336 & The Art of Simple Food (The Diet, Days 1-5)

On Saturday (Day 1), I went to get a blood test to measure my cholesterol, and the pastrami sandwich from Friday told me that it was probably going to be ridiculously high – not because a meal the day before affects your cholesterol so drastically, but because I had eaten a pastrami dip from The Hat and that wasn’t too uncommon of an indulgence.  The result: 336.  For reference, here’s what the American Heart Association says:

Your Total Blood (or Serum) Cholesterol Level

Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable
If your LDL, HDL and triglyceride levels are also at desirable levels and you have no other risk factors for heart disease, total blood cholesterol below 200 mg/dL puts you at relatively low risk of coronary heart disease.

200–239 mg/dL: Borderline-High Risk 
If your total cholesterol falls between 200 and 239 mg/dL, your doctor will evaluate your levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol and triglycerides. It’s possible to have borderline-high total cholesterol numbers with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol balanced by high HDL (good) cholesterol.

240 mg/dL and over: High Risk 
People who have a total cholesterol level of 240 mg/dL or more typically have twice the risk of coronary heart disease as people whose cholesterol level is desirable (200 mg/dL).

And so the diet begins.  But five days in and I’m already fighting off urges.  The convenience of driving to the burger joint down the street.  The satisfaction of devouring a prime rib.  The food coma.  I went home on Sunday afternoon only to find that my parents had eaten a Taiwanese breakfast and in front of me, basking in an aura of deliciousness, was a chinese donut (it was a yeo tiau, for my Mandarin-speaking people).  I thought to myself, “Self, who’s going to know if you take a bite out of this thing.  Just a small bite won’t do anything.”  But I resisted the urge, and four days later, I’m still thinking about it.

Chinese Doughnut

The Art of Simple Food
It’s not all desperate pining for fried goodies though – there have been some brighter moments.  I finally started training in the art of making risotto.  For instruction, I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks at the moment: Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food.

Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution

For any aspiring cook/chef or even a hobbyist such as myself, I think this book is a must-have.  Chef Waters explains every step thoroughly and makes the process clear to the reader, including common pitfalls, beneficial tips, and suggestions on making each recipe your own.  Here’s the link to it on Amazon.

Even though my risotto has been suffering from being a bit too gooey, the taste has been rather satisfying.  My stomach, however, doesn’t feel the same way my taste buds do, and two hours later, I’m usually hungry for something else.  So far, I’ve been able quell my stomach with an apple or an orange, but I don’t know how long that can last.

Progress Report
I am happy to report that I have stuck to my guidelines through five days, particularly including the 1 cup of fruit and 1 cup of veg, and as long as I can have a short memory of the things I’ve eaten, I should be able to stay on track.


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