Two Big Secrets that Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol
Most of us know what we have to do to lower our cholesterol. Face it, most of us have been taught which foods are healthy and low in fat and which are less than good for us. However, adopting a very low-fat diet and healthier lifestyle is often challenging, especially if we have followed less than ideal eating and life patterns for some time. Although we may know which foods we should be turning to and which lifestyle changes we need to make, we don’t always do what is right.
If you are inventing excuses or having a hard time sticking to the diet plan your doctor or nutritionist has helped you develop for your cholesterol level, consider two secrets that can help make lowering your cholesterol over the next 30 days far less painful:
Secret #1: Advertising Can Help You Lower Your Cholesterol.
It sounds crazy, but advertising can help you lower your cholesterol because advertising is likely already a big part of your higher cholesterol. Think about it: why do you eat the way you do? At least part of the reason has to do with learned behavior. You learned to like some foods as a child, but you have also learned to associate certain foods with certain ideas and ideals - and likely this has been the doing of advertisers.
Do you associate champagne and truffles with elegant dinner parties? Chips and beer with a fun night out? Lattes with work friends? Advertisers spend millions and even billions of dollars getting you to eat their foods - even when those foods are processed and contribute directly to higher cholesterol.
When you picture a hamburger, you likely picture the hamburger you see in advertisements - a large, juicy burger with all the toppings. When you think of a salad, you may nit get the same strong images in your head, simply because salads and vegetables are advertised a lot less. Think of the last ten food advertisements you have seen. Odds are, they were for less-than–healthy processed foods.
Traditionally, less than healthy foods have needed advertising, because they were not needed. Today, though, there is a huge market for convenience and “junk” foods. When you visit your local grocery store, compare the amount of shelf space given to convenience foods, junk foods, sugary foods, and sodas to the amount of space given to the produce section.
In too many grocery stores, the amount of space that fresh produce and grains take up is far less than the amount of space devoted to less heart-healthy foods. This is no mistake. Take a look at those high-fat and cholesterol-high foods. Odds are, they come in brightly designed packages that grab the eye. Often, they are placed at eye level. Advertisers are trying to make their products appealing. Is it any wonder that it is hard to walk by the foods you know are less than healthy for you?
You can turn the power of advertising in your advantage, though, and lower your cholesterol over the next 30 days as well. Start with your own cholesterol-lowering action plan:
1. Reduce the amount of food advertising you see. Advertisers do an incredible job at making foods attractive, but many times these foods are less than great for your cholesterol level. There is no reason why your heart health should suffer because some advertiser is good at their job. Figure out where you see advertisements for foods and then avoid those ads. Most people see the majority of food advertisements on television. If this describes you, avoid the television for a while and watch your cravings for fatty foods decrease. Also avoid radio ads and restaurant advertisements in magazines and newspapers.
2. Make good-for-you foods appealing. Put your low-fat dinners on nicer china and eat at the table instead of in front of the television. Use brightly colored fruits and vegetables and arrange your heart-healthy food in an attractive way on the plate, much as restaurants do. Add some music or candles to your dinner. Any small and fast touches that can make your meal more appealing will make your new low-fat diet seem more like a luxury than anything else.
After all, this is exactly what restaurants do to advertise their food when you are actually in the restaurant - they add ambience to make the meals more attractive and appealing, so that customers are more likely to walk away feeling happy and satisfied with their meal.
In fact, good restaurants will often spend large budgets on consultants that can tell them what they can do to make meals more appealing to customers. Is it any wonder that restaurant meals - even those that are fatty and terrible for your cholesterol - are so hard to resist? The great thing is that you can add this same type of “advertising” to your own low-fat and heart-healthy meals.
For the next 30 days, make your low-fat and healthy meals at home more appealing in any way you can think of and you will be amazed at how much easier your new diet is to stick to.
3. Describe foods in a way that makes them appealing to you. Advertising works by staying with you. Advertisers work very hard to make sure that you remember jingles and descriptions of foods - that’s why you can often sing the slogans for popular advertisements years after the ads are no longer shown.
You can use the same technique to make good-for-you low-fat foods seem appealing. This is especially important since there are few ads for these foods and many of us come to associate negative images of health foods. You likely have heard fresh fruit and vegetables described as “rabbit food” or as being “boring” or even “tired” or “wilted.” This is not likely to make you crave these foods - especially since you are always hearing great adjectives - such as “delicious” and “juicy” described about fatty foods.
