Need to Change to Healthy Eating, but Unsure Where to Begin

Updated on February 04, 2011
K.P. asks from South Hadley, MA
23 answers

Recently, my husband, age 33, was told that he has high cholesterol. He is not overweight, but he has a terrible diet that consists of potato chips, pizza, chicken nuggets, so its not a huge suprise to me that he has high cholesterol. I, on the other hand, am quite overweight. I have used Weight Watchers in the past and it has worked for me, but I have used the Points method, so i don't really know the correct why to read a nutrition label. We have two children who are thin, but probably won't stay that way if they fall in our footsteps. Anyway, my husband says he is ready to change his diet to be more healthy. I am so excited because he has been so against it in the past. I think this is a new start and I want to embrace it, but I don't know how. This "healthy" thing is new for my husband, so we have to ease into it. I have to work with what he will agree to eat. He will not eat any type of fish other than canned tuna. He will not eat any veggie except corn. He will eat chicken, turkey and pork. I need to find recipes that are heart healthy and very basic. Does anyone have any website or cook books they like that are VERY basic?

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answers from Albany on

Go to the Food Network website and look up Ellie Krieger, she's my fav. She's a nutritionist not a chef, but makes exceptionally healthy meals with really BIG flavor impact. Plus she's as cute as a button!



answers from Buffalo on

weight watchers is a great start, now remember this if it comes from an animal it has cholesterol, If you heat it up and it liquifies, and then cool it of and it solidifies again then it is BAD!! this is what happens in you arteries. Good Luck.

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answers from Portland on

The best thing you could do for yourselves is give up white sugar and white flour. That means switching to whole grain bread vs. white, brown rice over white, and natural sweeteners (like honey, molasses, maple syrup) over bleached white sugar. Avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague. If you have a sweet tooth like I used to, I promise you that you won't even miss it after a 3 day detox.

As to high cholesterol, the most important factor is the HDL percentage to the whole. If HDL is under 10% of the total cholesterol #, then there is some serious concern. The magic number of 200 is a new standard set by the drug companies. Unless you're pushing 300, ignore the numbers and don't let the doctor talk you into taking a statin.

To switch those numbers around, start reading labels and differentiate between good and bad fats. Hydrogenated oil, canola, soybean, vegetable are all horribly bad for you. Choose real unsalted butter over margarine, real peanut butter over brands that add hydrogenated oil (refrigerate after opening and it won't separate), lard over Crisco, and dry roasted nuts over those cooked in oil. Look for oils that are expeller or cold pressed. I use coconut oil, olive oil and butter almost exclusively.

Consider that it's not the animal fat that is bad for you, but what's IN the animal fat. Locally raised grass fed animals are far superior to factory farm raised on antibiotics and GMO corn....

Eating healthy is a lifestyle change. Take baby steps to ensure success.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Providence on

Eating doesn't have to be difficult. What keeps me in check is the saying - "if it comes from the ground or has a mother, eat it. If not, don't touch it." Very basic but certainly clear. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I can't help with recipes or cook books, I don't cook from recipes hardly ever, and even when I do, I don't really follow them.

But I can suggest some easy changes that really worked around here in our house. These changes were suggested to me by a nutritionist, and they really helped. Mostly it was changing portion sizes. Looking at the dinner plate, half should be fruits or vegetables, a quarter protein, and a quarter starch. Meat should be 3-4 oz, or the size of a deck of cards. Try to prepare it un fried and un breaded. I was told to only serve red meat once a week, and stick to pultry and fish the other days of the week, or vegetable protein (soy, beans and rice, ect) Remember, pork is a "red" meat.

The other thing to remember is that beans and corn are starches, and should be counted as such. There is a temptation to have a heaping pile of baked beans or corn on the cob and call it vegetables, but they act as starches just like potatoes.

The vegetables you do serve, serve as many as you can raw, and look to serve at least two different colored vegetables in each meal (or fruit). This is a great time of year to pick up fresh fruits and veggies.

