But Doc, red wine is good for you!
Published in The Duluth News Tribune
With all the side effects of medications, the last thing I want to do is take any more prescription drugs than is necessary. I’ve been trying my best to follow my doctor’s orders from a year ago to avoid this. Exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and taking my blood pressure medication was a must if I wanted to prevent a stroke. Although she mentioned that my cholesterol levels were on the rise, I chose to ignore that for the time being.
Over the following year, I made a commitment to take my medication, but I stopped paying attention to my bathroom scale. Next thing I knew, I was 20 pounds overweight. I seem to have this chronic condition of gaining over the winter, then fighting to lose it in spring. I wanted a good check-up so I signed up for the on-line version Weight Watchers. It would be the fourth time, in four years.
In Weight Watchers, you are given a total point goal for a day, with some extra point allowances for the week. When I planned for my day, I started with the points I would need for the end of the day; 1 ½ glasses of red wine-6 points, 3/4 cup of pretzel pieces to compliment the wine-12 points. With my total daily points set at 21, I was left with 3 per day.
I researched the lengthy list of zero-point foods to create menus that would provide the nutritional components needed for a healthy balanced diet. The food choices had to be quick, easy, and readily available. Thankfully for me, I’m a creature of habit and don’t need variety, so I stockpiled my fridge with fresh veggies, Light Ranch for dipping the veggies, fresh fruit, and eggs. I considered the creamer in my coffee my own little freebee.
When I finally hit my goal weight two months later, I made an appointment with my doctor. I was looking towards a good report.
The visit started well. Perfect weight. Perfect blood pressure. Then came the blood test results.
“Your cholesterol is starting to creep up,” said the doctor. “Before I prescribe something, tell me about your diet.”
Things went south pretty fast after that. Even though eggs are high in protein, I learned that three to four a day was not good for me. “Maybe try three a week?!” The doctor suggested.
I tried to defend my diet plan, “but I found on the internet that three eggs per day was perfectly safe!”
Then she asked the next damning question, “do you drink alcohol?”
I lied, “one glass of wine . . .” then I added a truthful explanation, “at night. After the daycare kids are gone.”
“Yeah,” she responded with a chuckle. “Based on your weight, a half a glass would be better.”
My life was crumbling.
“I read on the internet that red wine was good for you?! It actually lowers a person’s blood pressure?!”
The doctor countered my findings, but I didn’t hear what she said. I was stuck on wondering what to do with the ½ glass of wine plan. What would be the point of pouring? Had she no empathy?
Still bewildered, she asked, “do you exercise?”
“I used to.” I didn’t think my current plan of running two miles every six weeks or so would qualify me as a runner.
“Thirty minutes, five times a week of cardio exercise may help in lowering that cholesterol number,” the doctor said.
When I thought about my day, and how I already felt overwhelmed with my schedule, I suggested with a hint of sarcasm, “I suppose I don’t have to sleep?!”
She laughed. “No, you need sleep too.”
I left the appointment knowing I’d have to make some changes to my lifestyle. Finding a new zero-point protein source was first on my list. Not satisfied with the options, I turned to the recommendation for adopting an exercise program. Maybe I could balance out the added points of a broader variety of poultry and meats, with exercise?!
With both a stationary incumbent bike and elliptical machine in my basement, I couldn’t use my old excuses of, it’s dark by the time I’m done with work! It’s slippery! There’s a blizzard outside! For me, my only excuse for not exercising is making the time. But I do.
Because . . .
I don’t want to take medications. I don’t want to gain weight. And dang it, I want to be healthy enough to drink just one glass of red wine a day.