Problems with new eating guidelines

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Problems with new eating guidelines
9
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 7:01am
Anyone else recently diagnosed with coronary artery disease, have a heart attack, etc. and need to change your eating habits? I didn't think my diet was so bad, but after nutrition class I see a lot of changes ahead. It's kind of discouraging, I used to eat a fair amount of beef and cheese, I don't like fish all that much, and how many times a week can a person have chicken?

I know I've got more serious issues to worry about than planning dinner, but this is kind of looming right now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 6:34pm
Thanks for sharing your experiences. How awful that you weren't diagnosed for so long.

I'm dealing with things a bit better now. At the beginning, everything is so overwhelming, and new, and it's hard to know where to start, and it's such a chore to have to think about everything and start from scratch about what to buy and cook and eat. Now I'm starting to get into some habits and routines -- I can't say I like them as much as my previous eating habits, but I'm getting used to them.

At least peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread appears acceptable -- that seems like a treat! I found a few of the recipes I used to like to cook that are still OK, as well as some vegan frozen entrees that are good. Little by little, step by step, I guess. And I'm splurging on some really nice sweet fresh fruit.

I go for a stress test in a couple of weeks, the first one since I was diagnosed last month, and I'm a bit nervous about it but hope it will all go fine.

Thanks again Marty, and everyone else here.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 11:22am
Welcome to the world of CAD (Coronary Artery Disease). I had a should-have-been fatal heart attack at the age of 43 (3 weeks shy of age 44, had by pass surgery the day after birthday) and was not diagnosed for 17 days because I am a woman, and my age. All of that left me with Chronic Congestive Heart Failure (a/k/a CHF)and only 1/3 of my heart still alive and funtioning, thus, I am disabled due to the fact that I tire very easily. I am now age 52 and have been living with all of this (and more that I won't go into) for 9 years. The diet is strict and unforgiving. The #1 thing that has helped my cholesterol has been switching from margarine to Benecol, and switching from vegetable oil to olive oil or canola oil. These are considered to be GOOD fats, the kind your body needs.

As far as the beef goes, I use the 97% lean ground beef and drain off any fat that cooks out of it. I only eat beef twice a week now as opposed to the 5 times a week I used to have it. I don't care for ground chicken or ground turkey in place of the beef. I would rather spend more on lower fat beef and have the beef flavor and eat it less often. I also despise all of the mayo. substitutes, so I use it VERY sparingly, to just barely hold the tuna together or to just barely cover the toast for a turkey sandwich. I actually have come to like the deli turkey breast with mustard and sandwich pickle on a good multi-grain bread (the kind of bread we should eat). I eat oatmeal for breakfast every day and it also helps to lower the cholesterol. Fresh fruits, and vegs., along with the high fiber breads and cereals when combined with some exercise will help too. Good luck to you!

Have some self pity, as you were told, we do really need that too however, if you get too blue and can't get out of it don't wait too long to ask your doc for an anti-depressant. They take a month to begin to work, and that would be too long if you put off seeing the doc for it.

I also have family history on both sides of family, bot parents died of heart attacks and I inherited the worst of the genes. Ironically of the 6 girls and 3 boys in our family (youngest is now age 42) it is the girls who are having the trouble! 3 of us have had episodes, mine being the worst which tipped everyone else off and caused them to run to their doctors. The other 2 have high blood pressure, one had to get a valve fixed and the other has angina.

Sorry I posted so late, haven't been in for a few days now. Marty

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 11:51am
Thanks for the welcome, Linda. Goodness, I feel like the "ole gal" around here, when it comes to heart disease. You were so very young, also. I thought I was pretty safe for a few years. My Mom had high blood pressure when she was in her late 30's. I was in my late 50's and it was just borderline. No medication yet. She was 84 when she had open heart surgery. So I figured I had years to think about all of this.

So I would say, yes, take time to slip into some self pity.(we all need to do that once in a while. ) But then we have to jump back up and start taking care of ourselves, or we will be in real trouble. I go through such guilt now when I eat something I shouldn't. I'm told I need to get over that. But the memories of open heart still haunt me.

I went to a nutritionist while I was in cardio rehab. She didn't really tell me anything I didn't know already. Don't know if she wasn't that informed or I have been doing too much reading on the internet. LOL! But I didn't find it to be of much everyday use.

So, to make it easy for me, I try to stay with the basics. Whole foods, and as plan as possible. If anyone has figured out any new ways to do this, I'm always open to suggestions.

Again, thanks for the welcome.

Susan

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Sat, 04-05-2003 - 7:30am
Yes, you guessed it, there is some family history, but not a parent or sibling having heart problems earlier than their 60s. A grandfather did, but that's a man! I figured I'd be at risk sometime after menopause, not while still having my periods every 4 weeks like clockwork. So much for women developing heart disease 10-15 years later than men do. (Although hmmmm, if I was a man, would that mean I would have had this in my 30s or late 20s?

My cardiologist referred me to a nutritionist. I've gone to see her once so far, she was good and nice and helpful, and it was after the session with her that I got kind of depressed. Perhaps after seeing all the changes I need to make in my diet to eat heart-healthy, I should admit that my nutrition habits were certainly not one of the things I was doing right before all this happened (even though I was exercising and not smoking and wasn't overweight). For an average American I think I ate reasonably well -- didn't do the fast food or deep fried things much, but I did eat a lot of other things that aren't so good. And the average American diet is still pretty bad.