I hope that helps...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I used to be a chunky monkey....I know how overwhelming it can be. My only suggestion would be to make one change at a time. (ex: give up red meat, give up sodas, give up friend foods)

Keep in mind you have to make a LIFE change...not diet. When you give up certain things, you do so for life.

I promise that after you rid yourself of all the yuck you're putting in, you won't miss it.

p.s. it's been almost ten years that I've lost 75 pounds.

Good luck! And remember, this is the best thing you can do for your kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on has just about any recipe ever. You could start here with their low cholesterol page:

I think O. of the most basic things you can do to start is to eliminate processed food of any kind and all fast food.
If he eats pizza, make pizza yourself with onions, peppers, low fat shredded cheese, etc.

I do think your husband is going to have to branch out a little more than tuna and corn though!

You can make lean red meat--just know what a serving size looks like (with WW, I'm sure you do) and fill the other 3/4 of the plate with salad and fresh veggies. Also chicken (REAL chicken) is a good bet.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boise on

I think that you have to start slowly. If you do it all at once you both may be overwhelmed and feel deprived. So, maybe for the first week or two, you don't eat any fast food. Next week work on healthy snacks instead of the potato chips, cut out soda, etc. For cookbooks, you may want to try some from America's test kitchen. I know that they have a variety and one is sure to be for healthy stuff, but really, anything home made is better than the processed foods. And their recipes are great. They walk you through everything and have been tested over and over. So many from those fad cookbooks are tasteless, or don't work, and have some ingredients that you have to get used to.

You can even make pizza and healthier chicken nuggets.



answers from Boston on

I love Cooking Light - the magazine and the website. They provide a lot of info on how to read nutrition labels and great recipes that are good for you. They do a section of recipes that usually only use maybe 5-6 ingredients and are quick and easy to make. Your husband is going to have to seriously work on the veggie thing. Corn - nutritionally speaking - is more like a starch/sugar than a veggie. Canned tuna (packed in water not oil) can be very healthy as long as he doesn't just add a ton of mayo to make a tuna fish sandwich.



answers from Hartford on

I'm a doctor and I'm doing a 3 hour nutrition workshop this Saturday October 2 at my office in Farmington CT... about 45 minutes from Springfield. This makeover is done all over the country and last year 250,000 people attended. Most people lose all the weight they want... without dieting or counting calories... there are no products to buy or special foods to eat. It's just about eating healthy. I also address cholesterol and diabetes. If you're interested let me know and I'll give you more info.



answers from Detroit on

Hi K.---I am taking a series of wellness classes taught by a Naturopath who has her Phd in Nutrition. My plan is to be a certified health educator. I believe that I have a ton of great info to share and to help you get started down that road to optimal health. Label reading is one of my specialties.

There is a lot to know and I believe it is best to know why so that changes can be lasting. I would recommend a quick phone call, I can tell you a brief outline of what Dr. Pam teaches in her Wellness 101, which I highly recommend (go to to learn more...tell them D. McCall sent you). I'd send you a bunch of hand-outs/documents for you and other fascinating resources.

Briefly, an optimal diet is one that consists primarily (90 % of daily calories) of plant based foods; fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes/beans, nuts and seeds. The rest can be from animals, except cows milk is discouraged. We can get into that later, except you might visit to get an idea of why. Use animal protein sparingly, more like a condiment, side-dish or flavoring for soups or stews. This is the biggest source of dietary cholesterol.

You know, the liver makes cholesterol because it is used in every cell of the body. It is a necessary part of cellular function. But, Americans consume just too much of it as meat is the focus of our eating...that's why Americans are so sick. A good book to read is The China Study by T Colin Campbell. It's easy to read.

Two great websites for recipes: and Trying new recipes is one of the most fun things we do at our house. We are not vegans, but we do eat a lot of vegan and vegetarian meals in our house. I've got some really great recipes to share.

