dropped a little to 5.7. It all feels so arbitrary which is so frustrating!

Alma Schneider with friends eating Syrian foodMy friends and I now meet up regularly at a Syrian restaurant in town so as not to be tempted by more decadent options. I recommend going Syrian for healthy eating that is tasty and delicious!

To further reduce my A1C, I am currently trying intermittent fasting which seems to be all the rage at the moment. It may or may not help but it’s worth a shot since my husband lost a lot of weight from it and his A1C went down one point after just 3 months.

This is when you constrict your eating times to an optimal 8 hour window from start to finish, leaving 16 hours of fasting per day. So eating only between the hours of 12-8PM for me. The truth is, I pretty much already do this but maybe I am not vigilant enough...

Could Syrian Food Be the Answer?

I also started lowering my carb intake with my snacks. I discovered a few new products like low carb crackers from Go Raw. They are called Sprouted Organic Flax Snax and there are only 150 calories, 8 grams of carbs, 1 gram of sugar and 5 grams of fiber in each serving. (They give me the crunch I need in a snack.)

Lastly, I have been eating a lot of Syrian food! There’s a new restaurant in my suburban New Jersey town called Le Souk and instead of dining out in less healthy restaurants, I have been meeting my friends there for lunch and using it as a destination for meeting in the evening, too so as not to be tempted by more decadent options. Chowing down on a ton of spiced vegetables and lean protein like chicken may help me in my journey to better health.

Stay tuned for the next blog post to see if any of these changes do the trick!




No comments yet.