Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lesson learned.

I got a text today from Frank saying that his older brother had a heart attack this morning. He's okay (if he wasn't, I'm sure I would have gotten more than a text, ha) meaning he's alive, but he'll be in the hospital for a few days while they run tests and decide what to do. He was having chest pains for a few days and thought he had a heart attack early this morning, so he went into the hospital. Sure enough, there was a 99% blockage in the main artery to his heart. They put a balloon to open up the artery but i'm not sure what's next. He's young, in his early 30's, and has three kids and a wife.

Frank's dad died of a heart attack several years ago, and he was way too young. Heart disease runs on both sides of his family so it's not something we can ignore. It's awful that this happened to his brother, but it was a wake up call to me that we're not doing enough. Frank works out like a beast, but that's not enough to prevent heart disease. When I cook, we eat pretty healthy, but we're in the habit of going out to eat on the weekends and usually at least once during the week, including Tuesday night wings and beer. He has night class two days a week and has gotten into the habit of taking frozen diet meals for dinner. Sure, low in calories, but packed with sodium. 

Being a widow at a young age is not an option for me. Sorry, it's not happening. But that means that I need to seriously change the way that I feed my family (aka . . . the two of us). Eating healthy during the week and then pigging out on the weekends is not good enough. There are too many times were we say "we'll eat bad just this once" but we need to realize that EVERY meal counts. I wish I could say that I love health food and hate fried foods, but i don't. I love ALL food. Particularly greasy, salty fast food and sweets. But I'm a grown up now, and I need to realize that just because you want something doesn't mean you can have it. 

Right after I heard about his brother, I called our family doctor and scheduled a physical for Frank and told the doctor we wanted to talk about early heart disease testing so we can stay on top of things. I also did a bunch of research online about preventing heart disease. I knew most of these things already, but i printed out a list of rules to stick on the refrigerator, so that we're always reminded of them. Here they are:
  • No excess salt
  • No red meat 
  • No fried foods
  • No bacon :(
  • No chips/cookies etc. that contain "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients
  • No egg yolks
  • No cold cuts
  • No hot dogs or sausage
  • More fruits and veggies (5-10 servings per day)
  • More whole grains
  • No more than 2300 mg sodium per day
  • Avoid tomato juices, soy sauce, buffalo sauce etc (sodium)
I found all of this information from the Mayo Clinic web site, so i'm taking it to heart. This doesn't mean that he can never have another burger again, just that we need to seriously limit these things. Feel free to call me out if you have kids, but I'm thinking that it will actually be easier to eat healthy when we have kids because we won't be going out to eat as much and we'll want to set healthy examples for our kids. I'm also thinking about relying more on vegetarian meals and plant-based proteins. Neither one of us are willing to go full-veg, but reducing the amount of animal fats we eat can only help. 

I'm going to try to start cooking more, and packing Frank's meals for while he's at work and school. I'll post good recipes in here as I find them. 

Have any more tips for me?


  1. Wishing a speedy recovery for Franks brother!
    Heart disease runs in my boyfriends family too and he eats like CRAP. I'm gonna say he eats out for like 95% of his meals, and it drives me crazy!! Not to mention the insane amount of money that costs. I think it would be easier if we lived together, because we like cooking together, but I'm always on his case to actually DO GROCERIES!

  2. Thanks! That's how Frank was while we were in college. I think living together and then getting married definitely helps because you can cook together and you both want to save money, etc. So its probably just a temporary lifestyle!