So, I'd by honored to help, give me a call. My phone # is ###-###-####. I look forward to it. BTW...corn is actually a grain, not a vegetable. So, sounds like we've got a little work to do. Think of baby steps, being open to trying things. Maybe you like them, maybe you don't, but you will surely find something. Build on that and then retry things every once in awhile. You can use the same advice Dr. Bill Sears, pediatrician, gives on his can take up to 10 or more tries to accept a new food. It should work the same way with big 'kids' like your hubby. As long as he's open to change, make a fun game of finding new, healthy things to eat. And, I am happy to help. Good luck! D.



answers from Indianapolis on

For 8 years of my career, I was involved in the world of Diabetes. I'm a HUGE proponent of Registered Dieticians - I know it sounds boring, but the truth is most people just really don't understand food, and a good Dietician will work with you to come-up with a general meal plan to accommodate his pickiness.

My husband is pretty much the same as yours. Unfortunately, he sells a cholesterol medication, so he knows all the risks and all the clinical information. Yet, at 35, he has to take it because he has horribly high cholesterol.

2 important things: 1. Cholesterol levels are influenced both by heredity and food choices. 2. He absolutely needs to know his LDL vs. HDL levels.

LDL - low density lipoprotein is the "bad cholesterol"
HDL - high density lipoprotein is the "good cholesterol"

You want your LDL to be as low as possible and your HDL to be as high as possible. Diet can certainly influence those numbers, but not always.

Fish oil is a great way to do it, but there are some concerns with OTC brands because of "fish burps" which can be irritating. There is a prescription product (no, my husband does not sell it) that is an Rx grade fish oil that I've heard nothing negative about in my experiences with health care professionals. There are also medications to treat triglycerides which are another really important number to know about.

I'd see if your insurance covers the cost of seeing your hospital's dietician. While fruits are hugely important, they're also really high in carbs and don't provide the same nutritional value as vegetables. I've had to force my husband to eat broccoli. He's actually started to like it.

I'd recommend visiting the American Diabetes Association's website (, the website for the American Heart Association (, American Dietetic Association ( as a start. All will have recipes or cookbooks available and are probably the smartest place to start.

Good luck - it's not going to be easy, but hopefully, it will click.



answers from San Francisco on

Leanne Ely has a website: and you can buy bundled recipes (one is heart healthy) and she has an e-newsletter with healthy eating tips.

I also like the Dr. Phil books (check the library).

My current favorite is You can get free diet plans and lots of great articles about nutrition and fitness.



answers from Providence on

The American Heart Assoc has a cookbook on their website that is heart healthy you can also find mini cook books at the grcery store check out from the AHA. I find I can get veggies in that wouldn't normally be eaten if I do stir fries or mix with spaghetti sauce. So a stir fry would be peppers onions, mushrooms with chicken on a tortilla with fat free sour cream and fat free cheddar cheese or broc, caulif. and carrots sauted with pasta sauce on top of chicken. Try Olivio butter or like that no taste difference and buy fat free or low fat products even creamed soups have a low fat options and use Skim Milk that took me a while to get used too but I prefer it now. I also find that if I have my husband pick out the meal and help make it (cut veggies or stir the pot ) he is more likely to eat it so give him the cook books to pick meals out and decide once every other week or so to try something that you wouldn't normally eat like fish, if it cooked with other things you like then you might like it. My husband love spaghetti squash now instead of regular spaghetti b/c of this. Remember if you don't keep it on you shelves and don't buy it at the store they can't eat it. Go through you pantry an dfridge and clean house. Good luck!



answers from Indianapolis on

K., a lot of people like The New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life, by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Read more here:

Research some of the tricks moms use to get veggies into their kids' diets to get them into your entire family's diet. You have no idea how important that is. BTW, corn isn't a vegetable, it's a grain, and it's in so much of the processed foods Americans eat these days, you'll be amazed at what it's done to our diets.
Good luck and go veggies!


answers from Dallas on

There are lots of ways to fight cholesterol. Exercise, cutting saturated fats, increasing soluble fiber and more. It's easier than you might think. And today there are "baked" products that are much healthier than the old fried. I was on meds and got myself off by bringing my cholesterol into a healthy ratio.