Try to do the same thing as advertisers - when buying food that is good for you, watch out for negative words. Use words such as “crisp” and “delicious” to describe low-fat and good-for-you foods such as produce and lean meats.
4. Use a little negative advertising. Whenever you find yourself craving foods that are high in fat or sodium, use a little negative advertising. As soon as you are aware that you are craving the foods, imagine them in the worst possible light - as mushy, greasy, cold, congealed, and disgusting.
This will make bad-for-your heart foods seem far less attractive.
If you find that you crave convenience foods, fast foods, and other foods you are trying to avoid during the next 30 days, try to find ways to make these foods less appealing. For example, recall the times you have had terrible fast food or convenience food meals. Ask your friends and family for their dining-out horror stories, and look up stories about the disgusting things people have found in the fast foods and convenience foods.
Collecting and reading stories about the hairs and other unappetizing things that have been found in convenience food will make these foods seem far less attractive. By making heart-healthy foods such as vegetables and lean meat more attractive and high-fat foods seem more disgusting, you will find it much easier to stick to a low-fat diet - without feeling cheated or deprived.
Secret #2: Make High Cholesterol Harder than Lowered Cholesterol.
What this means is that you should make cholesterol-friendly food choices easier on yourself than bad-for-you choices. That way you are far more likely to reach for low-fat, healthy foods over the next 30 days - and for life! - and are less likely to cheat on your new eating plan. There are several ways to set yourself up for cholesterol-lowering success:
1. Get rid of bad-for-you foods and temptations. If you keep cookies, fried foods, and other temptations around, you are more likely to turn to them when you are feeling hungry. As soon as you learn from your doctor that you need to take care about what you eat because of elevated cholesterol, go through your home and get rid of the foods that you should be eliminating or cutting back on.
Give them away to a friend or food bank, if you can. Replace your foods with lower-fat or healthier alternatives. Also get rid of any fliers, advertisements, or menus from take-out places and restaurants. If these things are not in your home, you are far less likely to be tempted by them.
2. Make your kitchen a heart-healthy place. If you have a deep-fryer, give it away. Invest in parchment paper, no-stick cooking ware, a rice steamer, wok, or other appliances and gadgets that make heart-healthy and low-fat cooking more likely. You do not have to invest a lot of money for this. Just buying parchment paper (for lining cooking sheets) and getting rid of appliances that are only for high-fat cooking is often enough to make good low-fat cooking almost automatic.
While you are cleaning out your kitchen, try to find ways to make cooking in your kitchen more appealing. Hang up some nice curtains or at least get rid of the clutter. If your kitchen is an enticing place to cook, you are more likely to cook at home rather than being tempted to eat out.
3. Eat in. For the next 30 days, as you work to lower your cholesterol, you should eat in and eat foods you have prepared yourself almost all the time. Prepared foods and foods you buy from take-out restaurants and in dining areas do not give you as much control over ingredients and preparation. When you make your meals yourself, you can easily reduce how much fats and sodium goes into each meal.
4. Get lots of appealing heart-healthy foods into your kitchen. If you make healthy foods more attractive and visible, you are more likely to reach for them when you are hungry. Buy pretty hanging bowls for your citrus fruits and vegetables instead of hiding them in your crisper. Covered mesh containers are available for fruits - these containers allow fruits to ripen and stay visible, but prevent fruit flies.
5. Consider taking a heart-healthy cooking class. Many community centers and cooking schools now offer cost-effective cooking classes in cholesterol-friendly and heart-healthy foods. This can be an excellent way to make healthy eating fun - especially if you feel out of place in a kitchen. You will learn many recipes and cooking tips for heart-healthy eating, and have the opportunity to spend time with others who are concerned about heart health. Plus, once you learn to cook healthy and delicious meals, you may find that you enjoy cooking and prefer the taste of healthy low-fat foods more!
6. Plan your cholesterol-lowering meal once a week. Most of us plan our days and our finances, but we often leave eating to chance. This can make heart-healthy eating more difficult. After a long day at work, it can be too daunting to come up with a menu and then cook a meal from scratch. Choose one day a week to plan your entire eating menu and then go shopping for the ingredients you will need for the upcoming week. This will ensure that you have all the fresh ingredients and healthy meal ideas you need, so that there is no excuse to turn to convenience food.
