It is recommended that you consume approximately 25 grams of soluble fiber per day to help decrease your body’s absorption of cholesterol. However, this won’t be too difficult consider the amount of fruits and vegetables you’ll include in your meal plan on the TLC diet.
Now let’s talk about what you really came here for — what you can, and can’t, eat on this diet.
Can you eat meat on the TLC diet?
Yes — but no more than 5 ounces of chicken (without the skin), turkey, or fish. Meat, because it’s strictly from an animal source, contains “naturally occurring” saturated fat. This isn’t quite as terrible for you as the oils and other fatty ingredients added to processed foods to make them taste better, but too much meat can still add a lot of fat to your diet, raising your total cholesterol — which isn’t good.
What about dairy?
If you love cheese, yogurt, and cow’s milk, here’s the good news: you don’t have to give any of that up. Dairy products do contain some saturated fat, but they are also excellent sources of protein, one of your greatest weight loss allies. You’ll have to choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products to cut back your saturated fat intake on the TLC diet, but they’re easy to find in stores. Limit your consumption to no more than three servings per day.
Fruits and vegetables
Many people struggle to get enough fresh produce in their diet. Depending on the fruit or vegetable, it can feel time-consuming. Why take the extra time to slice up an apple or peel an orange when you can just grab something from the pantry and start eating right away? However, fruits and vegetables provide so much fiber per serving, and so few calories, that you really can’t get through a less than 2,000-calorie day (or many in a row) without them.
On the TLC diet, you will need to incorporate about four servings of fruit and anywhere between three and five servings of vegetables per day. You might have to get a little creative when cooking at home, but it is totally possible to get your recommended nine servings of produce in. With a little almond butter or Greek yogurt, both fruits and vegetables can easily become a regular healthy snack.
On the TLC diet, you will want to eat anywhere from six to 11 servings of grains per day. This includes foods like rice, pasta, breads, cereals, oatmeal, and more. Grains, especially whole grains, are another essential food source of dietary fiber, important for controlling your cholesterol. Fiber also helps promote weight loss and stabilize blood sugar.
You should incorporate as many whole grains into your meals and snacks as possible, since many sources of grains these days tend to go through heavy amounts of processing. The last thing you want to do is flood your bloodstream with more fat and sugar than it can handle, especially if you are trying to lose weight while also lowering your cholesterol.
Do you have to give up alcohol to lower cholesterol or lose weight?
The short answer: no. However, too much alcohol can still impact your risk for developing heart disease. Depending on the beverage you choose, it’s also very easy to drink hundreds of calories in one sitting — which really isn’t helping you accomplish your goals.
It’s recommended that women stick to only one drink per day, while men avoid having any more than two drinks in a day. A glass of wine with your dinner won’t hurt you, but do your best to practice moderation, the same way you will have to when counting calories.
With the guidelines above, planning out your meals and snacks for the day should seem much easier. You CAN stay within your calorie limit — portion out your food ahead of time, if you have to. Remember, it’s important to make sure you choose foods low in calories as often as possible. Stick to seasonings and spices whenever possible to avoid sauces and dips high in saturated fat.
Plain (original, if instant) whole grain oatmeal with honey, almonds, and berries
Whole grain cranberry mini muffins with chia seeds
Garden salad with grilled salmon, grape tomatoes, red onions, and mozzarella cheese
Apple, sliced, with nut butter of your choice
3 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
Lemon and rosemary seasoned grilled chicken breast
Fresh green beans
Brown rice or whole grain pasta
Whole grain dinner roll
Homemade baked sweet potato “chips”
Tips for success on the TLC diet
- Focus on eating larger portions of low-calorie foods. Sometimes it’s not the amount of food on your plate, but the quality of that food, that makes all the difference. Fruits and vegetables, many grains, and chicken or fish seasoned with herbs and spices are all examples of foods you can eat in full portions without going over your daily calorie limit.
- Drink water. When you start counting calories, you will notice that drinks tack on hundreds of calories to your daily total. It’s okay to treat yourself every once in awhile, but when you can, swap out a high-sugar, high-calorie drink for plain water.
- Eat high-fiber foods when you get hungry. These foods tend to fall under the nutrient-dense category, which means they are extremely nutritious but very low in calories.
When it comes to healthy eating, the TLC diet touches on many of the pain points people deal with in everyday life. While improving your total cholesterol and decreasing your disease risk, a healthy diet and regular exercise also promotes weight loss.
Though there are guidelines, they’re fairly straightforward. As long as you’re willing to trade a high-fat diet for something much healthier, you will see results. In the long term, you’re increasing your chances of living a much longer, happier life. Hopefully that’s worth giving up steak in favor of beans, bread, and greens.
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