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A new opportunity

Your friends, family, co-workers and even your children are neither licensed nutritionists nor experienced cardiologists who have reviewed your medical history. Alas, their information sources are movies, TV and over sensationalized news articles. So every time someone repeats the “no salt, no fat, no taste” mantra, simply ignore them. Switch on that selective hearing you utilized every time I would ask for the car keys. They have good intentions but their sources are suspect.

Listen to the nutritionist and cardiologist. They both said the same thing, which was “everything in moderation”. They looked at your chart and noted that you had very little damage to the actual heart muscle, that your weight was just fine, that your blood pressure is in reasonable territory and you will be on blood pressure medication from here on out. So although you should seriously consider cutting back on the chopped liver, butter, clotted cream and the like, it would be a tragedy to remove all the joy from eating.

Resolve to cook one dinner a week with Lainy. Leaving the burden to her is unfair. After all she is a liberated woman who long ago traded her apron strings for a power suit and, in the process, has willingly lost touch with the culinary arts. Why should she have to come home from a busy day to prepare your meals just because you’ve got a faulty ticker? And more to the point, I cannot think of a better way to reconnect with your spouse after a busy week than to prepare a meal together on a Friday night. Who knows — it may become a habit. Studies show that marriages are stronger when the spouses take the time to reconnect over dinner. So make the time to choose the menu together (we have plenty for you to peruse), divide up the responsibilities like shopping and prepping, and enjoy the process.

Lunch is a problem. There is little around your office but fast food and greasy diners. The food is not that good and certainly not worth the unsaturated fat content. So my advice would be to hire a private chef – sort of. Having your own chef show up at the company kitchen may do more damage to employee morale than back dating your stock options, but there are several diet plans and chef services that can deliver healthy prepared meals at a reasonable price. Your co-workers will be jealous of nothing more than your svelte figure and boundless energy, and you will get a pretty good guilt-free meal.

Restaurants can be your enemy or your best friend. Portions are too damn big just like everything else in America. Friends of mine went to France recently and were convinced they were being treated like clueless tourists. Why else were their plates so small? The French waiters and kitchen staff still miffed about the “freedom fries” dispute were having a good laugh at the Americans. Then they realized that everyone’s plates were small. The French eat less and perhaps that’s the secret to the so-called French paradox. So when you dine out, order the appetizer portion, share a main course with Lainy, or have the waiter put half in a to-go box before they serve you.

Chefs want their food to taste good. They’re not thinking about sodium content, saturated fats and portion control. It’s not their job, its yours. Ask questions and don’t make assumptions. Just because a fish is broiled doesn’t mean that they are not dumping generous slaps of butter on top of it. But they will work with you if you ask. Waiters can guide you to the healthier selections and chefs will lay off certain ingredients provided you ask. After all, they want their customers to be happy.

Avoid foods high in saturated fats. Your guideline prescribed by your nutritionist is no more than 14 grams of saturated fat a day. The official guideline is “less than 7% of the day’s total calories from fats.” Either way, one small container of Haagen Daz hits that mark faster than a speeding bullet, but there are lots of great alternatives. Simply reading the information on the packaging will go a long way. Applying a little common sense will also help. Liver, sweetbread, rib eye steak, cream, butter, French fries and whole milk should all be eaten in moderation. But most important is that you do not obsess about food. If anything, studies show that resolving to diet or restrict foods too often only results in the opposite. So apply common sense. Don’t obsess about salmon having more fat than halibut. Simply eat a balanced diet. That includes 3 ounces of protein, ¼ lb of vegetable and ⅓ to ¼ lb starch.

  • Meat portions should be 3 ounces or about the size of your average cell phone. (No, getting a larger cell phone is not the answer.)
  • Fish portions should also be 3 ounces and can be eaten twice a week.
  • Avoid heavy sauces, heavy salad dressings, cream-based soups.
  • Eat lots of fresh produce.
  • Vegetables taste best when fresh and steamed or par-boiled and won’t need fancy sauces.
  • Use Olive Oil and Canola Oil for cooking and in moderation.
  • Eat dessert once a week. It tastes better when it is an occasional treat. Fresh fruit is always a great alternative as you know.

Avoid anything that says “diet” or “healthy” because most times they aren’t. Don’t let marketing overrule common sense. A “healthy” cookie is still a cookie and just because they put diet in the label doesn’t mean that it will make you lose weight. The best solution is to

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