For example: at dinner time have a lean protein, plenty of vegies (don't add butter or sauces), a fruit or lettuce salad (be choosey about dressings for the salad..... a little is okay, don't saturate and use olive oil or canola. When you are reading a nutrition label look at the fats. You want to avoid too much fat, and especially saturated fats. Generally speaking......if you are going to have something with fat, look at the "calories from fat." They should be at least a third of the "calories" per serving...... a tip from my Mom's cardiologist.

Make sure your canned tuna is water packed, but your husband can still have a turkey sandwich. Just go easy on the mayo and cheese.

There are herbs you can take to reduce cholesterol as well.

As far as your weight. I have a great plan I can recommend if you are interested. I am a Shaklee Distributor with my own small business. Shaklee is the number one natural nutrition company in the United States.

Congrats on getting healthy. You are gonna feel great!



answers from Detroit on

I don't personally use cook books, but I am sure you will get some good responses about this from some other momma's. However, there are a couple of simple things you can do, or cut out that will immediately make a difference in the right direction. First thing I would recommend is to cut out red meat all together... Stick with Chicken and Turkey. Second, don't eat fast food or any of the processed food (aka chicken nuggets).... when you read the ingredients on the label, and there are 100 things listed, most of which you can't even pronounce... stay away from it! lol The simpler and smaller the ingredient list, the healthier it will most likely be. Third, stay away from frying your food. Get rid of any friar you may have! If you and your husband are big soda drinkers, get rid of that too, and make goals to drink a lot of water (64 oz. a day) as this will help clear out your system and feel more full and best of all, you will begin to physically feel so much better. (if you are a soda family, check out "Izze's", they will give you the soda craving (fizzy, full of flavor and yummy) without the cafeine or soda. Good luck and good for you for moving in a healthier direction.



answers from Honolulu on

Hi - I'm not sure if you found a way to start eating healthy, but if you are still looking, I am part of Team Beachbody, a support group encouraging weight loss, a healthy lifestyle and staying fit. There are many tools including exercise programs and healthy products to transform your way of life. It also includes meal plans with recipes and a shopping list, which I personally love because it makes meal planning so easy for my family. If you're still interested, click on my link:



answers from Hartford on

A good place to start is to stop adding additional salt to any foods. This will help more for blood pressure than cholesterol, but many people in my family have lost a significant amount of weight by just eliminating salt from their diets. For the cholesterol, switch to whole grains. Oatmeal is really great for lowering cholesterol, so maybe try switching from boxed cereal to oatmeal a few times a week (watch the sugar content in some oatmeals though). Red meat and potatoes once a month (use whole grain brown or red rice in place of potatoes). Try a few vegetarian meals (vegetarian chili is great).

Many people have mentioned starting slow which is a great idea. One easy thing is to check out the "sneaky chef" cookbook. It has sneaky ways to make common foods healthy (like "fried" chicken and macaroni and cheese). This is an easy way to start off and may get your family more into the idea.



answers from Providence on

A friend of mine is a doctor in East Greenwich...check out her website. She is wonderful. She can help you whether you for sure.
call Carol or Gina ###-###-#### for details.


answers from Houston on

a book called "eat more weigh less" may be the answer your searching for



answers from Boston on

Good for you! Check out for healthy, kid friendly meals. My family loves the recipies. is also a great rescource for both recipies and information about, well, eating well!



answers from Los Angeles on

Congratulations on your desire to make a change to improve your lives.

First of all, cut out ALL fast food. It's a big step, but an important one. Secondly, the easiest thing to change is to drink only water or milk, no soda or juice or "energy drinks".

If your husband won't eat vegetables, how about fresh fruit? It's a start...

Eat tuna and chicken rather than beef.

Don't buy junk food, don't keep it in the house, and your family won't have it available to eat or snack on. Choose healthier snacks.

Don't buy or eat anything that isn't part of the four food groups. Cut out as much salt and sugar from your diet as possible.

There are countless websites and even several TV cooking shows about healthy eating and low-fat, cholesterol-friendly recipes.

I hope this helps! Good luck!

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