The TLC Diet: Foods, Menus, FAQs, and Recipes

The TLC Diet

Everything you need to know about the TLC Diet plan including foods, to eat, menus, FAQs, shopping lists, and more.

The TLC Diet or Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes is a government recommended diet created by the National Institute of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program. The goal is to cut cholesterol as part of a heart-healthy eating diet plan. It’s also ranked one of the best U.S. diets to do. This diet is not overly restrictive and it’s also broad enough that you have plenty of options of what you can choose to eat. It includes eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, breads, nuts and seeds, cereals, and pastas.

What is the TLC Diet Plan?

To start the TLC Diet you want to first find out your lowest amount of daily calorie intake. If your goal for the diet is to lower your bad cholesterol or Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL), it is suggested that your goal for calories would be 2500 for men and 1800 for women. If you are looking to lose weight you want to keep your calorie intake to 1600 for men and 1200 for women. However, if you are looking to lose weight overall it might be better to try a diet such as the Atkins Diet. Studies have shown that dieters who tried both diets lost 20 pounds on the TLC Diet and up to 30 pounds on the Atkins Diet.

Along with cutting calories you also need to cut your high-fat dairy products. This includes foods like butter, high in fat cheeses, and fatty meats like salami.

You will also want to stay active while on this diet. It is recommended that you exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Here are some tips on how to get you started on what your meals should look like.

  • Make sure you are not eating more than five (5) ounces a day of lean meat per day. Good options are skinless chicken or turkey and fish (Please note that three (3) ounces is about the size of your palm.)
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, about four servings of fruit, and up to five servings of vegetables
  • You are allowed to eat two to three servings of low-fat or nonfat dairy per day
  • Eat up to eleven (11) servings a day of whole-grain bread, cereal, brown rice, whole-grain pasta

Foods to Eat on the TLC Diet

For those who follow the TLC Diet you actually have a lot of options when it comes to this diet. Here is the list of recommended foods on this diet.

Vegetables (high-fiber vegetables)

  • Artichokes
  • Acorn squash
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Butternut squash
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Green peppers
  • Kale
  • Lima beans
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Sweet corn
  • Turnips
  • Tomatoes
  • White button mushrooms
  • Zucchini


  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Coconuts
  • Oranges
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Tropical fruits

Lean Meats

  • Lean red meat
  • Fish and seafood
  • Skinless chicken and turkey

Breads and Grains

  • Barly
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur wheat
  • High-fiber cereals
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain breads
  • Wild rice

Nuts and Seeds

  • Almonds
  • Chia seeds
  • Dark chocolate (70% or higher)
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Popcorn
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts

Beans and Lentils

  • Chickpeas
  • Baked beans
  • Black beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Peas
  • Pinto beans
  • Split peas
  • Soybeans (edamame)

Low-fat Dairy

  • Low-fat milk
  • Cottage cheese (low-fat)
  • Cheeses (low in fat)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Skim milk
  • Sorbet

Download our free checklists with all the approved TLC diet foods (and what you should avoid.)

Foods Not to Eat

Here is the list of foods that are not recommended on the TLC Diet.

  • Egg yolks
  • Full-fat dairy products: Milk, yogurt, cheeses, butter
  • Fried foods: French fries, donuts, fried chicken
  • Poultry with skin: Turkey, chicken
  • Processed meat: Bacon, sausage, hot dogs
  • Processed foods: Baked goods, sweets, cookies, potato chips
  • Red meat: Fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb

What to Drink on the TLC Diet

  • Coffee
  • Limited alcohol to one drink per day
  • Limited sodas and sugary drinks
  • Teas
  • Water

What Not to Drink

  • Alcohols and sugary cocktails
  • Sodas
  • Sugary drinks

The TLC Diet Menu Sample Menu (One Week)

Here’s an example of a simple first TLC Diet plan menu. So if this doesn’t seem to motivate you, there are many great recipes available. Check Pinterest for a huge variety of hundreds of different recipes and ideas. You can also purchase a few books from Amazon, there is this one TLC Diet: 7 Day Meal Plan for Rapid Weight Loss or this one, The Low Cholesterol Cookbook and Action Plan. This menu below is a really simple one just to get you started. 


  • Breakfast: eggs whites with spinach
  • Lunch: chicken breast and green beans 
  • Dinner: whole-grain pizza flatbread with tomatoes, grilled vegetables, and low-fat cheese as toppings


  • Breakfast: whole-wheat toast with all-natural peanut butter
  • Lunch: tuna salad and an avocado
  • Dinner: salmon and a side of asparagus


  • Breakfast: a cup of greek yogurt with some berries and add a little cinnamon
  • Lunch: whole-grain sandwich with grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and onion
  • Dinner: stir-fry, your choice of meat, with a mix of vegetables


  • Breakfast: scrambled eggs white with veggies 
  • Lunch: a salad with lots of veggies and use oil and vinegar as dressing
  • Dinner: whole -wheat pasta with shrimp


  • Breakfast: a cup of greek yogurt with some berries and add a little cinnamon
  • Lunch: tuna salad and an avocado 
  • Dinner: fish, couscous, and roasted vegetables


  • Breakfast: eggs and bacon
  • Lunch: avocado on whole-wheat toast
  • Dinner: steak with fresh vegetables


  • Breakfast: an omelet with fresh vegetables 
  • Lunch: tuna salad
  • Dinner: salmon and grilled vegetables 

The TLC Diet: Pros and Cons


  • Encourages healthy lifestyle habits
  • Incorporates many whole foods
  • Relatively sustainable
  • Promotes a healthy heart, and can help lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke
  • May help with weight-loss


  • Requires calorie tracking
  • Weight-loss calories are low
  • Might be difficult to lose a large amount of weight


Thank you for reading our guide on the TLC Diet. Please feel free to download and use our free embedded checklists. This will be helpful when creating your menus and making your grocery shopping list.