If you want to lower your cholesterol over the next thirty days, avoid buying prepared or pre-packaged food, whether from grocery stores or restaurants. Brown-bag your lunch and arrange to meet friends somewhere else besides a restaurant. If you need to eat at a restaurant, choose the smallest portions of the plainest foods available. This is better than ordering the salad, assuming that it will be healthier – a salad packed with bacon bits and cheese can sometimes be among the highest-fat items on a menu!
Instead, choose dishes that seem to have low-fat elements – such as skinless chicken or fruits. Ask for dressings on the side and eat around any high-fat items such as cheese. Avoid cream sauces.
You don’t need to completely change the way you shop over the next thirty days in order to lower your cholesterol, but stopping by the farmer’s market once a week and avoiding convenience stores and restaurants will make it that much easier to find a terrific variety of fresh heart-healthy foods that you will enjoy eating. After all, how good your diet is depends on the ingredients you put into your food.
How you shop can be as important as where you shop. Taking a few simple steps can make it easier for you to choose foods that will help you lower your cholesterol:
1) Shop for food once a week. Plan your menu for each week ahead of time and select one day a week for food shopping. This will minimize the amount of time you spend thinking about food and will reduce the chances that you forget items or overshop (and overeat).
2) Shop after eating. Shopping on an empty stomach will encourage impulsive buying. Your willpower will also be at its weakest when you are hungry, making you more likely to reach for fatty comfort-foods.
3) Choose a time to shop when the stores are not too full and the selection is at its height. At farmer’s markets and greengrocers, the selection may be best earlier in the day. You can ask your grocery store when their deliveries of produce are scheduled. If you shop when stores are uncrowded and selection is good, you are more likely to have the time to make good choices – and you will be able to enjoy a selection that makes healthy eating easy.
4) Stick to a list. Plan your shopping list -based on your weekly menu – ahead of time and stick to the list to prevent overbuying and overeating. The only exception to this should be fresh fruits and vegetables you see that may make good snacks. You can buy some of these if you find fresh produce that you have not tried before or produce that is one sale. In general, though, buy only what you need each week so that you will have complete meals rather than food that goes bad or invites binging.