Both my husband and I have out of control cholesterol. Out of control good, that is. We've both had ours checked in the last two years and been surprised at the results. My HDL is 80, and while I can't remember the LDL and triglycerides offhand, both were in the 60s or 70s.
My husband's cholesterol surprised me more. He reported to me that his LDL was 39. He's not a physician, so I assumed he got confused and was telling me his HDL because I have literally never seen an LDL that low. But then he showed me the paper and he was right. (His HDL was only 47 though, which he took as a personal offense since he says he eats a lot of peanut butter.) It's weird because neither of us really "deserve" to have good cholesterol based on the way we eat and (to be entirely frank) look, but I guess we're young and have good genes. (At least, good cholesterol genes. The rest is still suspect.)
Sort of the same way doing well on a test makes you want to study more, having good cholesterol makes me want to eat healthier. My husband and I are far from being health nuts. Very far. We've gotten better in the last few years, since my schedule has allowed me to do more home cooking, but we still get fast food probably twice a week. And the fast food isn't, like, a grilled chicken sandwich. My husband gets the Angus bacon burger with approximately 10 million calories, although I get the Southern Style chicken sandwich with only 5 million calories. And other times when we eat out at a restaurant, it isn't healthy stuff either. Although this is way better than in residency, when my personal food pyramid probably would have allotted a large space for the vending machine.
I do try to cook as much as possible. I figure anything I make at home, even the stuff that comes out of a box, is better than eating out. Even TV dinners, which are probably the equivalent of chugging from a salt shaker, are better than eating out, because the portions are way smaller. Whenever I eat out, I usually end up feeling nauseatingly full, whereas I rarely feel that way from home cooking.
These are my extremely easy, working mom strategies to try to be healthier:
1) I buy big bags of frozen vegetables, mainly broccoli, corn, peas, and carrots. Whatever I cook, no matter what it is, I dump a bunch of vegetables in it, and then add less of everything else (i.e. meat, pasta). I'm sure frozen veggies aren't as good as fresh, but I'm not Susie Homemaker and I just don't have time to chop fresh vegetables like I used to do when I was an MS4 (that was the most free time I will ever have in my life again until I retire). I figure even if the veggies have zero nutritional value, they at least take up space and make us eat less of the other stuff.
2) I only use olive oil. It's the only oil in my house. I use it place of any other oil that's been called for in a recipe and there have been no major consequences. I sometimes use it in place of butter, but that's been a little less successful.
3) I buy whole grain rice and bread. My daughter will only eat white rice and bread, but you can buy whole grain white rice and bread, and if you're a trusting sort, you can believe that's just as healthy as the brown stuff. (We compared the ingredients once and it was pretty close, actually.)
4) I drink only water. When I gave up soft drinks a few years ago, I instantly lost like five pounds without making any other changes. The only drink we have in our house right now is milk. I even get water in place of a soft drink at fast food restaurants.
So those are my easy strategies for trying to be healthier. What are yours?