The big news to me in all this so far is the trans fats, I didn't know about those before and that they can be even worse for you than saturated fats and cholesterol in your diet. I'm really trying to cut most of those out, but boy that does mean kissing most of my favorite packaged sweets goodbye.

I've also bought a bunch of books (one on nutrition that my doctor recommended, the rest are heart-healthy cookbooks). I've found some good new recipes, but it's hard saying goodbye to so many of my old favorites. It's also hard to have to worry about planning and preparing so many meals, even though I'm very lucky that DH shares the shopping and cooking. We lived on take-in a lot.

They implanted one stent (in the proximal LAD), and I'm on some medications for that, also a cholesterol-lowering drug. It'll be another month or more before they do a new test to see whether my levels have gone down.

I know that I'm very lucky this was found and treated before it got worse. I know there are people here who had worse conditions at younger ages. And I do need to stop complaining. But right now I just need a brief pause to wallow in a little self pity before I pick myself up and move on to my new reality.

Thanks for the welcome and support, Sooz and Linda!

Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 9:24pm
Welcome, Sooz!

Good advice to the above post! You know, I don't think many of us DO give much thought to the whole diet thing....until we HAVE to! I answered islanddreams on post 5 (I think that's right! LOL!).....when I had my heart attack at the age of 36, I went to see a good nutritionist. Best thing I ever did for myself....and my family!

Welcoming (((hugs))),

Linda.

Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 9:17pm
Welcome, Islanddreams!

Oh boy....do I ever hear what you're saying! I was 36 when I had my heart attack.....and had 6 little kids to feed, as well as a DH who LOVED all the fatty things I USED to cook! The best thing I ever did for myself was to go to see a nutritionist! Seriously! I didn't like ALL the suggestions that she gave me....OR all the recipes either! But, after incorporating some of her ideas into the daily meals, it started to get a lot easier...and I still use a lot of her suggestions!

If you haven't done so already.....see a good nutritionist! Usually there's one at your local hospital, or your cardiologist can recommend one! It'll REALLY help! Let me know what you decide to do, okay?

Welcoming (((hugs))),

Linda.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 7:01pm
Hi,

Wow, your so young to have this problem. When this first happened to me I NEEDED information. So I came on line and read everything I could about heart disease. I found the biggest fear was not knowing. So information helped me alot. I also found that most woman are....what I consider........young. I was 58, and thought I was way to young for this. Ha! I joined a support message board and found I was the oldest one there. Pretty shocking to me.

You are just beginning to deal with this food issue. I've been playing with it for more then a year and I'm still struggling. Hopefully, you'll be more imaginative then I am. LOl! I have found that simple is best, for me. I'm not big on veggies either. But, I'm getting better. I always, as i said, start with a salad, then try and do two veg. with a *small* portion of meat. Plan, no grays, sauces. I use olive oil only. Skim milk. I try everything that is *fat free*. If I can't handle it, then I go to low fat.

Do you have family history of heart disease? Did they do stents with the angioplasty? What medications do they have you on? Goodness, sorry, I'm just full of questions.

Just know you are not alone with this. I'm sure many of us are struggling.

Susan

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 5:29pm
Thanks for answering! I'm new at this -- in my early 40s, just diagnosed with CAD last month and had angioplasty a few weeks ago. I'm not overweight, never smoked and exercised daily (started getting angina pains while exercising, which is what prompted the diagnosis). Blood pressure's fine, but cholesterol is what I've seen called "borderline high" -- over 200 but less than 230. Really the only thing I have control over is changing my eating, since I already was doing all the other things I was supposed to be doing. (For all the good it did me, but I won't get started on THAT rant.)

And yes, that's a big part of it, I can't STAND having to THINK THIS MUCH ABOUT FOOD. Looking at ingredients, trying to plan out if we're going to visit friends for dinner, if I'll be able to eat anything. Not to mention giving up many of the things that I used to eat often (pizza, beef). Having to bring in lunch to work most days because there's not much I can buy at the local lunch spots. Ditching many of my favorite recipes which have too much butter or high-fat cuts of beef. I haven't found many substitutes I like as much yet. Having to think about having multiple servings of vegetables every day (I love fruit, but could go weeks without dark leafy green veggies and not miss 'em). I guess I'll get into new habits eventually, but right now this is all pretty new and overwhelming.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Fri, 04-04-2003 - 2:03pm
Hi,

I have CAD, had a heart attack, and bypass surgery in the last year and a half. And the biggest challange for me has been food. I easily started exercising, (not so easily,quit smoking), but food has been so hard for me. And it is a huge part of staying as heart healthy as possible.

It's still a struggle for me. But I try to eat whole grains, lots of fruits and vegtables, and more fish and chicken then beef. I slip a lot. (I love sweets.) But I make sure I make a salad EVERY night. That gets me started in the right direction.

I think it is also hard for me because I hate having to give this much thought to food. I have never been a big eater, or had a problem with weight.......so I just didn't give it that much thought. ( I suppose I was eating all the wrong things. )

Anyway, I can understand your concerns. Any would love to hear how you are dealing with this. Maybe a bit of your heart history also.

Sooz