The physical was supposed to be routine, so I was shocked when the doctor said some test results concerned her.
She opened up the chart. “The triglyceride level is elevated, see?” she said. “And here, the LDL is high.”
In layman’s terms, she explained, “High cholesterol.” For someone like me who has always struggled with her weight, test results like that were to be expected. But I wasn’t at the doctor for my physical. This wasn’t my chart.
It was my 18-year-old son’s. Athletic, lean, muscular, college-bound Andy. “You sure you have his chart and not mine?” I asked. I looked at Andy. He didn’t seem too worried. I was. I had high cholesterol and I knew it increased your risk of heart disease. How could this happen to Andy?
Actually, I knew the answer. Andy played basketball and baseball on his school teams and pickup games of just about every other sport with his friends, but he’d never been a healthy eater. In the morning, he got going with fried eggs, stacks of crisp bacon and butter-slathered toast. He’d come home after games wanting grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets or pizza
The only greens I’d seen him touch were cans of Mountain Dew. I blamed myself. To lower my cholesterol, I’d changed my diet to low-fat yogurt, skim milk, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. I hadn’t changed Andy’s though. I saw how he scrunched his face at my bran cereal.
I drove away from the doctor’s, shaken. Soon Andy would be at college. How could I teach my son healthy eating in a few months when I hadn’t been able to in eighteen years?
Back home, I went downstairs to do a load of laundry. I fished in Andy’s bat bag for his dirty uniform, fanning away the smell of sweat. I pulled out his spikes, his batting gloves, his helmet. Finally I dug out his Under Armour, a special T-shirt he wore under his jersey to keep him cool and dry.
I stared at the pile of stuff in front of me. Just some of the equipment my husband, Mike, and I had bought over the years. It had cost a bundle and we hadn’t even been sure Andy would use all of it. But we’d gotten it all to help him be at his best on the ball field. Lord, why did we equip him so well for baseball, but not his health? I promise to try and teach him to eat better. But help me!
I went to the supermarket, picking only healthy items. Whole wheat. Low fat. Mike helped me put away the groceries. He knew the plan, but when he saw the super-size box of bran cereal, he gave me a skeptical look. I sighed. “You’re right. How can I get Andy to eat this stuff?”
“Well…why not make healthier versions of the food he already likes?” Mike said.
Good idea, I thought.
The next morning, Andy wandered into the kitchen, “Have time for breakfast?” I asked.
“I guess,” he yawned. “We have any doughnuts?”
“How about a breakfast sandwich?”
“Sure,” he said.
I handed him an English muffin and said, “Pop these slices in the toaster.”
He eyed them suspiciously. “What’s wrong with these? They’re brown.”
“It’s whole wheat,” I said. “You’ll like it.” I hope.
Andy shook his head as I misted the pan with cooking spray. Healthier than butter, I explained. Time for eggs—whites only. Andy watched me separate an egg, pouring the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, letting the white spill into a bowl. Then he gave it a try. Bits of shell fell in, but he kept the yolk out. “Good job!” I said. “It just takes practice.”
I gave Andy a slice of low-fat cheese and he topped the egg as it sizzled. Then we cooked the turkey bacon. Andy stacked the strips on top of the egg, cheese and English muffin. “It looks almost the same,” he admitted. I said a prayer as he bit in. “Hmm…” he mumbled, chewing slowly, “not bad…I could make this at school.” It wasn’t too late! He could pick this up.
“Maybe next you’ll eat broccoli.”
“Now, Mom,” Andy said, giving his stomach a satisfied pat, “let’s not get carried away.”
For the time being, at least. But you never know what you can do with prayer and a good shopping list.
Try making Andy’s Big Breakfast Sandwich yourself!