7. Get help in the kitchen. Whether you get help from a roommate, child, or spouse, cooking with someone else tends to be more fun. If you can’t find someone to help you, then find some way to make cooking time more fun - listen to music or watch a movie on a portable DVD player as you cook, and cooking time will fly by and you prepare nutritious and cholesterol-lowering meals for yourself.
8. Socialize without food. Many of us take in excess calories and fats when we eat out with others. This is especially a problem since we so often equate social times with eating - we meet friends at restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs or we have movie nights that include take-out pizza.
Over the next 30 days, make it a habit to meet friends at places that don’t have food as a major entertainment. Meet friends at the gym, on hiking trails, or in your home rather than in restaurants or cafes that feature rich foods.
9. Get motivated. Getting started on a low-fat diet to lower your cholesterol is often not the hard part. The hard part is staying motivated to keep the diet plan up for weeks. Find ways to get yourself motivated to eat well for life. For many of us, fear is a great motivator.
If you have very high cholesterol, consider pinning your cholesterol level and a list of the dangers of high cholesterol on your fridge. Or, put a really graphic picture of clogged arteries or some cholesterol health hazard you fear where you will see it. You can also make a bet with a friend or family member that will see you lose money each time you cheat on your diet.
10. Make heart-healthy food more convenient. If you can make low-fat alternatives easier to reach for than fast food, you are more likely to reach for meals and foods that are good for you as well as schedule-friendly. Luckily, fruits, vegetables, and other low-fat foods are among the most convenient foods out there.
Keep cut up fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator to make stir-fries, salads, and other healthy meals easier. Keep low-fat yogurt and other low fat foods around for fast snacking, and you will reach for these foods rather than turning to high-fat, high-sodium “fast foods."
11. Make heart-healthy food more interesting. You are unlikely to be satisfied with eating the same salad or the same types of healthy meals each day. Sticking the same sorts of foods will get you in a rut and will make high-fat alternatives more appealing. Find new low-fat foods that you can enjoy and make it part of your eating plan to look up new low-fat recipes and foods each week so that you are always enjoying foods that are new and healthy for your heart.
12. Figure out your eating dangers and find ways to overcome them. Most of us have specific emotions and events that may make us turn to comfort food. Whether it is general stress, sadness boredom, or meetings with your boss, it is important to find out which events cause you to overeat or to crave fatty foods and then work hard to find alternatives.
Sometimes, this is very simple. If your walk home from work takes you past a favorite restaurant you find hard to resist, then you may need to find a different route home. If Tuesday work meetings leave you reaching for cookies in your office desk, find a way to get out of the meetings or take a walk after the meeting instead of reaching for food.
On a paper, list the times you are more likely to want to eat, and beside each item, list ways you can avoid the situation or at least make better choices when you are faced with it. Post your list in your planner or other visible place so that you will see it.
13. Make cholesterol-friendly eating easier. If counting fat grams, sodium, fiber, types of fat, and cholesterol in each of your foods is causing you stress, either get a small gadget that will count the grams and amounts for you (you can even get programs for your computer or palm pilot that will count this for you) or simplify by eating more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Sound too simple? Not at all.
When you prepare a meal, simply make sure that most of your plate is taken up by fresh fruits and vegetables. The portion size of grain should be smaller and the portion size of animal proteins (meats, milk products) should be smaller still - no larger than a pack of cards. Make sure that you eat different fruits and vegetables each day so that you get a variety. Use olive oil as your main source of fat and refuse other dressings or sauces - do your cooking with the olive oil.
Eliminate foods such as organ meats, full-fat dairy products, egg yolks, and convenience or restaurant meals entirely, and you should be able to lower your cholesterol significantly without counting every gram you place in your mouth. If you are on a very strict low-cholesterol diet, this may not be enough, but for most people interested in lowering their cholesterol, this simple formula will be a snap to follow and will actually lower your cholesterol.
Over the next 30 days, lower your cholesterol by making sure that reaching for low-fat, heart-healthy foods is more appealing and automatic than reaching for high-fat foods. This will not make your cravings for less-than-healthy meals go away, but it will go a long way towards ensuring that you don’t give into the cravings.
Click the following link to learn how you can lower cholesterol naturally.