From great to…not so much

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel by Steve Estes

I have finally found a reason to be able to eat anything I want on Thanksgiving Day.

I can eat almost any traditional Thanksgiving fare and it will be within the parameters of the diet I have been on for about six months.

Earlier this year I had to undergo a panel of blood tests for a routine purpose and I was quite surprised when my cholesterol numbers came back exceedingly high.

Blood numbers have never been a problem for me at any time in my life. Neither has blood pressure, which has always hovered around the too low range and is just now beginning to steadily creep into the normal range.

So the cholesterol numbers gave me quite the shock.

I’m not one to enjoy taking medications, so I took to the medical books and websites looking for some way to lower my cholesterol numbers without getting a prescription from the doctor.

Most of the information I gathered, including phone calls from some friendly doctors, gave me pretty much the same information about diets aimed at helping lower high cholesterol without the need for medications.

So I embarked on what for me was a momentous diet in an attempt to get this purported killer number back within reason.

The first thing I had to give up was Mountain Dew. I found during my research that the sodium in Mountain Dew, to say nothing of the sugar and caffeine content, would drive up that cholesterol number in short order.

I have to admit I was a Mountain Dew junkie. It was nothing for me to put away four or five bottles a day. I had it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and every snack.

But I also had to give up red meat and fried foods. That meant no hamburgers or French fries. Anyone who knows me will understand that those two foods were the staple of my diet for more than two decades. I once had a goal to sample every hamburger from every establishment in the Florida Keys, and had managed to work my way through dozens of them before I got the news that burgers were no longer acceptable.

So I resigned myself to long, boring meals of roast turkey, grilled chicken and baked fish or seafood, with green vegetables and salads on the side, and potatoes that had only been cooked using some kind of water, or baked.

Oatmeal became a regular in my morning diet…and I have never been a morning eater, just a breakfast eater. I would have eggs for dinner two or three times a week, as well as for a couple of lunches. Bacon….oh yeah. Sausage….pile it on.

But then they were gone, fallen prey to that elusive blood number known as cholesterol.

All my snacks were fruit or unbuttered, unsalted popcorn, both of which I like anyway, so that wasn’t a big deal.

After about two months on this diet meant to reduce my cholesterol numbers, I began to notice that my pants were beginning to fall down at unseemly times. I had to go and buy a belt. I didn’t own one. After four months, I had to buy new shorts, and still wear a belt.

I keep a drawer full of t-shirts with imprints on them that some would find offensive, I call them mine, but most of them had languished in that drawer for years. I couldn’t get them to cover my ever-increasing waistline.

After three months, I could drag any shirt out of the drawer and put it on without feeling as though I was fighting against a straitjacket.

The cholesterol diet was cutting big time weight. I didn’t set out to do that, but I didn’t mind the bonus.

And thus I approach my first Thanksgiving since the inception of the diet licking my chops in anticipation.

Roast turkey is on my diet. Mashed potatoes, without butter or milk, are on my diet. Stuffing is on my diet. Fresh vegetables are on my diet.

I can, for the first time in years, wander up and down the buffet table at Thanksgiving to my heart’s content, loading my plate with all the foods I love during this holiday season.

And I won’t have to feel guilty because all of those foods are on my diet.

Well, nearly all.

I’ll have to stay away from the deviled eggs and mustard potato salad, and the apple pie, and the buttered dinner rolls, and the……

Aw heck. I think I just ruined my first post-diet Thanksgiving meal.

I’ll probably just take some dry turkey and mashed potatoes and sit in the corner watching everyone else enjoy the eats.

Anyway…Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Eat hearty.

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