I’ve been poking fun at my recent (high) cholesterol test results. My doctor isn’t laughing. And truthfully, I’m not either. More like groaning over letting my genetics catch up with me.
It was about 10 years ago that I first had my cholesterol checked. Much earlier than necessary for the average girl in her 20s, but timely for a girl whose father and his siblings all took Lipitor. At that time, the results pushed me into the Borderline bucket. With a normal BMI, a schedule of regular exercise, and a fine diet, my body was clearly producing too much of the waxy fat for shits and giggles. I made modest dietary changes, my numbers improved, and I’ve largely forgotten about my pesky genetics as subsequent results tended to come out (high, but) acceptable.
With a reprieve from testing last year, I naively assumed I’d beaten my DNA again. All I’d beaten were my last scores. I am now at a High Risk for cardiovascular disease. I seem to treat cholesterol tests the way I look at paper-and-pencil ones: The higher the score, the better.
I can’t be surprised. Today is not 10 years ago. Although there’s more exercise and fibre in my life, I’m a fan of full fat dairy (2% Fage and 4% cottage cheese are consumed daily), and you know I regularly supplement dinners with small mountains of high-class butter. My ice cream scoops are bigger, pizza is now a food group, and sandwiches full of the best cured meats are at my fingertips. My blood runs fatty yellow despite my BMI, activity level, and generally healthy at-home eating.
I have a good dose of skepticism, however, on how big a role cholesterol plays in heart disease. I took a risk calculation survey put out by the National Institutes of Health, and even with my high numbers, all my other lifestyle factors put my 10-year risk at less than one percent. I’m not going to stop eating out, but I could make some changes to the less-fun parts of my diet to reduce my numbers and appease my doctor. Full fat to non-fat, more fish, more soy, more legumes, less cream. A drag, but doable.
What a perfect time to finally try the poke restaurant near work. Fish, avocado, vegetables—a low cholesterol dieter’s dream.
The poke trend I first tried in LA last year at Mainland Poke Shop has FIRMLY taken hold of New York’s fast casual scene. But I’ve been wary. Poke is a natural fit for places where the fish is fresh and the sun is warm. I.e.; its birthplace, Hawaii. I’m not quite sure how I feel about its new place in my concrete jungle. I’ve been scared of the fish quality, especially when I believe that affordable sushi here is nowhere near as good as affordable sushi in LA. Poke bowls are pricier than the ideal $10 office lunch, but they are only a few bucks more. Sons of Thunder near my office has been received more favourably than some others, and my body needed omega 3s and monounsaturated fat, so I splurged one day.
It was fine, but it was no Mainland bowl. I can easily find faults (too-soft fish; hard, clumpy rice; a half teaspoon of tobiko; being nickel and dimed for add-ons), but doesn’t it look pretty? And for the most part, it tasted pretty, it tasted healthy, and it filled me up. It made me feel good about the lunch choice I had made, enough that I could set aside my criticisms to enjoy it in a spacious, quiet room with a large skylight. I might have even forgotten I was in midtown. Well, maybe not. But I’m pretty sure I forgot that I was eating the bowl for my doctor. The white rice and deep-fried garlic krispies definitely helped with that.