When a doctor tells you you have high cholesterol, it comes with a feeling of dread. Does this mean you’re going to have to stop eating all of your favorite foods? Will you have to take medication? Just what does it mean for your long-term health?
Lifestyle changes are always the first step to managing cholesterol, but it can be hard. Cholesterol itself isn’t likely to cause you any major symptoms until it contributes to a major event, like a heart attack or stroke. If you can’t feel something’s wrong, it can be hard to motivate yourself to change your life and the things you enjoy.
The key thing to remember is that you do want to be healthy. This isn’t nothing. High cholesterol levels can cause serious health problems in the long term. If you want to stick around for a while to enjoy your time with friends and family and to make the most of your life, this is something that deserves your attention.
Also, a lifestyle designed to lower cholesterol doesn’t have to be all about deprivation. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Yes, some types of cholesterol are bad for you (LDL), but don’t forget there’s good cholesterol (HDL), too. The best diet is the one that increases your HDL while lowering your LDL.
So, you may need to cut back a bit on the cheese and the butter, but you’re not necessarily going to have to give them up completely. As with many aspects of diet, sometimes the overall amount isn’t as important as the balance. You still need all the nutrients essential to your survival, which means eating a wide range of foods.
Start small. If you’re lucky, you’ll only need tiny lifestyle changes to bring your cholesterol under control. If that doesn’t work, maybe you’ll need to get stricter, but it’s still not time to despair. And if the lifestyle changes aren’t enough on their own and you end up needing medication, well, you’re not the only one. It’s not a sign of failure. Everyone’s different when it comes to what works or doesn’t work.
Motivation to tackle your cholesterol isn’t that different from motivating yourself for other tasks. Set yourself achievable goals, go one step at a time, make sure there are people supporting you, and reward yourself for doing well. You can do it!