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High Cholesterol runs in my family.  I always knew that one day it would catch up to me. A few weeks ago I got the wake up call that I guess I needed–my numbers are up and it’s time to clean up the diet.

Life in your mid 40’s raising kids means meals on the go during sports practice…over indulging on date night…and a few too many slices of birthday cake 🙂 It adds up.

After talking to my doctor, I started a medication to lower my LDL. I had a bad reaction–muscle aches and cramps that made me feel like someone gave me a beat down and threw me off of a cliff.  I knew that this was not a solution for me.

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The research on heart disease and high cholesterol is divisive. Depending on the study, some say that total cholesterol is not a determining factor for heart disease. Others argue that high cholesterol increases the risk. Statin drugs that reduce LDL cholesterol come with their own risks: increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes, risk of increased plaque in the arteries, and muscle pain.

I had a calcium score test done to measure plaque in my heart. The test found zero evidence of atherosclerosis. This is very good news! Still, with my family history of heart disease–prevention is key.  It is time to pay attention to what I eat to make sure that I stick around for my family.

I know for sure that the only way to reduce my risk and potentially  reverse heart disease is by eliminating animal products. I’ve been meat and dairy free for the most part for one week. The only concession that I have allowed myself is to choose the healthiest option while eating out –I won’t live on lettuce or plain pasta! I’ve been able to stay vegan other than a salmon salad at a pub.

After a week–my aches and muscle pains from the statins have gone.  I’m working to plan my meals and still feed my family. It takes a lot of mindfulness, but they are all very supportive.  We talk a lot about animal welfare and the effects of meat based diets on the earth. The kids know that eating less animal foods is better for everyone.  They have impressed me by trying out some new foods and encouraging me when I struggle.

I won’t lie–I get hungry at times and eat a half a cup of nuts. Protein and fat are things that I have to think about. Yesterday for lunch, I ate an entire avocado with veggie burgers because I was craving texture after a week of beans, grains, and vegetables.

I have blood work again in a few months. I hope to see significant change.