Apples, pears, pineapples, bananas, oranges are on my fruit menu this week for cholesterol reduction. So far, I’ve had baked apples for dessert (stuffed with nuts & chocolate), had pineapple pear-mint smoothies, as well as loads of apples and oranges for snacks and smoothies.
How do you make a food based change? Start with your shopping list. This is exactly what I did back in September 2011, when I was first diagnosed with Familial hypercholesterolemia. I eat from the shopping lists below roughly 90% of the time. It’s my eating foundation (and as a side note – a good clear out of any existing “bad foods” that are currently in your house is a good place to start as well.)
At the beginning, when you’re changing up your diet to get healthier in general (which will naturally reduce your cholesterol), the only thing you have to really think about is, well… starting. Don’t worry about “not eating perfectly”. Don’t obsess over every little detail or whether you are eating “the absolute best diet”. Just find and commit to any programme that is “healthier than what you’re eating right now.” For the first few months, that’s all that’s required. You can fine tune after your body has gotten used to eating in the new way. For now, just start taking action. It’s what you do every day consistently that counts.
So here’s 2 steps to stack the odds in your favor of eating healthily
- Non-perishable items: Go and stock your pantry with everything non-perishable that you’ll need to prepare most standard cholesterol friendly recipes. These are oils, nuts, grains, beans, spices, condiments, snacks, sweeteners and superfoods etc. (see Shopping List part 2).
- Perishable items: Buy these perishable things below every week.
For now, just shop from these two lists of non-perishable and perishable items that aid in lowering your cholesterol
Later, you can tweak and fine tune, as you learn more about each item. There are other things you can eat – but not until you have successfully managed to eat this way for 3 months.
Hint: Don’t use anything other than these ingredients
Notice there are no packaged foods on this list. Just in case it wasn’t clear. The items you are about to read below are your “raw ingredients’ – pun intended. This is your new set of tools with which to create amazing and tasty creations. There is nothing else you need to eat very, very well.
No breads, no cookies, no pastas or rice. No packaged sauces, etc. No dairy – for now. It can be reintroduced later in smaller amounts. There are also some packaged foods that are wonderful – and you can look for these later, once your knowledge is higher, but for now, get to know the raw ingredients that will help you heal your body (because if your cholesterol is high, then your body is in need of healing – it is injured / sick / out of balance).
Remind yourself daily: On your current “eating programme” your arteries are being damaged on a daily basis.
That’s why we’re changing our eating patterns – to heal ourselves. Remind yourself of this, when some chips or pretzels are passed under your nose. Or when you’re offered a piece of cake or a latte. It is truly amazing how much healing you can do in 3 months – you will soon see.
Nothing done forever is fun, and eating one way is no exception. While I’m sure you’ll come to feel amazing and L-O-V-E the new way of eating. It’s important to let your hair down once a week. If you eat this way the rest of week, and have only 1 cheat day a week, you will be well on your way to the LDL promised land! So have that spaghetti bolognese, chocolate cake, or pepperoni pizza – but only on your cheat day!
THE WEEKLY SHOP:
Stock your pantry and fridge with the following things
P R O T E I N :
Besides fish, I think of protein like the items below as a condiment. I eat it, but I eat it in smaller quantities, and often cut up and mixed into a soup, stew, stir-fry etc. Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines on the other hand – I try to eat as much as I can for the Omega 3’s and inflammation-lowering effects, which are excellent in helping with cholesterol reduction. All the meats that I eat are organic, grass fed (not grain-fed), and in the case of Salmon – wild and Alaskan. Farmed salmon that is grain-fed is not healthy (just like grain-fed animals are not healthy).
- Salmon (2 x a week minimum)
- Mackerel or Sardines (1 x a week)
- Eggs (3-6 a week is fine)
- Lean red meat (1 x a week tops – make sure it’s “grass fed”)
- Chicken (1-2 x a week)
V E G E T A B L E S :
You’ll need a lot of veg in your shoppng basket. When I do my weekly shop, I carry home 3-4 large bags full of veg from my local farmer’s market for my partner and I. Think about your green smoothies, and make sure you buy a lot of veg. It will inspire you to eat more when you see it staring at you every day!
Eat as many vegetables as you want. The ones below are particularly good, but all veg is great for you, except potatoes and corn, which contribute to raising cholesterol via their high GI levels).
- Cilantro (Coriander)
- Eggplant (Aubergine)
- Green beans
- Red peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Zucchini (Courgette)
F R U I T :
You will also want to be eating a lot of very tasty fruit. Some for your smoothies, and more to snack on.
- Apples (1/day minimum)
- Apricots (raw)
- Apricots dried (the only dried fruit I recommend. 1-2 a day for iron.
- Bananas (go easy – as they have a lot of sugar)
- Blackberry or blueberries (1/2 cup / day minimum)
- Citrus Fruits
- Dates (go easy, use in recipes)
- Mango (go easy – high sugar)
I obviously don’t need to buy everything above, every week – so how do I decide which perishable items to buy?
First off, you will always need kale, spinach, avocados and apples for your green smoothies. Add those to your shopping list automatically. From there, I usually pick one of my raw or vegetable cook books each week, and then go through the book like a menu thinking about what appeals to my appetite.
Use a cookbook and some sticky notes
Take one of your healthy cookbooks, and have sticky notes in hand. Just put a sticky note on the page of the recipe that you want to make that week. Once you’ve picked about 5 to 7 recipes, go back and create your shopping list from the recipes. Try to pick recipes that sample from a variety of produce. A typical week might look like:
- Pan fried kale with garlic and anchovy butter served with salmon
- Stir fried broccoli and chicken with quinoa
- Slow cooked red cabbage with apple served with Mackerel
- Pearl barley risotto with butter beans, mint and garlic
- Tomato, red onion, cilantro and avocado salad
- Carrot, coriander and ginger soup
- Tomato “puttanesca” pasta sauce over zucchini “noodles”
- Chocolate-date mousse
- Baked pears poached in red wine and chocolate sauce
- You get the picture -a variety of different coloured vegetables are chosen to round out your vitamins and minerals that you are getting from your food.
When I do this, often I will choose recipes that are vegetable dishes, and then simply add some grilled chicken or fish to my plate to round out my meal. Other times, I will pick a soup or stew that has the protein included in it. Job done, I know what I’m eating that week, and then each weeknight, I know I can pull out my recipe and be confident I have all the ingredients on hand to make it. I also often double recipes so that I can take leftover with me to work for lunch. Easy, yummy and efficient. Love it!
p.s. Click here for Part 2 of the cholesterol lowering shopping list.