DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure, and my doctor told me to stay away from salty foods. I have been doing that. I haven't told any of my friends or co-workers because I want to deal with my health challenges in my own way. I don't think it should be any of their business, quite frankly, but that's where I'm having some difficulty. I go out to eat with my co-workers several days a week. It's a nice ritual that we have developed over the years, except that where we usually eat has really salty food. It's actually very difficult to find anything particularly healthy on the menu. I don't know how I can change my eating habits and keep going to these greasy holes with them, but I don't want to tell them about my condition. I guess in part I'm a little embarrassed. Whatever. I want to keep my privacy, keep my friends and improve my health. What can I do? -- Blood Boiling, Detroit
DEAR BLOOD BOILING: Your doctor likely also told you that in order to improve your health significantly, you will have to change your habits. You already know that you cannot continue to eat out at the same places several days a week and consume unhealthy food if you want to lower your blood pressure. You have to eat differently.
Until you feel comfortable, you do not have to tell your co-workers about your health condition, but you can tell them that you have decided to get healthier. Tell them that you have made a pledge to yourself and that it includes eating better. Ask if anyone is interested in doing this, too. Suggest alternative places to eat out together. Change your pattern entirely by preparing your lunch and bringing it from home. This will enable you to control exactly what goes into your body.
You may not be able to dine with your friends as frequently, which doesn't mean you are forsaking them. It means you are choosing you.